The Best Thing You Can Do to Onboard Your Sales Reps

By Eric Esfahanian

Everyone wants to be part of something bigger than themselves. Whether it’s in their personal life or professional, everyone wants to be part of a cause.

However, if you want to be part of something bigger than yourself the only way is to wholeheartedly believe in that cause. If you do not, chances are your enthusiasm will expire quickly and you will be unsuccessful at whatever you were setting out to accomplish.

This is the approach sales leaders must take to onboard sales reps successfully. Forget the tools, at first. Before memorizing pitch decks, CPQ training, and updates to CRM – and before account plans or sales stages become a priority – take time to create “true believers” of your company’s messaging.

On my new hires’ first day or even before we onboard, I tell them the primary objective for their first 90 days is for them to become true believers in the Gryphon value proposition. I need my new reps to entirely believe, with zero doubt, that our service can really help our clients and prospects in really meaningful ways. Their training regimen does not consist of simply boning up on our products, support, and competition – although that is important down the line – but the training doesn’t have context until new hires have become completely convinced that the right customers will find truly significant value in our offering.

If your new sales reps (first) create and (then) communicate a solution message that is deeply held, the conviction will be contagious and the message will resonate with your clients and your message will be something they care about too.

The “Big Why”

To make your new charges true believers during the onboard process, you must not only be one yourself, but be able to answer what I call the “big why” of your product. Specifically, “Why does this prospect need to care about our solution – and why now.”

This might take a bit of time to construct, but it’s an essential weapon in your arsenal. When building these true believers, your message must be simple and compelling enough to connect on an emotional level. The Big Why’s effectiveness is inversely proportional to the time it takes to explain it. So, keep it as simple as possible without losing the impact of the message.

The Three R’s

After training your team on the value proposition and the Big Why, give them the opportunity to ask a million questions about your product, poke holes in your messaging, and play as much devil’s advocate as they want. As a leader, this gives you the opportunity to restate the value, reinforce the proof, and relate the value to specific clients.

Be honest with your reps about all the strengths and weaknesses of the solution. Proactively tell them about objections they’ll likely get from customers. This will convey credibility to them in ways a white paper or data sheet never could and will transfer from you to them, if they are listening intently.

The Payoff

When you are hiring new people, the cause you are enlisting them for is your company’s mission – first and foremost. You have a responsibility to make that mission something exciting and something that focuses on more than features, benefits, and price.

If you successfully create employees who are completely committed and can communicate persuasively, their passion and enthusiasm will overshadow any lack of industry knowledge, product knowledge, a little higher price, or a few missing bells and whistles.

Your true believers will be your company’s evangelists – and the gospel they preach will have the potential to turn your prospects into client converts. Make sure their verses have meaning beyond the dollar and the deal.

For more than 20 years, Eric Esfahanian has been helping clients increase sales and marketing effectiveness with innovative business intelligence technology and processes. As chief revenue officer of Gryphon Networks, Eric is charged with driving growth of Gryphon’s Fortune 500 client base with cloud-based sales performance management solutions that increase revenue and client retention while reducing training/onboarding times for large, distributed sales organizations. Previously, Eric held sales leadership roles with MicroStrategy, Hewlett-Packard, and EMC Corp. He received his MBA in Entrepreneurship from Babson College and Bachelor’s degree from Boston College.

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