5 Components of a Great Sales Onboarding Experience

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What’s the most important component of a sales rep’s onboarding process? If we measure by time spent, most companies’ inadvertent answer would be company history, product, and systems. In an employee’s first few weeks, that’s where the majority of time is spent.

Outside of company orientation, there are five components of a great sales onboarding experience:

  1. Sales
  2. Acumen
  3. Systems
  4. Process
  5. Product

I’ve put these in priority order, let me tell you why I rank sales first and product last (you probably didn’t see that coming):


Sales tactics are the little skills that determine if an employee feels successful in their first 90 days. If you want them to stay, this is critical. Too often young reps quit sales because those first few months are full of calls, voicemails, and rejections. Product training will help them in a few months when they have sales conversations, but we need to focus first on getting them more of these conversations

DOWNLOAD: Sales Team Retention Infographic

Focus on skills like how to prospect, how to make an outbound dial, how to write a valuable sales email, how to leave a good voicemail, and how to overcome initial brush-offs. When we focus on these skills with new hires, we see results like 200% more productivity than previous new hire classes (HPE, 2023).

Pro Tip: weave sales training and practice into the curriculum daily. Combine with product training to produce better questions, with acumen information to help identify ICPs and do better discovery. Daily practice builds better recall and confidence!

READ: Quick Sales Voicemail Tips to Build Phone Confidence

Yes! Outsourcing sales training in new hire onboarding can be very successful. License a vendor’s online content for a great virtual experience and then come together in live workshops to tailor messaging and role play. You’ll save time and help reps ramp faster.


This is business, industry, and customer know-how. What do they care about, what are the challenges, what are the trends, and how do I have an intelligent conversation with them? Then, how do these relate to what I’m selling? New reps are afraid of conversations, and helping them get to know their customer and their customer’s business, lingo, questions, and challenges can fix this. 

Use customer testimonials, old call recordings, and lingo bingo to get the voice of the customer. 


I wish I could put systems last, but just like sales, it takes repetition to get good. Please resist the temptation to teach a system start to finish and start instead with the first 10 things they’ll do on the job. 

Practice system drills DURING sales role plays. It’s not the individual skill that’s hard, it’s using them together. Systems finals should include multi-tasking and be timed.

Systems and sales are ripe for outsourcing by the way. Use your systems provider’s training – just re-organize it from the rep’s point of view. Using outsourced training helps mix it up, cover different learning styles, and infuse your program with expertise. Same with sales – some things need to be customized but don’t rely on professional training facilitators to coach selling tips.

READ: How to Build Sales Confidence During Onboarding


Process is how to GSD (get stuff done). Try organizing this by the top ten questions managers get and customers ask. Teach reps how to use tools to answer their questions instead of giving them the answers. I like a good scavenger hunt for this and it’s easy to do remotely. Reps need to know how to get accounts assigned to them, do research, send info, answer customer questions – do a day-in-the-life study of your last newbies, and your curriculum is written!

Process training can also cross over into acumen practice. Role-play conversations with customers or use recordings with questions and challenge reps to find the answers. 


Finally product. Sure, I overcorrected a hair by putting it last, but there’s such a glut of product training in most programs I wanted to balance it a bit! When we give full-blown product training to new hires, we actually DECREASE their confidence. If you don’t expect a rep to have a conversation about the intricacies of what you provide in the first 2 months, then SKIP THIS. Focus instead on what problems it solves, the customer situations/profiles who love it, and the questions to ask to uncover this situation. Then provide resources just in case to look up answers. Slimming down the product features and functionality helps beef up the “how to sell it” portion. 

Pro Tip: do product training daily just before sales training so you can incorporate the product situation questions into your sales questions and be teaching them how to do discovery right from the start.

We’re talking about unconscious incompetence and it’s important. We can’t have reps making outbound dials feel underprepared and afraid. So lop off half of the training you’re doing in the first month and instead drill the basics. If they don’t know the complexities of what they’re selling in month one it’s a win. We will only retain about 50% of what we’re taught in sales onboarding unless we drill it, practice it, and role-play it, so less info and more practice! Bonus: mix it all up and use it together like they will on the job.

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