How does a solid sales rep onboarding program reduce churn?

by | Sep 6, 2022

Nandakumar Chari


The combination of an empathetic sales manager and a driven sales rep can limit sales rep churn to a large extent. There must be a mutual association between them just like two hands clapping in appreciation. Research studies elaborate that an effective sales rep onboarding exercise does half the job of arresting sales rep attrition.


A good onboarding culture is one of continuous learning which is possible through the investment of time and effort by sales trainers in an organization. Any new sales recruit always wants to learn how to sell better. Sales managers have a big role to play in the grooming of new sales reps. One-on-one sessions for sales reps with regular feedback from their managers is a de facto requirement for their progress. The process at best should be consistent over a period of time. There are a number of research studies to underline the importance of sales onboarding. A report from the reputed market research agency, CSO Insights, provides pertinent insights.

According to CSO Insights’ Fifth Annual Sales Enablement Study:

  • A majority, that is 62.9% of the organizations who participated in the survey followed informal coaching. Whereas, only 37.1% had a structured onboarding program.
  • The quota win rate of organizations without sales onboarding processes was 42.5%, while those who did achieve 49%.
  • 60.2% of companies did not use AI-based technology in sales enablement. Meanwhile, 24.5% possessed AI-based enablement in a few areas, and just 4.1% covered all enablement areas with AI.

These statistics highlight the importance of evolved onboarding with cutting-edge technology. A significant churn can burn a company. In retrospect, your competitor offered your sales reps who left, something that you did not. What could it be? There could be a plethora of factors. Let’s analyze from the onboarding angle, especially what determines a successful outcome.

The DNA of a successful onboarding exercise – Manager Mirroring

Employees who are productive and content experience job satisfaction. As they learn and grow, they are creating a positive future not only for themselves but for their managers and top leadership as well. They are brand ambassadors for the organization. A good onboarding program prepares sales reps with the tricks of the trade. 

Sales managers should take sales reps under their wings, plus attend to their needs and pain points. This leads to the peak performance of the sales reps. The recruitment and onboarding program should be a controlled exercise from start to finish with a highly strategic and professional tone.

Managers must also acclimatize sales reps to the culture of the company and communicate the successful traits of the expert sales reps to the newbies. This ensures they achieve the target objectives in a timely manner. Referred commonly as the mirror technique, it makes certain that mistakes done by the earlier generation of sales reps don’t recur. It is vital to capture key attributes of a sales onboarding process digitally for analysis and improvement.

See Also: Speedup Sales Onboarding

Empowering Sales Reps

Getting the right support and showing a clear path to sales success by the managers, make sales reps less likely to churn. They must be knowledgeable of productivity metrics, like the attainment of the first order or certain daily and monthly goals. This entails deep and targeted onboarding training about the value of the organization. Thus, sales reps develop into brand advocates for their company. Empowering sales reps with respect and responsibility makes them own the brand and reduces the tendency to churn.

Empowerment and Learning

According to Kushal Bhomick, Chief Revenue Officer and Co-Founder, Streamz, “Measuring training is actually measuring learning behavior. Self-learning should more or less be the norm. Sales reps should passionately sell products and services and know the what, where, why, when, which, and whom of it. The onboarding’s foundation should be very strong.”

The Onboarding Exercise can head towards failure based on factors like:

  • Lack of insight into which parameters make the onboarding program a success.
  • No provision for an individual’s learning assessment.
  • Non-usage of the available resources, tools and technology for onboarding.
  • The attitude of considering onboarding training as a one-time activity is wrong. Upskilling is necessary as learning never stops with the ever-evolving business and technology. Sales enablement managers and sales reps should understand this reality for their own benefit.
  • Bombarding sales reps with an overload of information makes them tend to forget what they have learned. Avers Dolly Singh, Head Operations, StreamzAI, “The onboarding process is a winner if it is hassle-free, and is mentoring centered leading to progressive self-coaching.” Hence a well-planned onboarding process can ensure less churn to a great extent.

Still… why do sales reps leave and what to do about it?

In any company, as per a HubSpot report, the sales division sees a churn rate nearly three times more than any other department. However, this can largely vary across industries and companies. Some amount of attrition is however normal and expected.

A 10% churn is actually ideal according to a Bridge Group Study after a survey of more than 350 B2B software companies! This is because any organization will have unsatisfactory performers and it is healthy if they leave. The average sales organization’s salesforce churn rate is now 34% as per the study. Also, post initial onboarding, the newly inducted sales reps peak to productivity after nearly five and a half months only. Whereas, in B2B2C companies sales rep churn is >50% yearly within their channels. This indicates that their entire salesforce is churning every 24 months! Hence solid onboarding is a must. A wholesome onboarding tenure imparts more knowledge and skills to sales reps enabling them to sell better and avoid a negative situation. Success begets success. However, if they constantly fail to sell, disillusionment sets in and they leave. This is where proper guidance comes to the rescue.

How do Sales Reps Churn Less?

Sandeep Shrivastava, Chief Product Officer, and Co-Founder, StreamzAI, emphatically states, “The onboarding solution imparted to the sales reps must contain the right information to pitch well. This entails voicing specific information during crucial discussions with customers on the field. Sales reps may not be able to process a lot of information during onboarding. Hence, drip-feeding sales reps with bite sized chunks of information over a period of time might be better. This refreshes key concepts. Such micro-learning helps in better retention of information.”

Moreover, sales reps adept at using work related digital tools and technology experience less frustration. They churn less. Technology prowess makes them confident in their approach to customers. Digital experience during the onboarding sessions is crucial. Sales reps using CRM or sales intelligence software are more productive at work and feel accomplished.

The first sale: A barometer of sales onboarding success

The first milestone for sales reps after onboarding is to clinch their first sale. They now experience a rush of confidence and positive reinforcement and strive for more wins. It is a validation for the sales reps who have put hours into making calls, writing emails and giving product demos in quest of success. Sales managers should appreciate or recognize the achievements of the salesforce. Non-acknowledgement of the first win of a sales rep shows the manager’s uncaring attitude. A Glassdoor for Employers Survey states that 80% of employees are willing to put in more hard work if the manager is appreciative.

Thus, just hiring the right sales talent does not ensure successful selling! The right manner of onboarding does. NK Chari, Chief Marketing Officer, StreamzAI points out, “The ideal expectation of a sales onboarding program is when the sales reps make their first sale as soon as possible. It includes building consistency in sales behaviors and on-the-job activities (engaging prospects and building funnel amongst others), ability to communicate value, and product knowledge all of which lead to the 1st sale That is what successful onboarding is all about.”

Wrapping Up

Onboarding is an art and science… a game of creativity and hard facts. During the onboarding session, it is wrong to believe that a positive outcome is to be only hoped for. There has to be a controlled process through strategy and hope is not a strategy. What marks a successful onboarding exercise is clear communication furthered by a mutual understanding between the manager and the sales rep. The sales leadership should critically empower sales reps with knowledge and tactics, and also astute guidance.

Sales onboarding failures arise only because of an ineffective onboarding strategy and process. Partnering with a proven, result oriented and AI enabled sales readiness and enablement platform is called for. This is where the StreamzAI Sales Onboarding Platform comes to your rescue promising engaging, impactful and scalable onboarding solutions.

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