The biggest failure of onboarding programsWhat do ‘Baby Shark’ and Enablement have in common? Nothing! But now you have the earworm too 🙂

Adriana Romero and Pooja Kumar had a fun conversation, full of insights on how you can make sure your onboarding programs are successful. Lots of great information from their experience and the experience of other excellent enablers here. Just a few of the highlights are

– You are still dating when onboarding so make sure you are making a good impression. Consider the details you are putting forward to them.

– Change should be a constant. Reflect after every cohort to see how you can make this better. Ask your reps ” if you had the power to change one thing, what would it be?”

– Less is more- Give them less information at the start ( hint:no boot camps), and create a space where they learn by doing.

– Peer to Peer learning is king!

– The most valuable advice of all time, leave your ego at the door when designing/ revamping your program.

Lots more tips in this lively chat. Curious? Give it a listen here.

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Audio Transcript

Pooja Kumar
Beautiful I think we’re live now. Welcome to coffee collaboration and enablement for ASEAN in India. I am here to create a place where sales enablement professionals and leaders, business leaders and, and others other sales leaders can come together and learn from each other new ways of accelerating their sales team’s performance. I am absolutely thrilled today to have someone that I think is an absolute enablement gun. And her name is Adriana, I’m going to ask her to introduce herself in a minute. Adriana and I have worked together for the trust enablement community, we’ve been on the board for the trust enablement community, and Adriana is all I mean, apart from being an enablement gun, we have shared so much information on sales enablement, and I feel like she is all about connecting, helping facilitating information and helping build the sales enablement community. She’s also an engineer, turn salesperson turn sales coach. And so she comes from a background of looking at everything from the eyes of an engineer, which I think is really valuable and sales enablement. And she’s currently the director of sales enablement solutions at level jump. Adriana, did I do that justice,

Adriana Romero
you’re like, Oh, God, like, I’m gonna get you to introduce me everywhere. This is amazing. I love it. Thank you so much. I am so thrilled to be in the future right now. Because you are in the future for me. So you’re one day ahead. And I love it. I love being able to say hi to all your audience, you know, in India and Asia and all these beautiful countries that you know, I typically don’t get a chance to meet and greet all the time. So I find it fascinating. So as you guys are enjoying your morning coffee or tea, I am you know, here in Canada, it is 9:02pm. And as I was sharing with Pooja, I just finished my day. And excuse my look if I didn’t look very professional at this time, ready for bed. But I am so excited that Pooja gave me the opportunity to talk with her today. So thank you so much for having me.

Pooja Kumar
No, thank you for being here. And you look fantastic. Thank you. Thank you better than I do at 9pm. Yeah, and sharing your knowledge. Now what I wanted to talk about is, as some of you may know, in sales in August, the trust enablement community declared it to be sales onboarding month. And we had a whole bunch of experts from around the world, different industries, talking to us about sales, onboarding, and what works. And when Adriana and I were talking, what we realized is that perhaps a piece that hasn’t been talked about enough is where do we fail with sales onboarding. And that’s what we wanted to talk about to to help. When Adrian I, Adriana and I were talking we I realized that there’s a few things that I need to consider. And I thought maybe you may want to consider what are some of the areas that help us fail with sales onboarding programs. So Adriana, tell us what, what do you think about what onboarding programs are like right now? And maybe some of the successes and some of the failures? Give me What’s your thoughts on this topic.

Adriana Romero
So it’s funny because today, I was talking with one of my dear friends, also part of our community, and we were chatting about all this waves of training and how people are still thinking that training is dump information on people, get them to do a quiz and then carry on with your lives. And onboarding, onboarding for me fails. And that way, we believe and this is something that we have universally done. And I’m gonna I’m going to speak in a in a language that I’m including myself, because I have done onboarding for seven years, and I am sure I have done more failures that I can realize, right? And I think that we need to understand a couple of things. A, this is still a person when we get our sellers that are brand new in the company. We’re still getting to know each other and you know, Pooja you, you and I shared this. I love to do analogies, especially dating analogies, and I find them so everybody can relate to these right 20 type of relationship analogies. When we’re onboarding somebody, we’re still in the dating phase. Like we’re not we’re not married, you know, even though we signed a contract, we’re still getting To know each other, right? That means the seller is getting to know the company and the company is getting to know the seller. And sometimes the biggest failure is to think that everybody is going to be learning at the same pace, learning at the same, you know, the same kind of speed, they’re going to come with the same sense of absorbing things like a sponge and practicing. And everybody comes with their own biases with their own learnings with their own experience, right. And especially when you are hiring in diverse, you know, communities where you hire people that maybe have more experience less experience, but everybody is new in your company, you have to treat them in a way that you’re also getting to know them, right?

