Mistakes in the sales onboarding process are more common thank you think. Avoid them by properly learning how to onboard when hiring sales reps and avoid potential loss of revenue.


10 Sales Onboarding Mistakes:

  1. Lack of planning.
  2. Misplaced Focus.
  3. Fire Hose.
  4. No temperature check.
  5. Lack of support.
  6. Exception of immediate support.
  7. No coordination.
  8. Lack of accountability.
  9. Leaving it up to the manager.
  10. Fail to cut losses.



Lack of planning.


No process.

 “…someone comes to me and says hey we just hired a new rep and we need help onboarding. So being me I ask questions about the hiring process and 9 times out of 10 it needs a lot of work.And now we have somebody new coming into the company in 2 weeks and you want an onboarding process now?! That’s a lack of planning.”

No metrics.

“There’s no clear objective there’s no metrics to determine whether someone is successful or not successful. How do we know they’re making progress when you hear generic terms?  Without specifics it that shows a lack of planning.”

Putting out fires. 

“When there’s a lack of planning, your entire world is putting our fires and you just don’t have the time for a new hire. When something as critical as the success of your salespeople is to your company you would think that there would be a little bit more planning and preparation for the day they start with your company.”


Misplaced Focus.


Human resources.

“People turn onboarding into the logistical stuff. This is mostly orientation, human resources, and what not. And I understand that’s part of the process but people focus heavily on that stuff in terms of what their first couple days is going to look like, and they forget about the rest.”


Fire Hose.


Knowledge dump.

“Basically, we’re throwing everything that you need to know at you all at once and we’re expecting you to take a few notes, here’s a couple of books and then go get em’ tiger!”

How people learn. 

“People don’t learn by just dumping all this information on them. Think about a test and for those of you who have been students and teachers you know when the cramming is going on.You might be able to squeak by the test but your retention is very low. You’re just not going to retain what’s coming at you and if you try that with onboarding it’s the same thing. People learn over long periods of time, spaced out, and in the onboarding world it’s relevant to where they are in time.”

No logic.

“Why would you teach someone how to fill out sales paperwork the first week on the job when it’s probably going to be a bit of time before they sell their first deal?  How much of that are they going to retain? It just doesn’t work.”


No temperature check.


No mechanism.

“You go through the onboarding process, you cheer them on and you’re hoping that they’re going to be successful but you have no way of knowing that. There’s no mechanism in place for you to determine whether they’re on track or off track.”


“You’re not looking at their progress. When you have no mechanism and you’re not tracking progress, how do you know whether someone is going to be successful or not?”


“A lot of times it’s word of mouth, right? But I’m talking about something more formalized, something that helps you determine whether this person is going to be successful with your company.”


Lack of support.



“There’s no reinforcement, no key information follow up, no job aids or checklists, or documents to help you or help the rep be successful, the library is nonexistent so content and information is unavailable, all because that support mechanism is not in place.”


“Where do they go for information if you’re not available or they need answers? They go to other people in the company, that’s a double whammy. They’re bothering people they work with for answers and you hope they asked the right person because if they ask the wrong person they’re not learning how to do it the right way.”


“I went around to the managers and I said okay tell me specifically every step of the process on how you process an order in your company. And I got 5 different answers. Some of them were big and then there was arguments over who was right. That’s insanity. That tells you there’s a lack of support.”


Exception of immediate support.


Lack of understanding.

“So you don’t have an onboarding program, you don’t have reinforcement, you don’t have any of the tools or mechanisms in place to track whether they’re successful or not, but you’re expecting them to sell coming out of the gate.They don’t know anything about you, they don’t know anything about your company, they don’t know how you operate, they don’t know the ideal prospect…There’s a complete lack of understanding on how this stuff works. How do you expect someone to be successful when you haven’t given them everything they need to be successful?”

New sales rep equals revenue.

“That new sales rep to you equals revenue but they’re an expense if you’re not onboarding them properly, you’re just throwing them to the wolves and saying go sell and I expect numbers here within the next 30 days so figure it out on your own.”

How do they succeed?

“I want to put them in the best possible position to succeed. The way I do that is knowledge transfer, the way I do that is to support it, and then I do little checks and balances along the way to make sure they’re on board and I include everybody in the process because everybody has a stake in this game.”


No coordination.


This is a team sport.

“In the world we live in today this is a team sport. You need a plan, you need coordination, and you need everyone involved. So if you’re not coordinating with the players on your team, the players outside of your team, and you’re not involving them in the process in a very strong way like saying that’s not onboarding.”

You need a plan. 

“What needs to happen here is everybody needs to know their role, it should be defined, they should know exactly when they’re expected to preform. There’s a plan and you’re executing on it and as you’re going through this step by step they’re learning.”


Lack of accountability.



“The manager needs to be accountable because they’re ultimately accountable to the sales reps’ overall success. The sales rep themselves need to be accountable because it’s their success. And the only way you can do that is to score it out and hold everybody accountable to their piece.”


“When I lay this out and I have other people from other departments contributing they’re part of the accountability puzzle too. They have a job to do, they have knowledge transfer, they have to sign off that this person has met the expectations, that they can do what you taught them, and you’re comfortable with that.”

Minimal acceptable.

“When I say scoring minimal acceptable, there’s milestones along the way and you have to hit that minimal acceptable or something happens, whatever that something is. Whether they get more training and help or they go away.”


“I want feedback from everybody, I want feedback from the reps, the manager, the manager to the rep, I want the different people that are participating to provide feedback on the rep, and the process because I want to make it as good as it can be. I want to know that this new rep I hired is representing the sales department and the company well in their interactions not only internally but externally as well.”


Leaving it up to the manager.



“In a lot of companies the manager is solely responsible for onboarding the sales rep. So, first day Monday the sales rep rolls in and everybody is in the office they’re like what do I do with the new rep they just showed up?”

No Help.

“If they get no help the outcome is not going to be good. They just don’t have the time to do it all themselves and they usually do it half baked. And they’re generally dumping the rep off on somebody without any real plan in place and that doesn’t help.”

Sales department problem. 

“It’s not a sales department problem, it’s a great time and an exciting time in the company because you’ve just hired the next person who’s going to sell a ton of revenue, create profit, add to the bottom line of the company, and maybe those services help creates jobs who knows. The company expands and grows, that’s what you should be celebrating. Not ‘ugh we have a new hire’.”

Change in culture. 

“When there’s a plan, a way to execute the plan, everybody’s involved, everybody takes the role, everybody does their part so it’s not all falling on one person, you’d be amazed at the change in attitude. The change in culture.”


Fail to cut losses.


Sometimes we make a mistake.

“Sometimes we hire the wrong person. If someone is not going to make it you owe it to them, you owe it to the company, you owe it to the sales team, you owe it to yourself to end it.”

Hope they will turn it around.

“Most of us spend time hoping they will turn it around, ‘well if I just give them a little time’. I’ve said it before but I leave it up to the manager if it’s close to the line. If you want to take that risk, take it. But you need to be the one to get them where they need to be.”

Trust the process.

“But part of it is to make sure that you have the right person, that you made a good hire. Why compound the problem by letting them hand around 6-12 months? That’s a lot of money to be throwing away, a lot of wasted time. So, you need to trust the process, trust what you’ve built. It’s going to tell you whether they’re going to be successful. “


Keep Filling The Funnel

We would love to hear from you. Let us know what you think about this episode. Please feel free to reach out to us if there is a specific sales topic you would like me to cover.  You can find me on Twitter at @Sheajohnr or email me at  And if you get a chance, please feel free to review us on iTunes.


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