Developing Role-Specific Onboarding

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New hires want to feel valued at their organization from the moment they start their new role. But often, overly generalized onboarding programs that lack detail and relevance can leave new hires feeling disengaged and unsure of what success looks like in their new position.

The key to creating successful and engaging onboarding programs starts with developing role-specific paths. With different learning paths for different types of reps, such as business development, account executives, account managers, and more, enablement can help new hires deepen their understanding of their specific role, and its impact on the overall organization.

Role-specific onboarding helps new reps understand how they can add unique value to the organization they’ve just joined, giving them the opportunity to expand on their responsibilities and performance expectations and how these contribute to the organization’s top priorities.

“On the enablement side…that empowers us to curate a more targeted onboarding and ever-boarding experience for the teams we support, along with much more meaningful certifications or assessments and coaching opportunities throughout the process,” said Devon McDermott, head of enablement at Dandy. “What that does is ensures that we’re focused on continually developing and empowering the teams we support to make sure that they’re executing flawlessly and are leveling up and seeing progress in the organization.”

To begin developing role-specific onboarding programs, consider how enablement can build on the onboarding foundations already in place and hone them to tailor key aspects to the specific roles of new hires.

Developing Generalized Content With Tailored Sessions for Specific Roles

Developing role-specific onboarding doesn’t necessarily require an overhaul of learning content. While leveraging generalized onboarding content that is relevant for all teams, consider how specific sessions can be tailored to supplement the core curriculum and dig into key competencies and information that are relevant for different role types.

Creating generalized content with tailored role-specific sessions allows enablement to streamline the onboarding process and foster rep engagement by maximizing relevance. This also gives reps the opportunity to interact with new hires across different parts of the organization through the general sessions, helping cross-functional peers realize opportunities for collaboration and synergy.

“Each role contributes something unique to both the sales funnel and the customer journey,” said Nieka Mamczak, senior manager of enablement, customer success at Stack Overflow. “In order to ensure that that life cycle of the lead and the sales stages for opportunities are managed thoroughly, it’s best to highlight in role-based training the importance of each step and how each role brings or can bring their creativity and relationship building to both of those journeys.”

Having New Reps Create a Personalized Success Roadmap

During a role-specific onboarding program, new reps can work hand-in-hand with enablement to create a personalized success roadmap that holds them accountable to an actionable plan to reach their career goals. New hires want to see how their contributions in their new role are directly impacting the success of their organization, leading them to want to stay at the organization for a longer period of time and fully invest their talents into their new role.

“We’re motivating the team by giving them foundations for mastery and success through a very clear roadmap for leveling up and providing the enablement and talent development solutions to actually get there,” said McDermott. “So, it’s the full scope of what we need to do to empower our employee success and to drive a meaningful sales culture.”

Personalized roadmaps include detailed plans, mapping out rep development over the course of their lifecycle with a company, from onboarding to ongoing development. New reps are able to clearly visualize the steps needed to achieve success in their current role as well as plan for what success will look like in the future as they progress in their career. This instills in them a sense of empowerment to excel in their new role, as they fully understand what it takes to move upwards in their organization.

“By aligning on those roles, responsibilities, and competencies, we can create clearer assessments and skills tracking,” said McDermott.

Armed with a personalized map to success based on a rep’s responsibilities and long-term goals, enablement and managers can keep track of rep progress and identify areas where additional support could be beneficial. This holds reps accountable for staying on track with their onboarding goals while also establishing a path to continued success once a rep completes their onboarding requirements.

Similarly, reps within the same role type may also have varying levels of knowledge and skills. Offering them options to curate their learning experience even further based on their individual goals and the starting point that they are currently at can help improve the impact of the onboarding process.

“You want to design your class experience to target the learner where they’re at, and when they’re kind of all over the place, it’s hard to have multiple experiences,” said Julie Dirksen, author of “Design for How People Learn.” “Create a good way to set options in front of people so that they can adjust to the level that they want to be at, or that they need to be.”

Focusing on Activity-Based Learning

Activity-based learning allows reps to build the knowledge and skills that they will need for day-to-day success through practice. Helping reps get hands-on experience during the learning experience that is specific to the actual actions that will be required of them on the job can allow reps to build the necessary confidence to begin producing quickly.

To start, identify timeline goals for when a new rep should be able to reach key milestones based on the specific responsibilities of their role, such as time to first discovery call for a business development rep or time to first expansion deal for an account manager. Once those milestones are identified with specific dates attached to them, enablement can then isolate key activities that will allow reps to reach those milestones in alignment with their allocated timeline.

Importantly, identifying and facilitating different activities for different role types can ensure that the skills reps build in onboarding are directly transferable to the skills they need to effectively execute their responsibilities on a daily basis.

“How the customer first begins their journey might be with both the SDRs and ADRs, so you want to work on very specific strategies there in establishing trust in relationship building,” said Mamczak. “When it comes to the actual selling to the customer, you want to make sure that AEs are equipped with enough strategies and best practices to be hungry salespeople, to be metrics-driven, and to be results-oriented. Then on the flip side, once a customer becomes a customer, you want to make sure that your customer success team is equipped with enough relationship building as well as growth and scalable strategies.”

Focusing on activity-based learning during onboarding as it relates to the responsibilities of each role can give reps time to develop best practices to ensure success in their new roles.

Developing role-specific onboarding can not only help ensure that reps can get up to speed quickly and effectively, but it can also help drive long-term rep engagement that will ultimately translate into higher performance over time. In fact, organizations with high rep engagement report 13-percentage-point improvements in average quota attainment. By designing the onboarding experience to include role-specific paths through efforts such as tailored sessions, personalized success maps, and activity-based learning, enablement can help foster long-term rep success from day one.

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