Your Sales Team’s Ramp Rate is the Key To Success

sales ramp rate

As a sales leader, you want to on-board new hires quickly so they hit their quotas ASAP. The speed at which you do that is your sales ramp rate. What happens when that rate is poor? It’s a huge drain on resources that can prevent you from hitting annual targets. Conversely, a great sales ramp rate sets you up for success and lets your sales team soar.

New hires present two unavoidable challenges.

For several months after they’re hired, they drain your sales team’s time and deplete your company’s capital.

1. Time: The right new hires are learning machines, bringing tons of questions to the table. And while it’s necessary to invest time and energy into their effective sales onboarding, it eats up resources your sales reps and managers could spend on leads. It can’t go on indefinitely.

2. Money: Those new hires will also take a bite out of your capital. You’ll pour money into their salaries and training for months before they ramp up and put that money back in your coffres (assuming they eventually hit their quotas).

If you don’t manage these two challenges well, it’ll be tough to bring on the hires you need to reach your annual targets. Your sales team will be stretched too thin (burnout ahead!) and you won’t have the cash flow to stay afloat until your new hires pay off.

So how do you align your new hires with your capital to help you achieve annual targets?

Focus on your ramp rate.

You need to find the perfect balance between getting those hires up to speed as quickly as possible and not overloading them.

What’s your sales ramp rate?

Your sales ramp rate is the speed at which new hires onboard and hit their quota. It’s their ramp-up period. There are a few simple ways to calculate it, so pick one that makes sense in your company’s context.

1. Reaching 100% quota

How long does it take your reps to hit 100% of their quota? If you don’t have a standardized sales cycle, this may be a better way to gauge your standing re: a sales ramp rate.

Its drawbacks?

It doesn’t take luck (good or bad) into consideration, and may not reflect your new rep’s abilities. For example, did you give them long-standing accounts to hold onto, or were they asked to bring in new clients from scratch?

2. Sales cycle + 90 days

Add 90 days to the length of your average sales cycle and you’re done. It’s not a precise formula, but it works if you need a quick view of where you stand. If you have more specific numbers, the third option in this list might be your best bet.

3. Training + sales cycle + experience

Add your training time to your average sales cycle, and add or subtract days or weeks based on how much experience your new hire has. Be consistent with the second half of that formula, adding or docking a certain number of days for every year of experience. What’s half a decade worth to you? Be consistent across your reps.

Now that you have a baseline, think about factors that influence your sales ramp period. How are you going to make improvements?

Fix your sales ramp rate

If your sales ramp rate is broken, you need to fix it. It costs your company time and money that it could put toward new hires and increased sales. This is low-hanging fruit. Use these best practices in sales onboarding:

1. Set clear objectives

New hires are particularly keen to please. Let them know exactly what’s expected so they can chase a goal. Be clear about two things: their training objectives and the quotas they’ll have to hit once they’re trained.

The team at ThoughtSpot has a great take on this one. Demos are a huge marker for a new hire, so ThoughtSpot gives new hires 30 days to get demo certified. Sure, the company made that certification up, but it works. New hires don’t often miss the mark because it’s a dramatic and clear deadline that creates a sense of urgency to learn quickly.

What’s the outcome of a clear goal like this?

Reps who have a sense of urgency have a shorter sales ramp period.

2. Provide exceptional training

Once you’ve set clear training and quota targets, follow up with outstanding training. The best thing you can do for new hires is immerse them as deeply as possible, quickly. Don’t let them wander around casually picking up tidbits here and there, hoping they’ll get a sense of your company on the fly. Give new hires tasks that help them achieve clear goals. Here’s how you do that in three steps.

A. Show them what good looks like

New hires want to know what works at your company. They want to know how the top sales reps hit their numbers. Show them what works. Give them everything they need to understand what “good” looks like in your world. Here’s a great suggestion from the VP of Sales Strategy at Intelex.

Create a library of your team’s best call recordings. Include each type of call and situation your new hires need to master:

  • Prospecting calls
  • Discovery calls
  • Demo calls
  • Objection handling
  • ROI discussions
  • Competitive positioning

The day before a new hire has their first discovery call, have them listen to the discovery calls. The day before their first demo, have them listen to the demo calls. You can even automate this process with the help of LevelJump, a just-in-time sales enablement learning platform.

B. Make learning available on demand

Lots of sales leaders think call shadowing comes next. While it’s a good guess, there’s too much time between calls when you’re trying to boost a sales ramp rate (think about live call no-shows, rescheduled calls, etc.).

If you want to create an effective sales onboarding process to accelerate a new hire’s ramp time, let them learn on demand. You don’t need a live Webex for your best rep to put on a show. You can build a call recording library or use conversation intelligence platforms to record the calls you need.

C. Let them demo sooner

Does the prospect of new reps demoing early make you nervous? Are you worried they’ll lose a good lead?

Here’s the truth: A first demo on day 30 will be as bad one on day 10. But the rep who demos on day 10 will ramp to their full quota faster than the rep who demos on day 30.

Hands-on practice is by far the best learning method out there. Don’t keep your reps in the wings or they’ll forget most of what they’ve learned before they ever try it out.

3. Coach. Watch the Numbers. Coach more.

Offer new hires clear instructions, watch their metrics, and coach them on problem areas. Then repeat.

Start with exact instructions that allow your hires to execute processes with clarity. For example, don’t say “Talk about pricing at the right time.” Instead, tell them to talk about pricing when they’re three-quarters of the way into a one-hour call. It’s a specific instruction you can track and coach on.

Ongoing call coaching is the most effective way to run this iterative process. It lets you record calls, review them with your rep, score them, and suggest new approaches.

With this process, you’ll see consistent improvements and keep your sales ramp rate as high as possible.

Get going

New hires are absolutely crucial to hitting your sales targets. With the right sales onboarding, you can shorten your ramp period and hit the perfect sales ramp rate. That’s going to let your sales team function smoothly as new people come on board, so you can hire as many people as possible and hit your sales targets. It’s the best of both worlds.

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Chris is the Senior Director of Product Marketing at Gong.io, the #1 Conversation Intelligence Platform for Sales. To keep tabs on the research and data we release on effective sales conversations, subscribe to our blog.