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Sales vs. Marketing: What to Know about Onboarding

The Betts Team
October 17, 2019

Did you know it costs SaaS companies an average of $97,000 every time a sales representative quits? And new salespeople are more likely to stay with a company for three years or longer if there is a formal employee onboarding process in place. 


When you’re starting a new SaaS sales job, the first 90 days are critical for establishing the level of impact and success you can have in the organization. If you’re thrown into the deep end with little training, you’re bound to flounder and make mistakes. Alternatively, having a smooth new hire onboarding process can ease your first day and week jitters as well as set you up for long-term success. 


Having a solid onboarding process is even more important for people switching into a sales role from another department, such as marketing. Since it’s relatively common for salespeople to make a career transition into marketing and vice-versa, this post will compare the onboarding processes for both types of roles, so you can be prepared if you’re thinking about a career change.

The similarities between SaaS sales and marketing onboarding

While there are some key differences between SaaS sales and marketing onboarding best practices, the reality is that 80% of the onboarding tasks you’ll experience are roughly the same.   These tasks include:

  • Getting an email before your start date with an agenda on what to expect on your first day at the new job. 
  • Get all of the HR paperwork and administrative tasks squared away before or on your first day.
  • Meet everyone on the team and any direct stakeholders within the first week. 
  • Get access to all of the necessary tools and software to do you job within the first day or two (i.e. laptop, email, various software logins, etc.). 
  • Read through a new hire playbook (ideally lives in your internal Wiki/intranet) with the company organization chart, key stakeholders, sales and marketing guidelines, where to find relevant information/documents, buyer personas (if you have them), competitor information, etc. 
  • Conduct a 1:1 with your manager within the first week.
  • Get product training within the first month. 
  • Set 30, 60, and 90-day goals with your manager and key stakeholders so that you can start to make an impact right away.

Take your time with product and sales training

The biggest difference you’ll encounter is in the amount and duration of training.


If your last role was in marketing, you probably were already ramped up and making an impact within the first few weeks on the job.


For sales, the ramp-up time is about 120 days. Oftentimes, the ramp-up time, until they are 100% effective, is 6-9 months.


There are a lot more nuances in a SaaS sales role from your responsibilities, the accounts you’re working on, what they’re selling, whom you’re selling to, how you’re selling, product training, competitor insights, and beyond.


While it can be tempting to jump on the phone within the first couple of weeks, this is a recipe for disaster. Instead, you want to spend the time learning the ins and outs of the product(s) that you’re selling. This can range from a few days for a relatively simple product to several months for a technical SaaS solution.


The other aspect of training is sales coaching, as even the most veteran salespeople will have a learning curve as they have to understand the types of prospects they’re selling to. This process should start with shadowing other sales team members’ calls. Then, you’ll start taking the calls with either your manager or another team member shadowing you. Then, once you’re ready, you can start taking calls on your own. Once you’re doing that, there should still be regular 1:1s with your manager to help you improve and close more deals.

Assign new SaaS sales reps with veteran team members

Another key difference between onboarding sales and marketing employees is that as a new sales hire, you can really benefit from chatting with veteran team members. In most SaaS sales teams, there are tons of insider and tribal knowledge that isn’t spelled out in your sales playbooks, internal wiki, or random team Google Docs. A new hire can really only learn this from talking with other sales reps and shadowing calls.   In general, the more time you spend at the start learning the ropes and building relationships with fellow sales team members, the more success you’ll have once they start pounding the phones.   While there are a lot of similarities between onboarding new SaaS sales and marketing employees, there are a couple of key differences.  The biggest is that it takes more time to ramp up in a sales role. When you have additional support in the form of product training, sales coaching, and a buddy system, this can make this process easier.