Eight Simple Steps: New Employee Orientation

Zero Day to Floor Day: How many days in between? Personnel change across your retail stores is a matter of fact. Most retail businesses operate at around 3-5% personnel churn every month.

Given that reality, how do you get the new employee oriented? How do you get them productive as fast as possible? How do you get them floor ready?

You cannot take risks, given that they are the ambassadors of your brand. You don’t want your customer to say, “The sales person knew nothing… if only he had answered the first few questions, I would have bought the product…”.

Here are a set of thoughts on new salesperson orientation based on our experience of engaging with Sales personnel.

What are the best practices you have come across? Please share your experiences in the comments section below.

Fastest path to the floor: Running an effective mobile-based new employee orientation program

Running an effective mobile-based new employee orientation program

The Same Time, Same Place Challenge:

Before we get into the operational aspects, let us see why is it a challenge.

  • Employees typically join any day of the month
  • At any of the cities (say 300 of them) you have retail outlets in
  • At any of the retail outlets in those cities (say 3-4 per city on an average)
  • And you have limited number of trainers to orient them.

So, it is basically a logistical issue. In most of our discussions with salespeople, the orientation happens within 15 days of the person joining the retail outlet. Till then, the salesperson is on “honeymoon” period – with no specific knowledge or goals.

How about getting the salesperson floor ready in 3 days?

The Smartphone Swiss Knife:

Of course. The solution is the smartphone. Every new salesperson has one. Accelerate the new hire induction through a smartphone based program. Companies across industries like Consumer Electronics, Electronic Accessories, Healthcare, and Telco have set up structured new hire orientation through smartphones.

What is in it for me?

What is in it for you? Well, that depends on whom you are.

For the company sales head

If you are the company sales head, think of gaining additional ~12 days of selling time from the salesperson. Let us look at the math.

  • Assume that you have 800 retail sales personnel across the country, and your monthly churn is 5%. That is, 40 new salespeople join every month.
  • Assume that the average inducted salesperson sells about 50 units at $1000 ASP per month
  • Assume that the mobile orientation program helps them gain around 12 days of selling time. They are on the floor with details much faster.

Incremental number of units sold : 12 days * 50 units / 30 days * 40 personnel * $1000 =  12 * 50 / 30 * 40 *1000  = 800000. A cool incremental $800K of sales due to faster orientation of the sales person.

That is the difference between leading your category and losing market share. Put a mobile orientation program in place – that will help cover some of your sales gaps.

For the local team leader – the sales person’s direct manager

You have limited outlets to produce the results from. You do not have easy access to the trainers on the day you want. You go around and train the new employees. You want to spend more time, but you have other priorities in the market.

  • A mobile new salesperson orientation program saves your time
  • Increases the time to market of your new salesperson
  • Increases the motivation of the salesperson and reduces early attrition. As you are aware, “uncertainty increases attrition”, “the first 2-3 weeks is important to watch out”
  • Helps you hit your numbers

You are the guardian of the process – you need to ensure that your new team member completes the orientation.

For the salesperson

  • Get all the selling information required to sell well in the first 3 days. Have a systematic, well-planned information transfer.
  • Get productive by Day 4, start showing your sales prowess.
  • Hit your numbers early in the process and get some good incentives.
  • Get aligned with the company as soon as possible

The New Employee Orientation Program Structure

1. Mandatory Certification

Package it as a mandatory program that ends up with a certification. This program is administered through a smartphone based learning system. It is initiated by the immediate manager of the new salesperson.

2. Content Structure

The content needs to be in form of :

  • Training content, interactive and videos
  • Handouts for further reading
  • Assessments

The content needs to get delivered in millennial-friendly “7-minute nuggets” – to be consumed over the first 3 days.

3. Content coverage

Plan to cover the following content.

  • Company

    • A welcome video from the company senior management
    • Training covering History, Culture, Innovations, Awards
  • KPIs

    • Get here right at the beginning: This will set the tone for the rest of the training
  • Processes

    • Joining formalities – how to get the salary account configured, leave system set up etc.
    • Daily routine recommended and processes thereof
    • What is the selling process recommended by the company to the salesperson
    • Mandatory reporting processes
  • Products

    • The biggest section of the training program
    • De-mystify the product technology to any fresh sales people or people from other segments
    • Get a clear articulation of the product portfolio – explain the function of each of the products in the portfolio
    • Focus on: Target audience for the product, the elevator pitch, key selling propositions, further explanation of difficult terms, competition handling, objection handling, the stories to be told and conclude with a neat summary.
    • Include product brochures, videos, demos and other titbits in the training

The content structure needs to be reviewed every quarter for new information that is required for selling.

4. Assessments

  • At each stage of the program, set up assessments. There are two different objectives for assessments and they have to be set up differently:
    • Assessment to reinforce the learning: Typically immediately after a module or for a refresher. Push the sales person to take the assessment until they get 100% correct.
    • Assessment to check the learning levels: Could be timed or not timed, with randomization in questions. This is to check the knowledge level score of the person.
    • Set up one assessment in the orientation time frame. Set up another at Day + 15 and Day + 30 to reinforce the learning and assess knowledge retention levels.

5. Process Rigor: Core Messaging

  • It should be made amply clear in the initial communication process that this is absolutely mandatory before the person hits the floor. Experienced sales personnel might try to skip – that should be done consciously by the team leader.
  • The training manager should give the overall annual training plan in the video and say that this is an important part of being a salesperson for this company.
  • The Team Leader should be in charge of inviting the user to the training application – and making sure that the salesperson gets familiar about what needs to be done.

6. Badges

  • Some companies provide a stock of badges to the immediate manager. The Immediate Manager can provide the badge to the salesperson on completion of the course. The smartphone app can also provide the badges.

7. Responsibility

  • Messaging on importance and setting up the environment: Sales Head & the sales hierarchy
  • Getting the content ready and refreshed – the program structure in place: Training Manager
  • Inviting the user to the app, getting them oriented and tasking them to complete the orientation: Immediate Manager
  • Getting trained and certified by Day 3 informing the immediate manager: The New Sales Person

8. Metrics

  • Operational metrics: Number of new joiners per month, number of joiners certified in <3 days, 4-10 days, 10+ days
  • Knowledge metrics: Quiz scores for the program. Certification Quiz, D+15 quiz (15 days after the program), D+30 quiz.
  • Business Impact: We can easily measure the “before-after” of this program. Check the new salesperson Month 1 performance before the implementation of the program and after – that will clearly indicate the net impact of the program.

On the floor on Day 3

  • Companies can gain a lot of getting the salesperson floor ready asap: The revenue, leadership and morale benefits are enormous.
  • A smartphone-based employee orientation program is a force multiplier. It can get the new team ready for the Face 2 Face logistics are worked out.
  • The sales management commitment to execute the program and the messaging is most critical for success
  • Set up content based on Company, KPIs, Processes, and Products. Set up assessments on Day 3, Day 15, Day 30.
  • Give certification, badges – make it aspirational.
  • Track the metrics of the program: Operational, Knowledge, Business Impact

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