Insights from Chief Mastermind Jack Kelly

Are you satisfied with the performance of your Sales Organization?

If so, great! Just be aware this could be short lived. Many sales teams I interact with are flying by the seat of their pants. They operate on tribal knowledge. Not much is documented, there in no formal onboarding process, and they learn as they go.

Good news: This can work when the economy is great. You are tripping over business, current clients continue to buy without comparing you against the competition, and your inbound program is providing enough leads for everyone.

Bad news: The fundamentals are probably missing for your sales team. They are not well organized because they just react to what is in front of them. If there is a downturn in revenue and the pressure is on, they won’t know what do. They will leave for the next cushy job where they don’t have to work hard to find business. They will blame the company, not themselves, for not setting them up for success, having unreasonable expectations, etc.

And they are right.

“Slow Things Down to Speed Things Up”

You need to slow down to develop a valuable onboarding process. Too many onboarding processes look like this (does it look familiar?):

Day 1 Morning: Find desk. Fill out benefits paperwork and a job application, because you didn’t have them do it during the recruitment process. Schedule time to get their passwords and email set up – once their laptop is actually ready, which could be a couple of days because nobody told I.T. that a new sales professional was starting.

Day 1 Afternoon: Sit with one of the sales reps – typically the most recent hire because your more senior reps don’t have time — to show them the ropes: how the CRM works, the sales process, how many calls are made, what are the best shortcuts, and what is missing that is really irritating but we just have to deal with.

Day 2: You let them loose to start prospecting or following up on the dead lead stockpile, so they can get repetitions and learn by doing.

Day 3: Onboarding is complete.

Make Your Onboarding Process a Powerful Tool

Companies burn through sales professionals because of poor onboarding. Here is how to make it a powerful tool for your organization:

  • Assign a mentor – a senior sales professional to make sure your newbie not only gets through the process but has a sounding board for ANY questions.
  • Define and document what they need to learn – Department by department, figure out what any new sales professional needs to learn. Create a list and assign a resource within the department to help train the sales professional.
  • Use stories – Use real client stories, good and bad, to illustrate how to execute a successful sales experience.
  • Train to develop the right environment – Just because they have been exposed to it, doesn’t mean they know it. Developing the right sales environment requires ongoing training: Test for understanding and drill for competency. Role play. Let them shadow experienced sales professionals. Shadow them. Create an environment where they feel comfortable failing and asking any question. If they don’t ask a question out of fear, that delays proficiency, which delays their ability to drive revenue.
The Great News

Once a good onboarding process is in place, you only have to tweak it as the business grows or changes. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. It creates consistency in your sales professionals, gets them productive more quickly, and increases your retention rates.

So, let’s clean up the onboarding mess.


Jack founded the Corlea Group in early 2009 with his first client coming on board in January of that year. Jack loves to coach. He coaches his clients and he helps coach his kid’s teams – it’s his passion and has been for over 25 years as a professional, father and volunteer. Why? Because he likes to help a team succeed.

Mastermind Insights