“How am I doing?”
Most sales reps are genuinely driven not by money, but by success. They are dying to know how they are doing. Regardless of their generation or experience, your reps want to know if they are on the right track to hit their goals. So, how do we do this?
Because this is a huge topic, we are going to focus this blog specifically on ramping your reps. My goal is to provide you with a few ideas and best practices about how to make your onboarding program more focused on results.
Time to First Deal
One of the most common milestones for ramping reps is time to first deal.
Ok, I’m not going to take away the first deal as a milestone to celebrate. Break out the champagne, balloons, and have high fives all around! Celebrate the first deal in whatever way makes sense for the culture of your company. It’s a good milestone to celebrate, but it’s a horrible data point in terms of determining success.
There are too many ways to game the system for the first deal. Too often first deals are either closed by the manager (thanks boss!), the result of a lucky inbound lead (thanks Marketing!) or a primed opportunity (thanks rep who I inherited the territory from!). So, if you aren’t going to use the time to first deal as a milestone, what should you use?
The best way to make sure that your reps hit ramp predictably is to set up multiple milestones that follow them from day one all the way through to full ramp. Let’s look at the steps to create your milestones.
Get Nerdy With It
Before we go into tactics, you have to start by understanding your own unique sales environment. What is your actual ramp time? I don’t mean when we stop paying them a ramped quota plan. How long does it take to make your reps fully productive? How long does it take them to hit their first full quota attainment? Before you use the time to hit their first full quota attainment, check what percentage of them hit their second full quota attainment. If there is a huge drop-off, use the time to second full quarter for the full ramp. Whether your ramp period is 3 months, 6 months, or two years, once you understand your true ramp time, you can plot out strong milestones that go from day one all the way to the end.
Then ask yourself, what do your most productive sales reps do? What does their activity look like? What does their pipeline look like? How much do they know about the product? We tend to make a lot of assumptions about what successful reps do, but we can’t really tell what’s going on until we look at the data.
Overcommunicate and Support
Once you know how long ramp is, and what your successful sales reps are doing all day, it’s time to overcommunicate, train, and support your reps. From day one and through full ramp, your reps should know what milestone they are going for next. (Hint: If your reps don’t know what milestone they should be hitting next, it’s usually due to not communicating enough).
While you overcommunicate, schedule trainings and design sales tools that support how they hit their milestones. For example, if your reps are focused on pipeline development milestones in month two, month two (not week one) is the perfect time to assign them courses on research, effective outreach, and overcoming objections. By assigning trainings when your reps need them the most, you are increasing the likelihood of success. Finally, remember to support your reps.
Do You Want a Truly Predictable Ramp? Make It a Team Event:
If you truly want to make ramp a predictable event, it has to be a party. It doesn’t matter how many salespeople you have, the following people need to be involved in helping them ramp:
Your rep: Your sales rep is ultimately responsible for their own success. They are responsible for being open to being coached, for the work ethic that it takes to get themselves up to speed, and for being passionate about their own success.
Your frontline sales manager: Your frontline manager is responsible for one-on-one coaching for your reps on how to hit their milestones as well as making sure that your reps know what milestones they should be aiming for next.
Sales Ops: Your sales operations team is responsible for monitoring and analyzing the data. Are reps hitting their milestones? Your ops team can help you understand what to worry about, what needs adjustments and also what to celebrate.
Sales Enablement: While your frontline manager focuses on the one-on-one coaching, your sales enablement team will focus on the scalable how to hit their milestones. Sales enablement will provide training, sales tools, and larger picture programs to support success.
Sales Leadership: How important is a predictable ramp for your sales team? Your sales leadership team will set the stage for the importance of predictable ramp.