How to improve sales rep ramp time is a widely recognised challenge for sales enablement managers and organisations as a whole.
A 2018 study from the Sales Management Association found that 62% of organisations recognise that they are ineffective at onboarding new sales people. Every time you hire a new sales person there is a significant cost attached, so the quicker you can get your new sales people up to full speed and achieving their quotas, the smaller the impact on the sales numbers and the cost to the business.
The State of Sales Readiness Report 2022 from Mindtickle reports that sales reps at winning organisations are fully ramped in four to five months. This, they go on to report, is a 40-50% decrease from the average company ramp time. This begs the question of what these ‘winning organisations’ are doing differently from everybody else.
Here are some tips to accelerate sales rep ramp time:
Ensure your sales people have the tools they need to do the job.
This one sounds so straight-forward and yet the majority of sales people can tell you about a time they started a new sales role and didn’t have a mobile or a laptop, or their CRM password hadn’t been set up. All these seemingly little things have a significant knock-on effect on the ramp up time, as well as creating a negative first experience for your new sales person. Giving them instant access to the CRM, company systems and product/service literature will speed up their ramp up time and show them they are are a valued employee, heightening engagement from the outset.
Give your sales people the training they need to do the job.
Regardless of their level of experience, every new sales person requires training. In addition to training on the products/services they will be selling, it is critical that sales people receive training on the specific sales competencies you expect from them. They need to understand and be confident in following your organisation’s sales processes. This training should not be thought of as a one-off onboarding process, but a continuous learning journey. Training resources should be fully and easily accessible to the sales person, allowing them to refresh or seek clarification at any point.
Give your sales people chance to practice.
This is an area that many organisations forgo and yet is, arguably, one of the most valuable things you can provide for any sales person, new to the team or not. In terms of ramp time, it is one of the biggest accelerators available to organisations.
High performing sales people have typically spent years in sales, practicing and refining their sales techniques and learning from their mistakes along the way. New sales people don’t have that luxury, the majority of their learning being completed ‘on-the-job’. Any ‘mistakes’ have a direct impact on real deals and gaps in capability more often than not become habit. But give those sales people the opportunity to practice sales conversations in a fail-safe environment, where they can receive specific, targeted feedback and even have the chance to re-run conversations post-feedback and you have a very different story. New sales people given the opportunity to practice are not only more skilled in having effective sales conversations but they are significantly more confident too.
Find out about Salestrong’s Sales Conversations Practice sessions here or by giving us a call on 01778 382733.
Provide absolute clarity over expectations.
I don’t just mean letting them know what their targets are. This refers to a whole host of things, both what you expect from them but also what they can expect from you including but not limited to the sales processes they should follow, what levels of support and coaching they can expect to receive and what systems and training are in place to support them. For new sales people (rather ironically here) providing clarity over their expected ramp up time is also critical. A new sales person should never be expected to walk in and just start delivering their sales quota from month one. Instead a clear, staged plan gives the sales person confidence and clarity over what they need to achieve by when.
Ensure you coach your sales people regularly.
Coaching is the most effective tool any sales manager has to heighten the performance of their sales people. There are different types of coaching available to sales managers and a balance of these will bring the best results. The State of Sales Readiness report mentioned above, also found that managers with teams that are consistently exceed quota deliver a blend of coaching types at regular intervals.
Sales managers should coach regularly, using a combination of opportunities coaching, skills coaching and observational (customer visit) coaching in order to achieve the best outcomes. Coaching also provides an excellent platform from which you can provide clarity around expectations, whilst at the same time demonstrating what the sales person can expect from you in terms of support and development.
Make them part of the team.
Sales can be a lonely place, particularly when you’re new to the team. Your sales people need to know they have colleagues, in addition to their manager, that they can turn to for advice and support. Making a new member of any team feel welcome and part of that team should form an essential component of any onboarding programme, but for sales people in particular, who can quickly find themselves working remotely, it is critical. Mentor or ‘buddy-up’ programmes can be effective but getting the team together as a whole, on a regular basis, should be a priority.