The Boring Part of Onboarding a Salesperson

Every great author has a trilogy, and this is mine. Well, I’m not really a great author, but this is part of a trilogy. This is the third article on the topic of onboarding salespeople.

For the uninitiated, “onboarding” is what happens after you successfully complete the arduous process of hiring a new salesperson. It is also something that most companies do poorly.

I mentioned that this is part of a trilogy, sort of the third leg of a three-legged milking stool. The first article “The New Hire – Doing It Right “ provides an outline of the sales-related items that a new hire needs to know if you are to get the biggest bang for your hiring buck.

The second article “Onboarding Salespeople for Fun and Profit” covers the less than exciting topic of product knowledge. I also explain why proper onboarding is important and how it can directly impact your bottom line by bringing a new hire up to speed even more quickly.

Dry as Dirt

This third article, the one that makes a trilogy a trilogy, covers the driest of the driest in terms of subject matter – company procedures. Dry though it may be, doing it right will help get your new hire started off on the right foot from the get-go by avoiding administrative misunderstandings and petty annoyances that can sour the new relationship.

So, get yourself a cup of coffee, or better still a glass of wine, and read on. You may pick up a gem or two that you hadn’t thought about when indoctrinating a new hire into your company’s inner sanctum.

Policies and Procedures Checklist

If your company is one of the few that actually has a policies and procedures manual, don’t just hand it to the new hire and expect the person to read it. There’s no doubt it will be read, but will it be understood? It’s impossible to get clarification from a manual, and there may be hesitancy on the part of the new salesperson to ask too many questions because he fears looking dumb. Take the time to review with the employee those items that are important in getting the person started.

Some things regarding policy matters include:

Travel and entertainment expenses.

  • What’s allowed and what isn’t?
  • What expenses require receipts?
  • What are the rules for out-of-town travel?
  • What mode and class of travel is preferred?
  • Can I use my own vehicle for out-of-town travel?
  • Are there accommodation limits?
  • What are the rules for entertaining prospects? Clients?
  • Are there dollar limits for entertainment?
  • What expense forms are used?
  • When are expenses due?
  • When are expenses paid?

Automobile expenses.

  • Who pays for the gas?
  • What parking expenses are covered?
  • Does the company pick up parking tickets?
  • Are mileage records required?
  • What mileage rates are paid?
  • What are the restrictions on the use of a company vehicle?
  • Can I use the company vehicle for vacations?

Company credit terms.

  • Do we extend credit to customers?
  • What credit applications are used and when should they be used?
  • Am I expected to collect overdue accounts?
  • Who approves credit applications?

Product return policies.

  • When will the company take a product back?
  • When won’t the company take a product back?
  • Any restocking charges?
  • Is there a special form for returns?
  • What or whose approvals are required for a return?

Product/service warranties.

  • What are the warranty terms?
  • Who determines what is in or out of warranty?
  • What is the normal turn-around time on warranty repairs?
  • What are some of the extra costs not covered in the warranty?
  • Who normally does warranty repairs?

Company benefits.

  • What are they?
  • What is the employee’s portion, if any, of the cost?
  • When does the benefit plan become effective?
  • Who, besides the employee, is covered by the plan?
  • What forms, etc, are used when making a claim for medical expenses?
  • Where should completed claim forms be submitted?
  • What are some of the special features about the company’s plan?

Remuneration plan/commission structure.

  • When is payday?
  • How do I get paid?
  • What holdbacks are there?
  • What are the normal deductions?
  • Is there a draw against commission?
  • What are the limits on draws against commission?
  • What happens if the draw exceeds the limit?

A Cautionary Note

Make sure your new salespeople understand the rules under which they earn their income. At the first pay period, take the time to review the rules to avoid any misunderstanding and aggravation. Always be cautious when dealing with a person’s livelihood.

Make Your Own

Now that you’ve made it through the policy and procedures maze, you’ll realize that not everything on the checklist applies to your organization and perhaps I missed a few that are appropriate. Good. Use this list to make up your own and then tuck it away for the next time you have a new hire.

Bottom Line

Systematic onboarding of a new salesperson shows the new hire that he has joined a well-organized company and one that does things right. Start ’em off right and keep ’em.