The influencers and talking heads of LinkedIn don’t say much about onboarding and ramp time—but in reality, this is one of the most important parts of running an effective sales organization. Hiring people who fit your team’s culture and have the soft skills you’re looking for is the first step. But once they’re on board, it’s a leader’s responsibility to make sure those people hit the ground running with an effective sales ramp strategy that equips them to succeed. 

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What is a sales ramp? 

Sales ramp-up time is the amount of time it takes a rep to fully onboard. During the ramp time, reps complete training and coaching that will help them reach peak productivity and performance in their role. 

What is the ideal ramp time/ramp rate? According to the Bridge Group, average sales ramp time is 3.2 months. However, this can vary greatly from organization to organization due to different sales cycles, quotas, how monthly or quarterly goals are defined, how many lagging indicators of success exist within a role, etc. Here are 3 things to think about when defining your ramping window:

  1. Define success within every KPI, not just quota
  2. Use historical data to define targets and length of ramp (Example: Over the past year, what was the average amount of time it took to attain target XYZ?)
  3. If it’s a non-revenue position, stair-step quota MoM; if it’s a closing role, set milestones for success (first pipeline opp, first contract out for signature, first deal, etc.)

Measuring Sales Ramp Success 

Regardless of your sales ramp time, you’ll need to define what success looks like throughout the onboarding period. New hires can only thrive when they have clear expectations. Map out what a good day, week, month, and quarter should look like, as well as what they should work toward starting from day 1. Ambition scorecard showing sales performance metrics like activities, appointments held, calls, and emails.I like to measure sales ramp success with both quantitative and qualitative sales performance metrics. You want to see continuous improvement month over month as people work towards the quota expectation you’ve set (qualitative). But you also want to see them hit that quota expectation within their ramp time frame (quantitative). 

6 Strategies to Ramp Your Reps More Successfully

Faster isn’t always better when it comes to onboarding. Sure, you want your reps to start carrying quota as soon as possible. But the quality of your onboarding process is more important, and will prove more effective, than the speed of it. When building your sales ramp, aim for efficiency and effectiveness. How can you build repeatable processes in place to scale and automate your sales ramp? Which top performers can you leverage during the onboarding process for peer<>peer coaching or shadowing? 

Here are 6 onboarding strategies and best practices to help you set your reps up for long-term success. 

  1. Imitate before you innovate. Make sure your onboarding reps have tons of shadow time with your top performers so they can learn by osmosis. Define a clear purpose and outcome of the shadow session. For example: “After shadowing CJ, complete a coaching check-in defining 3 different questions you can ask when faced with the objection, ‘I’m not the right person.’”
  2. Facilitate call camps and highlight reels. Reps should have ongoing access to call recordings to keep learning by osmosis and understand the nuances of what successful calls look like. This is especially important in a hybrid or remote role.
  3. Streamline training philosophy. Nothing is worse for a rep if managers aren’t aligned on best practices. When Manager A says to operate one way and Manager B gives the opposite direction, reps get confused and don’t have clear expectations. 
  4. Weekly 1:1s in the ramp phase should involve your standard 1:1 process, plus an entire extra 30 minutes for AMA, allowing the rep to lead the conversation and ask the questions they most need help with. 
  5. Have a knowledge check at the end of every day. During week 1, focus on the basics of the role, process, and big-picture understanding. Weeks 2-4 should focus on practical demonstrations of understanding, such as roleplays, submitting work, reviewing calls, etc. 
  6. People learn how to fight fire the quicker they’re exposed to it. Allow as many real at-bats as early as possible with the understanding that failing can be a good thing—it gives us a baseline and the opportunity to learn and grow! Fail fast, ramp fast. 

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