Job shadowing with structured reflection accelerates sales ramp-up.

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“Experience alone does not lead to learning; reflection on experience is essential,” states John Loughran, an internationally recognised professor whose work focuses on teaching and learning.

What does this mean when onboarding new salespeople?

job shadowingEssentially, no matter how much training, job shadowing and experience your new hires rack up, they won’t reach their full potential and become productive team players unless they pause to reflecton what they’re doing, and not just by-the-by. They need to reflect in a regular, reliable, structured way. It starts from the moment they begin their functional onboarding process, but it really kicks up a notch when they job shadow more experienced salespeople in your team.

In part 4 of our blog series, ‘5 ingredients of functional onboarding to set your salespeople up for success’, we’ll look at how your salespeople can get the most out of job shadowing through self-reflection and how you can facilitate this to greatest effect. 

Level up your job shadowing

Some things can’t be taught through manufacturing customer scenarios or posing hypothetical questions. That’s why job shadowing is such an integral part of onboarding salespeople.

Job shadowing allows your new hires to get acquainted with the nuances of sales and pick up things that aren’t explicitly recorded. 

However, ensuring they retain what they’ve learnt through observation and that they understand how to apply that learning to their own customer interactions requires reflection.  

Arguably the most established model for self-reflection is Gibbs’ reflective cycle. This model sets out 6 clear steps to turn your new hires’ observations into lasting knowledge and actionable points to improve their sales techniques. Work these steps into your job shadowing program and you’ll see your new salespeople achieve competency more quickly.

Here are the key questions your new salespeople need to answer as they work their way through Gibbs’ reflective cycle, following a job shadowing experience:

Step 1. Description

What happened?

This is the easy part. It lays out the facts of what they observed: 

Step 2. Feelings

What were your thoughts and feelings?

And now the reflection begins in earnest. Your new hire needs to consider their thoughts on the situation they observed. They also need to be frank about how they felt before, during and after it.

Step 3. Evaluation

What was good and bad about the situation?

There are positives and negatives to take away from every customer interaction. Your new hire needs to take stock of what went well and what could’ve gone better. 

Step 4. Analysis

Having gone through steps 1-3, what do you now make of the situation?

Now it’s time for your new hire to attribute ‘why’ to each of the positives and negatives identified in their evaluation. This is where self-reflection makes real inroads into the learning process. 

Step 5. Conclusions

What have you learned from this situation? 

Drawing conclusions from their shadowing experience is about identifying the skills they need to develop to handle a similar situation when they face it alone.

Step 6. Action plan

How can you develop the skills needed to best handle this situation?

Your new hire needs to turn their reflections into action plans, whether it’s working on their ability to identify customer pain points, swotting up on product specs or developing a more confident tone and pitch. 

Practising this structured approach to self-reflection will continue to develop your salespeople long after their functional onboarding is complete. Ongoing self-reflection is key to the continued development of all salespeople. 

Putting structured self-reflection in place

Structured self-reflection only works when you can implement it in a reliable, repeatable way. That’s when our functional onboarding platform, On.Board comes in. 

You can quickly and easily create a fully customisable mobile onboarding programme through our user-friendly builder — no tech experts needed. 

Prompt your new hires to reflect on their job shadowing using customised self-reflection forms to pose each of the above questions. 

On completion of these forms, their sales coach or line manager gets an instant alert to feedback on their reflection, validating their observations and conclusions and steering them in the right direction when it comes to skills development. 

Using On.Board, you can chart, facilitate and ultimately accelerate the speed to competence of your new salespeople. See exactly how for yourself by requesting your free demo of On.Board

In the final part of our blog series, we’ll look at how to coach, evaluate and feedback effectively when your new salespeople start going solo.


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