Pooja Kumar
Absolutely. Yeah, it really is so much more than the training It is about. And I love the dating analogy, it is about getting to know them, and letting them get to know the company. In fact, I just Dave Now, put it nicely. He says onboarding doesn’t start with your very first day of work, it actually starts at your very first interview, and your your new status, be exposed to cultures off the business. And the language that you use and the way business things are we forget all of that. When you’re on

Adriana Romero
100%, I’m going to tell you an anecdote because I love that phrase from from Dave smart guy. By the way, if you don’t know, David, now you have to know him. I remember when I was in my previous company, like if any of you are part of a very fast scale up or startup environment, where everybody’s used to talking fast and everything moves fast. There’s one very simple and important thing that we forget. To your point, people do not understand the language that you speak, the acronyms that you use the phrases that you know, the inside jokes, anything, people do not know this, yeah, people get very lost. And I saw that in the faces not only in the face of people, I remember onboarding myself in that company. And and even though we were still a small company, it was, you know, we were maybe 50 people, there were already nomenclatures and acronyms that I was like, What are they talking about? And, you know, I realized, as I started to onboard my own cohorts that this was a kind of a blocker, that I would tell people things they’d be like, I don’t know what you’re talking about. So I started to really get granular with what are the things if I’m in this chapter of the book, what do I need to know? And I realized that we need to create things like a dictionary of the company’s acronyms, a dictionary of the sales floor, acronyms. A, who is who in the sales floor, I needed to start doing things like get to know the VP of sales, because the company is not small anymore. And that you need to get to know this person he needs to get to know you. So those little details are so important. Again, like dating, when you kind of understand what type of food the person likes to eat, what type of movies and you kind of get into that rhythm. We we assume many things with new with new sellers. And I remember I had a leader who said, We onboard people starting in chapter five, but we never tell them chapters one to five. Yeah, right. And that is a very, very big mistake.

Pooja Kumar
And you talked about small companies, I’ve only worked for big companies. And I feel like a bet is amplified TEDx and big companies, because it’s assumed that you notice what actually in one of the places that I’ve worked in, there was an acronym Dictionary of 500 plus words.

Adriana Romero
Oh, my God, God is impressive.

Pooja Kumar
Yes, the people will last for quite a while. But you know, I mean, it is it to your point, it is really important to have some sort of a system where they get to understand the culture of the company, and the culture of the team and the environment as Yes. Understand. The people that you work with. Yeah, and I think Adriana that changes, I mean, I go back to the team and the environment that changes so so there’s people who have actually put together excellent onboarding programs. And and from a lot of people that I speak to the onboarding programs are excellent for five years ago. Yeah, the team, the environment, the key messaging, the culture, the types of people that hire, the profiles of people that get hired, it all changed. And what was red, what was okay, five years ago really does need to be revamped and re looked at all of the time, all the time, just in the last two years. Think about it. How am I as a customer’s environment changed in the last two years? That’s the conversations that we’re having. Yeah, as salespeople changes over the last two years, and how many times has that landscape changed? And thus, we need to really look at and keep looking at and, you know, I think this is a place that I feel I need to do better work, reflect quarterly on what’s working, is this onboarding program giving me the results that I need? Yeah. Or do I need to think about another way of doing it? Do I need to? I mean, I don’t know do you? Do you go and speak to your new hires? a month or two later? Oh,

Adriana Romero
how was that for you? 100%. And so my first job as an enabler, was actually being the program manager of onboarding. That was all I did.

Pooja Kumar
Oh, me. Wow.

