Our AMA (Ask Me Anything) series sees us put top sales enablement professionals on the spot to ask questions posed by YOU.

Pandora's Training & Enablement Manager, Willa Fogarty, recently answered your questions on all things onboarding - a process critical to setting new hires up for success.

An ATD-certified trainer, Willa is responsible for creating and designing programs for onboarding, skills, and management training that bring a culture of learning, career confidence, and creativity to Pandora.

Q. Have you found ramp time and scaling time have been impacted by the events of the past year? And is there anything you’ve changed that you’d carry over into your programs when we (hopefully soon) get ‘back to normal’?

A. Good question - ramp time has definitely been impacted. I think one of the hardest things for new hires in the virtual world is not being able to walk over to their co-worker's desk to ask a question. To help with this, we started doing weekly virtual check-ins with new hires to give them space to get to know one another better, get their questions answered, etc. This has helped with ramp time, and we'll continue doing this.

Since the new hires already know each other, they feel more comfortable by the time we get to the live sessions - so we find that there's more participation, engagement, and questions asked!

Q. Can you go into more detail about some of the strategies that you've used?

A. 1. When the new hire starts, we collect their address and send them a welcome gift. The gift has a note, candle, and a few WFH treats.

2. We’ve set up regular virtual 'check-ins' where we bring the new hires together informally (prior to the virtual live sessions) and invite other sellers/experts to come and answer any questions new hires have. This has given them a bit more time to get to know each other virtually and build connections with each other and people at the company.

3. Lastly, we’ve been very intentional with taking our in-person onboarding phase to virtual. We have a rule that there has to be some kind of engagement/interaction every five minutes to keep the audience engaged (whether it’s a discussion question we ask, body poll, break-out room, etc). We've found this has been helpful to encourage more participation, better learning, and ultimately a better virtual environment for everyone.

Q. How do you encourage cross-functional collaboration between teams at Pandora?

A. Luckily, our org has to be collaborative in order to get their work done, so our team focuses on giving them the tools/knowledge to collaborate successfully.

Firstly, we emphasize the importance of collaboration in onboarding - we have a session that our sales, client services, and other internal partners go through together that is focused on communication styles and how to successfully partner with others that have different styles than you.

We also provide a lot of ongoing workshops that discuss skills related to collaboration - giving feedback, developing influence, assigning roles and responsibilities, etc.

Q. How much should you empower salespeople to take responsibility for their own learning vs being prescriptive about, for example, the kind of content, cadences, etc they should be using? Both are important, but how do you achieve the correct balance?

A. Agree that this can be hard to balance. I’d say 60-70% of our onboarding is prescriptive where we’re giving people the systems, processes, and best practices they need to learn.

However, a large theme we emphasize in our onboarding is that you’ll never know all the answers - it’s just too much! So we focus on empowering them to know where they can go to find the answers they need.

We also have a mentor program in conjunction with onboarding where each new hire is working 1/1 with a seasoned seller. This mentor gives them feedback, answers any questions, and acts as a sounding board for the new hire as they progress in the company.

Q. In terms of onboarding vs ongoing training/coaching, how is sales enablement’s time split at Pandora?

A. Our team does both actually. We do all of the initial onboarding for our Sales and Client Services new hires, but then we also handle GTM/product training, management, and skills training. In terms of time split, I'd say 30% onboarding and 70% for our other programs.

Q. Measuring the success of enablement can be tricky (as can demonstrating the ROI). How do you do this, particularly for onboarding? Ramping time?

A. Yes, we definitely measure ramp time. Another strategy we’ve found successful is defining a set of competencies for each role. We have new hires give themselves a self-assessment of these prior to onboarding, one more time after they’ve finished onboarding, and then have their manager assess them about three months after the new hire finishes onboarding. We use their progress as a way to demonstrate ROI.

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