Sales leaders today are facing a challenge: not only are the right sales hires notoriously difficult to find, but it can also take up to a year to ramp them up. Which makes it difficult to keep growing sales in the quick-paced reality we live in, and underlines the importance of finding ways to reduce ramp up time.
When you need a new sales hire, you probably need them yesterday. Which makes it a bit worrying that it’s taking longer and longer to fill sales roles and that ramping up new sales hires can be an extremely dragged-out process. Hubspot has, for example, stated that it can take a whopping 6 to 9 months to ramp up new salespeople, while Rain Group has shown how it usually takes 3 months before a new sales representative is even ready to interact with buyers. This, while the average time for a sales rep to become “competent to perform” is 9 months, and it takes them 15 months to become a “top performer”.
These figures are honestly pretty scary, and show a need to find new sales reps faster, and reduce their ramp up time. Not only because an empty role, or a sales rep that is ramping up and not yet delivering his quota, can be a costly affair, but because it can hurt your chances to succeed or even survive. Especially if your success hinges on your organization starting to sell at this very minute, or if you’re riding on a recent upswing and the sales momentum you’ve already got going.
Ramp up sales reps faster
There are, in other words, a bunch of good reasons to find ways to reduce ramp up time and get your sales reps up and running as fast as possible. Why we’ve gathered a bunch of steps that we hope can help you on this quest.
These steps are outlined below, and divided in what we call Foundational and Advanced levels. Where the latter can be excellent ways to really boost the ramp-up time for sales reps in your organization, once the basic level has been covered.
1. Standardize the initial onboarding – and make it a learning opportunity
When a new sales rep first joins your organization, a pre-set onboarding journey should be triggered. This should be a standardized process, starting with the initial onboarding when you set up their accounts and devices, plan meetings with the team and give them a proper introduction of your company. The whole journey (and not just the initial part) should be outlined from the start, so that new sales reps will know what to expect, while the resources they need should be easily available. Preferably in a digital space where they can always get to them.
This way, the initial onboarding can be started in an instance, and the new sales rep will have an easier time to get through this part of the process quicker and more efficiently.
If you want to take it one step further, you can look at Sales Enablement solutions that allow you to create a best practice template for how your onboarding process should look for sales hires – and that preferably allow the whole process to be virtual (which provides a ton of other benefits we’ll talk more about later). SP_CE, for example, gives you a chance to set up this kind of template; a blueprint for how the sales onboarding should look. Where all the relevant resources and material can be pre-prepped and gathered in one place, and where onboarding processes can be tweaked to fit the new hire’s experience and situation. Which can further speed things up, and ensure the process is standardized but also fits the person going through it.
2. Run Sales & Product training that mimics the live sales environment
The new sales hire will need to understand both the product or service they’ll sell, as well as how they will go about selling it. In other words they will need to get a good feel for (1) what your service or product is about, with key features and unique value points, and (2) your sales process and strategy.
When it comes to latter, they will first need to understand and then learn to act within that strategy and process. Which means that they should hold practice sales meetings with the same agenda and structure that they will later on apply to live customer meetings, and tag along on sales calls and meetings. This becomes especially beneficial, if they’re paired up with a super-seller that can show them the ropes and act as a sort of coach during their initial period.
Chorus suggests that you ” use the same tools you use for client onboarding to introduce your new sales hires to your product”. I.e. if you have a sales enablement solution for selling to and onboarding customers, that same solution and process can be used to train your new sales rep. With some tweaks, of course, as your customers may need more thorough training than your sales rep.
If you can also make use of the sales tools the new sales rep will use when they’re all onboarded and start to sell, this can make it even more efficient. After all, if your new sales rep goes through their practice runs with the same tools they will use when, for example, meeting customers and driving the sales journey forward, they will get comfortable with those tools quicker. On top of which they may also have an easier time becoming capable of selling your product or service. I.e. it can shorten the time it takes before they’re ready to interact with customers, as well as the time to become “competent to perform”, as Rain Group put it.
3. Coach new sales reps to reduce ramp up time
It’s no secret that coaching and feedback can have some great results, and it’s important that a new sales rep is not only coached until their ramp-up period is seen as complete – or until they’ve started interacting with customers. In other words, it’s not just during training/onboarding that the new hire should be coached, and instead this practice should go on until they’ve become a “top performer”. At what point they can help coach others.
This way, the new sales rep will have an easier time delivering value faster, as they have a chance to get a little bit better every day. Through personal coaching and continuous feedback.
Add a sales enablement solution that allows the sales rep to record their practice sessions – and even their first live sales calls if these occur remotely and with video. This will make coaching so much easier, and the sales rep can get tips on how to improve, for example, how they go about pitching to a customer, or how they go through the presentation material they have. Tips that will be much more exact and relevant, as the coach or manager can see and show exactly what parts need to be improved.
As you’ve probably noticed, there is a particular factor that ties these steps together. Namely that they should occur in a virtual setting – in some shape or form – or at the very least utilize digital tools to make the process standardized and more efficient.
This is not a coincidence: A large part of sales has now moved online, to the virtual space where sellers now interact with customers synchronously and asynchronously. Which means that sales reps will use a bunch of digital tools that they can beneficially get used to as soon as they start their onboarding. On top of that, it is also so much easier to scale a digital sales onboarding – not to mention that it makes you less dependent on location. I.e. it could make it easier for you to find and recruit new sales hires from different places, as they could go through the onboarding and ramp-up period without needing to be in the same city as you are. Something that can help make it easier to quicker fill your sales positions – making it even easier to shorten the time it takes for your sales reps to start delivering value. Which may mean that you need to build a virtual sales team, and that is the topic for another article of ours.
Rain Sales Group
Peak Sales Recruiting
SP_CE can help you reduce ramp-up time for sales reps, and make it easier for them to exceed their quota. Contact us for a demo and meet one of our Remote Sales Experts, who can show you how and help you on your journey into the digital space. You can also find more resources and sales tips in our Remote Sales Hub.