Adriana Romero
And this was me coming fresh from being an account executive for many years, and transitioning into enablement. And I was supposed to be managing a product enablement. And after a month of things that changed, I got they told me, hey, onboarding is yours. It’s like, I’m talking about open text, which is a global company. I’m not talking about a startup like this was a mature company, 25 years old, when the time that I was that I was joining the team 60 something acquisitions By that time, like, we’re talking maturity. So I’m like, Okay, I need to manage it. So there was a to your point and onboarding program that everybody loved. Right? There was the boot camp week, and you know how I feel about the word boot camp, I do not like it, let’s call it the sales enablement work week. And there was many things and I remember going because I was not onboard it. But that program, I had a very, here’s your desk and your computer, good luck onboarding. And I remember going and seeing and saying, Okay, I’m going to go and observe the process of a new cohort from the boarding the pre boarding the whole thing, and especially during that week, and I remember walking into that week, and walking out and my director asked me, so what do you think? And I told him, I think this was an absolute disaster. He’s like, What do you mean, everybody gave us raging reviews? I’m like, this was the most boring week of my life. So yeah, yeah. And you know, this, there’s, I respect people that ask in a survey, I never believe in them, because people are going to answer them by, let me just give them whatever they want to hear. I have to say, I would rather sit down with a glass of wine with somebody in one of those days of the week and say, okay, talk to me, what would you change, if I would give you the power and I would do this, if I would give you right now, this power, it’s yours change the onboarding program? What would you do, and I would get them to give me every wild idea they had, right. And maybe, you know, you’re not able to implement that all at the same time, but you never know what you’re going to learn from their optics. So from that moment on, I managed the onboarding program for a couple of years, I had an approximately seven cohorts per year, I made sure that every cohort, there was something I would change. Maybe I could not change the entire program at once, because it was a very big undertaking. But I would say I want to change one thing. I focused my efforts to start in that week, because it was a very expensive week, people were coming to Canada from all over the world. And I said, this is where we’re gonna make the biggest impact. And minor changes, minor changes in the optics of if I sit down and I’m coming to Canada, what do I really need to learn? Do I really need to learn how to use Salesforce when I’m in Canada? No, I can do that remote. So I think to your point, it’s very important. Every time a cohort goes not only talk with those people that onboard it, not only talk with them fresh talk with them a couple of months later, how did this help you? Are you doing your job better? Talk with the managers, what did the managers see because they’re also they’re on the front lines with you. Because as as we know, enablement is not the only one onboarding. We are facilitating and enabling the onboarding. But the manager is doing the onboarding as well, like what would they do? What would they change? And I think it is super important to do it from an optic of having very little ego and not taking it personally when people say, wow, I know that you really like this part of the program. But I think it was the worst. ask why. Why do you think it was the worst? And maybe the worst? Was it because the format of the delivery was not the best, or maybe because the facilitator was not engaging? Or maybe because the content was not important. It is not about you as an enabler. It’s about the experience of the seller, right?

Pooja Kumar
Absolutely. And we’ve got a few people on chat. And guys, if you are, there’s quite a few people on the live event do do. pop in your question. I just want to say Felix Kruger’s checking in and saying hello, I feel like and Shivam Gupta is also saying, hello, he’s loving the if you would have the power to change anything, what would that be? And I think that is so onpoint. Right. I think we all get lost in the scores, you know, how was this program for you? And we don’t ask the critical questions like, what would you change? What would you do differently? How can we support you better? And I love that I must make a note of asking my currently on boarded cohort that in a month’s time, I think I will get a lot of insights. So I think what we’ve said so far is onboard add onboarding, we’re still dating. And it’s important to remember that still there understanding more about the company and your understanding more about the employee. We must be agile in terms of looking, reviewing and checking in, yeah, what would work better? And those are kind of the two big failures, I think that we’ve covered. Is there anything else that you can? You can think, Oh, I think in my experience, the big ones too.

Adriana Romero
Those are the big ones, for sure. And they really Group A lot of things. I would say it’s important to understand things like do you need pre work or not? What are the things that you need to study on your own? And what you know, is this really giving you what you need to do your work I’m, we as I was talking today, with this, this enablement friend, we were sharing our views of, it’s better to practice during the onboarding, than to just give them you know, the drink from the fire hose, and then expect them to remember everything. And one thing I learned by doing this whole revamp revamp revamp, is that I realized with my team, and one point that it was better to give them less information during during onboarding. Get them to do the job, get them to get either the failures or the questions or the objections or get stuck in somewhere and come back and create a program where people have the space to come back and say, okay, so you went and did 20 calls. What did you learn? And what Where did you get stuck? Oh, I got stuck when they objected me on s. Okay, perfect. Now we have this, let’s write it down. That’s when people learn, especially right, especially salespeople.

Pooja Kumar
Yeah, actually, that’s, that’s one of the changes that I have recently made as well. So I feel like we give them a lot of information, and then the boot camp style information now go and do some work. And that doesn’t work. That never works. Because you’ve forgotten the forgetting curve, right? So you’ve forgotten what you did on day.

