GET NEW REPS OFF TO A GREAT S.T.A.R.T.

The Direct Selling News recently quoted bestselling author and consultant Ron Carucci saying that “Organizations with a standardized onboarding process experience 62% greater new hire productivity, and 50% greater new hire retention.” While this quote wasn’t originally written for our industry, it is relevant when striving to activate and retain Reps who join your organization. I would argue that the onboarding process is even more impactful in our industry, as it results in a higher percent of productivity and retention.

If you think about those interested in direct selling, they are ideally those who have the education or experience to perform the particular tasks needed to be successful. However, anyone can join a company regardless of their experience or knowledge. Therefore, it is even more important for Direct Selling companies to ensure their Reps are taught how to be successful.

An employee in a typical workplace is motivated to perform as a requirement for earning their income and benefits. By contrast, your sales force is a volunteer army. They can choose to leave at any time or to remain in an inactive status with no consequence at all. While the earnings opportunity and other motivational tools are there to entice them to work, as independent business owners — nothing is holding them accountable for their performance or forcing them to stay with a company.

When onboarding is delivered, systematically, to every new Rep that joins your organization, you free up more time for your Leaders to recruit and sell. While they will still be coaching and guiding each new Rep, they will no longer need to continuously repeat the basics of onboarding for each recruit. Their coaching time can then be spent addressing the individual needs of their team in areas such as interpersonally communication, relationship building and self-confidence. When leaders focus on coaching to improving personal skills that are critical for success, their organization will be more skilled at sharing your products, networking, recruiting and ultimately bringing in higher sales for their team and the company overall.

While it may seem like a daunting task, an onboarding solution doesn’t have to be difficult. To create a successful Rep onboarding plan for your company, leverage the many benefits of the S.M.A.R.T. strategy:

Standardized

Standardized

Capitalize on sign-up excitement! On Day 1, you have more of their attention than you ever will again, because THEY’VE just chosen to engage with YOU. Make the most of this by starting your onboarding process right away. Frontload the training to deliver more content in the first days, and then taper off over time. This aligns with their decreasing attention level, and allows more time and attention in the months after sign-up to be spent on WORKING the business instead of LEARNING the business.

Timely

Timely

Capitalize on sign-up excitement! On Day 1, you have more of their attention than you ever will again, because THEY’VE just chosen to engage with YOU. Make the most of this by starting your onboarding process right away. Frontload the training to deliver more content in the first days, and then taper off over time. This aligns with their decreasing attention level, and allows more time and attention in the months after sign-up to be spent on WORKING the business instead of LEARNING the business.

Accessible

Accessible

With the number of commitments both inside and outside the business constantly growing, today’s Rep is busier than ever. Simply posting training materials isn’t enough to reach them. You’ve got to push the information to them, and meet them where they are. Having a library of resources is still important, but equally important is a strategy for delivering the information directly to the new Rep. Automated emails, text messages and push notifications are effective vehicles to deliver your onboarding plan consistently to every individual joining your organization. Don’t simply send a link back to your resource library – instead send small nuggets of vital information that will capture their attention, engage them, and motivate them to seek out the resources.

When using videos, keep them short — getting to the key points quickly will help them stay focused and integrate the training. When sending a text or push notification, keep the message short and intriguing to inspire them to click and learn more.

Relevant

Relevant

A major pitfall of onboarding plans is the attempt to deliver all of the information at once. This can be overwhelming to the new Rep. When a rep is overwhelmed, they do not have the ability to retain the information presented and it may even result in them avoiding additional training. Remember, a confused mind does nothing.

Instead, break down the material into smaller, digestible chunks of information. Then, prioritize those pieces based on what a Rep truly needs to know in the beginning. Take advantage of triggers of activity in their business as catalysts for additional training.

For example:

  • When they get their first order – talk about providing great customer service.
  • When they recruit their first team member – talk about the role of a sponsor and how to best balance personal business needs with leadership responsibilities.

The ultimate goal of an onboarding program is to successfully integrate a new Rep into the organization, molding them into an active and productive member of your sales force. A pivotal step in achieving this long-term goal is to transition a new Rep from the initial excitement from sign-up, to ongoing motivation and engagement through your regular programs.

Incorporating your existing programs into your onboarding plan is a seamless and simple way to do this:

  • If you have a Fast Start program, focus on it first! This is a one-time opportunity to maximize earnings, and once gone is gone forever.
  • Be sure every new Rep is aware of how to leverage the compensation plan from day 1. What are the basic activities that will lead to income?
  • Clearly communicate the low-hanging fruit that is within their grasp in those first weeks/month, and then celebrate with them upon achievement.
Task-oriented

Task-oriented

Any communication to your field is a disruption to working the business. Every moment spent reading, listening to, or watching training materials is a moment that might have otherwise been spent selling or recruiting. Therefore, it is important your onboarding plan encourage action and activity.

Don’t just tell them how to time block, give them an activity to actually practice it. When you train on how to best set up a replicated site, take them to their own site and guide them on getting it live.

Don’t just tell them how to offer their services, challenge them to pick up the phone RIGHT THEN and do it. Practicing the training will build confidence, and applying it to their business right away will add to their initial success.

By keeping these DOs and DON’Ts in mind while building out your own onboarding plan, you’ll avoid those missteps that can lead to an ineffective program. Additionally, you’ll see higher engagement, increased retention, and positive feedback and support from your leaders.

One last tip: onboarding is never ‘finished’. Don’t feel like it has to be perfect before you implement. Start with the basics and build over time. Get it out there and then respond to feedback from the field. You should ALWAYS be updating and enhancing your onboarding, whether from new initiatives you’ve released that need to be captured, or from field feedback about what works and what doesn’t. Your onboarding plan, like all Rep tools, are ever-changing and constantly evolving. Don’t be afraid to try something new, as you can always re-adjust or pivot if it doesn’t work ideally.

The biggest mistake you can make when onboarding Reps is not having a plan at all.

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