The Role CRM Can Play in Getting New Hires Up to Speed, Faster

It can take months for even experienced hires to become proficient enough to make effective sales calls.

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In my 30-plus years as a hiring manager in industrial automation, it took, on average, three months for new hires to learn the product and application basics.

Even with three to five years’ experience, it took six months for them to become proficient enough to make effective sales calls.

Despite this lag, many companies have no effective processes to ensure efficient and effective onboarding.

Why is onboarding important? The Brandon Hall Group says that effective onboarding increases retention by 82%. Bamboo HR says if you have a good program, employees are 18X more committed to the company.

But Gallup says only 12% of companies deliver a good onboarding experience.

Let’s look at what makes onboarding so challenging for distributors:

  • Complex and highly technical products and services: Technical salespeople need to have a deep understanding of the industries they serve. They need to learn applications, specific terminology, regulations and challenges. And every end-user market speaks a different language and requires a slightly different approach.
  • Value proposition: Perhaps nothing is more important than teaching salespeople how to effectively communicate the value of their products or services to all buying influences: economic, technical and users.
  • Multiple stakeholders: Technical salespeople often need to collaborate closely with account stakeholders internally and externally from cross-functional support teams. Salespeople cover different locations of the same account, as well as different departments such as engineering and product development teams.
  • Account history: Account history includes buying behavior, portfolio potential, possible pull-through, solutions by application, sales forecast, etc. How do we leverage the collective knowledge of the organization to build a content-rich customer environment that is updated and organized? It also needs to be easily accessed and evolve as the market changes.

Organizations looking for a faster, more thorough ROI from new hires should examine their onboarding process to see if available technologies like CRM can help.

CRM is designed to manage and analyze interactions throughout the customer lifecycle. When used as an enabling technology, CRM can educate new hires on specifics like customers, regions, product preference and competition.

CRM can host, connect and analyze all the necessary elements of an onboarding plan in a rich business intelligence hub. If you account for its use to support the onboarding phase when designing your CRM platform, CRM can provide:

  • Automated onboarding workflows: CRMs often have workflow automation capabilities. You can design workflows that automate certain onboarding processes, such as sending welcome emails or assigning certain training modules. Many CRM platforms offer integration capabilities, allowing them to connect with other tools used in the onboarding process, such as human resources management systems (HRMS), learning management systems (LMS) or document management systems.
  • Centralized employee information: A CRM can serve as a repository for employee information, including contact details, role, department and other relevant data. This makes it easy for requests to be quickly routed to the right individual, improving the customer service experience.
  • Communication and collaboration: CRMs are excellent communication tools. These tools can facilitate communication among team members and departments, aiding in onboarding. It can also help new hires connect with colleagues with territory plans, relationships and customer roles laid out in one place. This keeps valuable account information with the organization and not just the individual.
  • Training, development and performance monitoring: CRM platforms can use a digital playbook to manage training programs and track the progress of new hires. This includes keeping records of completed training modules, assessments and all other learning activities. After onboarding, a CRM can continue to play a role in performance monitoring. It can be used to track key performance indicators (KPIs) and provide insights into how well new hires are adapting to their roles. Dashboards will keep the new employees focused on priorities.

Getting new hires up to speed and selling faster can be a source of hidden ROI for your business. By leveraging the functional power of your existing CRM, distributors can assemble all the elements of a robust onboarding process. Considering the high cost of adding new personnel, it’s critical to get these new hires productive as soon as possible so that ROI can be realized for the customer and the organization.

Roger Van Nuis is the director of market development for SalesProcess360.

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