Adriana Romero
It’s like me learning how to operate my new car. And I’m gonna be super honest, I bought a new car. And as you guys know, cars nowadays are much more complicated than just turning it on and driving. There’s like a big mess. It’s so big. It comes even in the app and the phone to look kind of learn. And I’m like, I like this. Because every day that I drive the car, I realize there’s something new, and I come home, I bought in the app and I say, what is this? And it tells me I say, oh, now next time when I drive, I know that if I need this, this is how I’m going to use it. If I study that manual, you know, from one end to the other. I will forget the first part is we all know and I think that we need to understand that this is how our sellers are also you know,

Pooja Kumar
taking this right. Exactly. And and and so I do think and I love the new car and congratulations on your day. Cloud By the way, I love that analogy because it is just that right? reading the manual on how to work and then you know, a month later going and doing the work is not going to give you any better results. And so it’s important to give them and feel like says less is more, give them a little bit and then watch them and and coach them along the way to get better. The lots of people chat as chat is absolutely blowing up Tash. Now Lily. Tasha says adults learn by doing. I think everyone, by doing everybody

Adriana Romero
does even a kid, even if you if I see how my daughter learns in school, and now that we have had a world where we have had our kids learning right besides us, we forget. But we learn by doing. We don’t learn even the language by reading something. We learn it because we hear it from somebody else. And we understand what the word means. And that is why and how we can learn with that interaction. You put a kid to do you know math, and they’re going to start and they’re going to fail. They’re going to race it and do it again. Yeah, they fight fight. Oh, my daughter, I’m going to show you addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. She’s gonna forget addition after we finished division, right?

Pooja Kumar
Yep, absolutely. Absolutely. It is. It’s not just that’s why I’m saying it’s not just adults, I think by doing and especially in the virtual world that we live in. And most of the Southern Hemisphere still in a virtual world. So So I know that a lot of the northern hemisphere is going hybrid. That’s another thing to consider. So you know, what happens now versus what happens next. With onboarding and and how does that need to evolve? Because you can’t take the same program or the same kind of methodology and go, you know, let’s go.

Adriana Romero
Yeah. Which I think was one of the things that happened with a pandemic kit, right. Many people said, oh, here’s my onboarding. I’m just gonna put it online.

Pooja Kumar
I’m going to put it on zoom, and then what happens in fatigue hit. And the outcomes were even even harder. So Felix, thank you, people have learned how to manage their mental capacity by instantly forgetting. That seems irrelevant. Absolutely. Love that. That

Adriana Romero
is so good. That is so good. But there’s things feel like say, you can never forget. I think that Baby Shark will be forever ingrained in my mind, no matter how I try to forget that song. I hate you. You’ve just done it. Now it’s in my head. You’re gonna be singing Baby Shark all day.

Unknown Speaker
Oh, man.

Pooja Kumar
Um, I’m just gonna read out a couple of other tips that I thought was really interesting that came out during the during onboarding month with trust enablement. So Amanda maddix says Connect new hires to each other, as opposed to focusing exclusively on training certifications, and connecting them with leaders SMEs, have the best conversations. come from the learning huddle, sorry, I’m just taking a while terney

Adriana Romero
says yeah, no worries.

Pooja Kumar
come from learning huddles. And you were talking about that too, as well. earlier. Agree. Yeah. Yeah, I think so I’m here to learn from

Adriana Romero
each other and and I know in the virtual world is a little bit more difficult because we’re not in the sales floor. But get the cohorts to work with each other get people to create a buddy system with people from the sales floor. One thing I have done in the virtual world is I have said to the buddy who’s like the person who has been in the company for a while. I tell them open up a zoom. Put your put the other person can be unmute. Let that person listen to you as you go share your screen. As you’re going through your tool to manage your sequences or your emails. Go to your calls, get them to listen to you make dials, and after like an hour of work, share, get them to ask you questions. Why do you do this? And why do you follow? Why do you organize your work in this way? It is very important because peer learning is so important for new hires. Because you will define if you find somebody who has your style, you will learn more about the it’s funny. We kind of talk about onboarding and training but we forget that there’s these little things like how do I really use this tool and how do I organize my day, which sounds very basic, but it is where people fail in an onboarding as well.

Pooja Kumar
Exactly. So crystal is all about she swears by peer to peer learning. Hi crystal. Thanks for jumping. Hi

Adriana Romero
Krista. I love it. It’s it’s Good cheese here.

Pooja Kumar
And and just shove on put those is a sales enablement coach on my team. And what he does is he does the little bit what we’ve moved, we’ve moved towards this, this model now, the bit of information to start with over the first three months. And then what he does is he works with an individual and then creates a peer to peer learning spaces, so works with each individual to be able to support them handhold them, you know, what else? What, what went wrong with that call? How can we do that better that kind of coaching.

