90 days rep ramp time is an oft-cited estimate. But it’s not really fair to set that as an expectation if you haven’t actually done the work to actually estimate rep ramp time. Reps certainly feel this pressure, and surely they want to be fully productive as soon as possible, too. Getting ramp right is key. For a 100-person sales team, it’s completely plausible to lose upwards of $12.5M annually due to downtime and ramping.
Enablement is an important part of minimizing ramp time. However, it is also critical to adequately prepare for minimizing ramp time during as part of your GTM operations. RevOps holds many untapped levers for reducing ramp time. This blog will outline 8 key ways to accelerate sales rep ramp time - from both the operations and enablement perspective.
1. Make sure the rep’s territory is ready so they can hit the ground running.
During planning, over-carve for new reps, so that the patch is ready when they are. When reps are fresh off onboarding they have tons of energy, the worst thing you can do is have them sitting and twiddling their thumbs because their territory isn’t ready. If you are hesitant to carve a territory for a yet-to-be-hired rep, simply overcarve territories during your planning process and then assign “temporary coverage.”
Over carving gives you the ultimate flexibility in your GTM management. If hiring plans are delayed or paused, you still ensure that your accounts are covered. If hiring goes as planned, the “temporary coverage” gives existing reps transparency on accounts that have potential to move. It’s much easier to give up something if you know from the beginning that it won’t be yours forever.
2. Manage account transitions strategically.
In a perfect world, new hires would receive territories that had previously been under “temporary coverage” (see the previous point.) In this scenario, the new rep can be shadowing the rep who is currently working the territory that they will inherit. As part of the transition, you can use holdovers (holdouts) to manage account ownership changes. Further, using a split crediting model can encourage the new and incoming reps to team up and close deals during the transition. This also creates the best possible experience for the customer.
3. Calculate accurate ramp profiles.
As you gather data on Rep performance, take the time to validate your ramp estimate. If your estimate is not accurate to the reality in your company, you are doing yourself and your reps a great disservice by designating it as the ramp period. If your reps actually take 6 or 9 months to become fully productive (which is completely possible if you have a longer sales cycle) make sure the productivity profile reflects this and the crediting and comp plan does, as well. If you have a territory management platform, you should be able to view and update the ramp status of all of your reps with a few clicks.
Even if you don’t have a ton of data, a back-of-the-envelope approach is better than nothing. Take time to consider even your last batch of hires. When did they start? When did their managers determine they were ramped? Given their background and experience when they started, what is a realistic ramp profile? Continue to refine this number as your GTM strategy evolves.
4. Facilitate cross-functional communications.
We all know how silos happen. And yet so many organizations struggle with this. There is vital information that reps discover through their direct contact with prospects and customers. Give them the ability to provide on-going bottoms-up feedback on the accounts in their territory and related targets so they can be proactive in flagging leadership if their territory seems out of whack.
5. Explain the broader GTM strategy.
One of the biggest causes of rep attrition is unfairness - perceived or real. Taking time to brief reps on how they fit into the organization’s broader GTM strategy not only helps them feel more invested in company-wide outcomes, but can also be a first step in preventing disputes down the road. Ensure they understand the balance of their book. (And ensure that they have a good patch!) Seeing their territory for the first time can be anxiety inducing - a huge territory can feel unmanageable, too small of a territory can make reps doubt their ability to meet their quota.
Be sure to walk reps through all of this explicitly - help them understand what data they have access to and provide best practices on prioritizing their time on accounts in their territory. (Also - Hopefully you’ve assigned their quota to their territory rather than them as an individual or are at least prepared to provide quota relief as needed!)
6. Provide balanced and practical onboarding.
All onboarding is not created equal. The key here is that there needs to be a healthy balance between all the key aspects: sales process, product knowledge, sales techniques, customer relationship management (CRM) and other technology tools, and company culture/policies. To make onboarding effective, consider chunking your onboarding into small pieces and ensuring reps have an opportunity to practice using the information that you’re giving them. It’s not fair to throw content at new reps and expect them to magically absorb it all. Carefully curating and refining the onboarding program can also prevent bad attrition.
7. Connect new hires with mentorship and shadowing opportunities.
Both 1-1 and small-group trainings are invaluable for a new employee - particularly if the role is remote. Further remember that mentorship and shadowing are not one and the same. The reps with the best quota attainment are not always the best mentors though they may be excellent for shadowing. Often, the best mentor could be a high-performing recent hire, who still remembers what it’s like to be new in a role. Pairing new reps with mentors ensures they will receive guidance, feedback, and support during their initial weeks or months.
When it comes to shadowing, consider allowing the rep to view a few different reps’ calls and select the rep whose style they feel most matches their own. Selling techniques are highly connected to personality, so your shadowing efforts will be more successful if the rep can imagine themselves doing what they see the experienced rep do. Shadowing allows new hires to learn from strategies, techniques, and best practices.
8. Set clear expectations and goals.
New reps need to understand their sales targets and other KPIs that your organization uses. This will provide them with a sense of purpose and motivation to focus on their priorities and achieve results quickly. Give them an easy way to track their progress on quota attainment and pipeline health. Be careful of the balance between activity and outcome goals. Also, if you have any complex scenarios, such as split credits, help them understand this so that they can maximize the team selling and coordination.
Your GTM plan is always evolving, as market volatility makes doing so absolutely necessary. As such, rep ramp time is directly affected. It is important that the way you onboard reps continues to reflect the realities of conditions in your market and GTM strategy.