As you may remember from our breakdown of the sales onboarding process, new sales reps take an average of 381 days to onboard and reach the same performance levels as your current reps. If you're like many fast-growing companies, you need to find a way to cut down that time.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to streamline the ramp-up process for new hires. This blog breaks down a few methods for measuring ramp-up time and provides actionable tips for improving your sales onboarding processes.
3 ways to determine ramp-up time for new sales reps
A new sales rep isn’t going to grab their ID badge, take a quick office tour, and then jump on the phone and immediately close a $250,000 deal. You know that. The sales rep knows that (at least we hope they do). They need time to ramp up to readiness—and you need to give them that time.
However, during the ramp-up period you still need to set expectations. You’re giving your new hires time to onboard and get up to speed, but how long is too long?
Sales thought leaders recommend three different methods for determining an appropriate ramp-up time for new sales reps.
Sales cycle + 90 days
Say your seasoned sales reps usually take four months to close a deal—you’ve tracked the data across a number of sales, and that’s the average within your sales org. You can’t expect new reps to immediately perform at that level. That is, new hires will likely take slightly longer to close their first deal. But how much leeway should you give them?
The standard has been a 90-day buffer for the onboarding and training process. Though 90 days is somewhat standard, you can adjust the buffer according to your org. If, for example, your average sales cycle is only a month long, 90 days might be too much of a buffer. If the average cycle is longer, say six months or more, you should consider extending the buffer.
Sales cycle + training + experience
Similar to the previous formula, this ramp-up time considers the length of your sales cycle and accounts for time spent training and onboarding. With this method, however, you also account for a rep’s experience. Just because a new hire is new to your team does not mean they’re new to sales—they could be a seasoned pro.
As you determine each rep’s ramp-up time, adjust the time allowed for training based on their experience: The more experience a rep has, the smaller their buffer period should be.
Time to reach 100% quota
If your company doesn’t have a standard sales cycle, take the average amount of time it takes for new sales reps to reach 100% of their quota: that’s your ramp-up time. Not all accounts are the same, especially if your company sells a variety of products, and so reps can’t always be expected to hold the same timeline. By using a metric other than the sales cycle, this method accounts for such differences.
Setting the right expectations
Determining an appropriate ramp-up time is all about expectations: When do you expect reps to be entirely up to speed? The focus is on one large goal, which can make it difficult to assess a rep’s performance during the ramp-up period.
To help keep new hires on track, you should set up smaller supporting milestones for different points of the onboarding process (typically 30, 60, and 90 days). Set specific and measurable goals to help sales reps navigate the onboarding process.
Some possible examples include:
- Percentage of quote achieved
- Number of closed deals
- Number and velocity of opportunities
- The level to which the rep follows sales processes
- Time to first meeting, demo, pipeline, or deal
Breaking the ramp-up period into smaller pieces gives both you and your new hires a clearer sense of their performance. The ramp-up period can be long, and reps can easily lose track of their own progress and fall behind. By establishing measurable checkpoints along the way, you provide clear expectations against which reps can compare their performance.
Example schedule for sales onboarding
While your exact onboarding process for new reps should be unique to your sales org, there are general elements of onboarding you should be sure to include. Below, we’ve provided a sample schedule based on a four week onboarding process.
Whether you completely overhaul it or not, this sales onboarding schedule is a great jumping off point as you build out your own onboarding process.
Week 1: Company onboarding and product training
New hires typically spend their first day in company-wide onboarding for an overview of the company’s values and mission. Then there is team-specific onboarding, introductions, etc. Once those initial meetings are out of the way, it’s time for your new rep to get familiar with the product. A deep understanding of your product will help your rep at each stage of the sales cycle—it’s crucial they begin to develop this understanding as soon as possible.
Week 2: Pitch deck training and sales process overview
Once you’re confident in a rep’s familiarity with your product, it’s time to introduce them to your team’s sales process and resources. Have the new hire review your pitch deck and walk them through a typical sale. Towards the end of the week, it may be helpful for new reps to shadow team members’ calls and meetings.
Week 3: Skills development
At this point, new reps should have a good understanding of your sales org’s processes in theory. Now it’s time for them to develop the skills they need to put that knowledge into practice. Have your new reps role play cold calls, generate a list of prospects, and practice voicemail drops until those skills become automatic.
Week 4: Review and practice
Onboarding can be overwhelming: There’s a lot of new information to take in, and you can’t expect your new reps to remember all of it. The final week of onboarding is a great place to allow reps to review and practice the skills they’ve learned. This could mean sitting in on more calls or walking through scripts—it depends on what you and the rep decide is best for them.
Now finish up your sales onboarding process with these tips.