Adriana Romero
And that is so important Pooja, because people are going to do their jobs. And and it doesn’t matter that Oh, I’m slower than somebody else. No, no, you will feel more or less overwhelmed than other people. And one thing that I’ve also learned is take a pulse on how your onboarding is going and how your new sellers feel. And be agile enough to say, you know what, tomorrow we were supposed to start with a business case. We’re not going to do that tomorrow, I’m going to give you guys a breather for you to do ABC. How about we start that on Monday? And you see how people react positively to the fact that you are reading the room? Right? And it is so important to do that. So I think it’s great that you’re dedicating a resource to actually help and handhold your new hires. Yeah,

Pooja Kumar
yeah. I mean, manager in theory, we would say managers should do it. But a manager who’s managing 15 people is likely to be able to find time, daily. We do work very closely with the managers. Yeah, to kind of work,

Adriana Romero
which is important. And I think another thing that I learned was, you know, at one point, you think I’m here, I’m doing my onboarding, leave me alone, and the managers are there. And I learned the hard way how that can be contrary intuitive to what you really want to do. Because then comes the blame game. You didn’t do it? No, you didn’t do it. No, somebody hired wrong. No, you’d never know. And I said, you know, what, I would rather over inform my team and give them more information that is based on I would base it on people attending training, metrics on how they were doing it, because we need metrics, of course. But I also had something that was called the red, yellow and green flag, Doc. Yeah. Oh, nice. Excel sheet, very, very, very scrappy. Yeah, list of the people who were hired, who was their manager, and we would put week by week observations, and we were actually color code them. Because if I have somebody who was borderline in obtaining a metric of they were in the green, we would consider keeping this person right and helping them. But if you have somebody who’s not making the calls, not achieving the meetings, not doing what they have to do, and they’re in the red, Don’t say I didn’t tell you, right, we’re all following through.

Pooja Kumar
Yeah, absolutely. And, and we use competency as well, we use the competency. What’s a we’ve created on track a piece around competencies as well. And I find that really useful because it gives you insights and crystal you love data. It gives you lots of data on on what’s going on. And some of it may be the fact that the onboarding program is or the way we’re doing something for for sorry, the way we are onboarding is perhaps not working. It’s helped us reflect but also reflect on what do we need to do to make this human being more successful? Exactly. Exactly. Okay, we’ve got one minute and I could talk to you forever, I just want to call

Adriana Romero
you serious? That was very fast.

Pooja Kumar
Um, no. Okay, I just also wanted to point out that Beverly, just to the point that onboarding doesn’t start when they come onto the team, this starts before, Beverly Heyman has said that they share knowledge. I’m not sure where Beverly works, but they share non proprietary information prior to day one, so that they have the new hire has some sense of what’s going on with the company and the culture of the company and understanding the company, some foundational knowledge knowledge before they walk in the door, which I thought was really useful. And we need a whole other conversation around this with Sapna Sophia, who, who uses the Agile methodology. So, the actual agile methodology while onboarding which is thinking in terms of critical activities for new job join us and as their milestones, rather than fitting in a sec program. I think that’s what we do. Talking about Yeah, just in time learning versus instructor led learning 100% 100% agree

Adriana Romero
with Sapna I am with you, not only because it’s a very, you know, practical way of seeing it just because it works.

Pooja Kumar
Exactly. And what I really specifically like is that in her world in the world of Agile that there is no checklists, I hate checklists. I’d like to move out of the world of checklists.

Adriana Romero
So they’re never they’re never checked.

Pooja Kumar
Alright, um, alright, I think that’s all we have time for, although there’s lots more questions. So maybe Adriana, if you could get back to some of the people on the questions in the chat.

Adriana Romero
Worse,

Pooja Kumar
but we do need to end over here. I have another meeting to go to and you need bed to get to. So

Adriana Romero
yes, no, thank you so much. If you guys please. If you’re not connected on LinkedIn, by all means, let’s connect. Thank you so much for having me today. Have an amazing day. And I will go sleep asleep right now.

Pooja Kumar
Thank you. How do they find you on LinkedIn?

Adriana Romero
So just very easy. Adriana Romero. It’s LinkedIn slash in slash Adrianna Romero, level jump. That’s my company. So if you look for me, you will find me.

Pooja Kumar
Awesome. Okay. Hey, thank you so much. Thank you for coming on. And I absolutely loved this conversation. Clearly everyone else did, too.

Adriana Romero
Thank you, everybody. Bye.

Pooja Kumar
Thanks soon.