Research cites that effective onboarding is one of the key factors in preparing new sales employees for success. Onboarding can help minimize employee disengagement and promote career pathing, encourage knowledge retention and better prepare individuals to contribute to the organization.

Increased engagement, a speedy turnaround and technical preparation are all critical focuses in onboarding, however, many traditional programs miss a key element: value-based training. Adopting or shifting the focus to value-based onboarding could positively impact engagement, burnout, turnover and ultimately increase return on investment (ROI). In the next section, we’ll learn how to define values-based training and how it impacts sales onboarding.

Defining Values-Based Training

Values-based training refers to programs that include but go beyond sales skills and product knowledge. The focus shifts toward instilling a set of core values and principles that guide employees’ behavior and decision-making. These values must align with the organization’s mission and vision, creating a culture with which employees can identify. By introducing sales employees to organizational values during onboarding, they are better prepared to connect with customers in a market rapidly becoming more socially conscious.

It is worth pointing out, “our inner values define who we really are,” and influence decisions in both purchasing and selling products. Values-based training brings those values into the forefront of the onboarding experience, encouraging new employees to connect with company values. More, value alignment also has the potential to increase engagement. Value alignment also has the potential to increase engagement.

Enhancing Employee Engagement

Employee engagement has been a common topic of discussion regarding sales training, especially since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the increasing popularity of remote learning environments. Webinars and articles often focus on providing clear growth opportunities, material presentation for optimal learning retention, effective coaching, and various aspects of learner physiology, such as cognitive load. A values-based training program should also be considered to foster a sense of purpose and belonging among sales employees.

Clearly communicating the company’s values and how they relate to staff roles, can give employees the opportunity to connect with the organization’s mission. Sales employees can then associate their personal values to their work as they search for the best product for their customers. This increased engagement can then in turn lead to higher job satisfaction, motivation, commitment and reduced burnout.

Mitigating Burnout and Increasing Retention

Sales can be a high pressure and demanding profession, and reducing burnout is critical to the success of any sales team. Burnout is a leading cause of turnover, with 40% of all employees citing burnout as the reason for leaving a job. Some of the top causes of burnout for employees in sales are an unreasonable workload, lack of feedback, lack of goal clarity and values misalignment.

Value alignment is best addressed by a program which is itself values based. This style of training and onboarding helps sales employees develop a strong sense of purpose or meaning in their work. Employees are less likely to experience burnout when they feel their efforts contribute to a greater good, or that their personal values align with those of their employer.

The same stressors that cause employee burnout can also increase turnover. A values-based program can reduce the costs of rehiring, therefore increasing sales employees’ sense of belonging and purpose toward their work. When employees feel connected to the values of a particular organization, they are likely to express loyalty by remaining longer with that company.

How to Create a Values-Based Onboarding Program

Incorporating value-based training can be accomplished in three steps. While more work can be done to fortify values-based themes, adding these into any program can better engage employees.

  1. The first step is to define values clearly and early in training programs. These should directly align with the mission, vision and culture of the business, and ultimately, inform the sales approach. Once these values have been made clear, they should be referenced and reinforced regularly.
  2. Second, reformat onboarding. Varied and engaging learning and design spaces are necessary to effectively mobilize employee and company values. For example, ask employees to first reflect on their personal values, followed by a reflection on company values and their intersection. Follow up with a discussion about a typical customer and their values, and how the previous reflection activity can be used to establish connections with that customer. Ultimately, employees should be as comfortable communicating values as they are product knowledge.
  3. Finally, onboarding programs must be designed with this holistic approach in mind. Ample time should be provided to reflect, and effective programs will onboard the whole person by providing employees the opportunity to apply their whole selves in work. Create an experience that makes clear how company and employee values can align, especially in sales.

While not exhaustive, these steps can be the start to building a program that fully engages your sales reps. A values-based training program that follows these steps not only can equip sales employees with necessary skills, but also instill the core values that drive success.