When bringing new sales reps into an organization, one of the most valuable investments you can make as a sales leader is ensuring those new hires are set up for success. First we have to understand what success looks like. How many deals do your fully-ramped Account Executives (AEs) need to close each month in order to hit quota? How much pipeline do they need to carry? How many meetings should they have each week? You need to have a clear set of expectations for your fully-ramped reps in order to determine what goals should be set for new hires as they ramp.
Steps to Onboarding and Ramping Your Sales Team
- Determine what success looks like.
- Set clear milestones for your new sales reps.
- Develop data-driven one-on-ones to measure progress.
Set Ramping Goals
If you know what success for a tenured rep looks like, you can work backwards to determine when leading indicators need to be reached. For example, if you expect a new AE to reach full productivity four months from their start date, and you have a 60-day average sales cycle time, then that AE will be best set up for success if they are carrying a full pipeline within two months of their start date. This ramping goal ensures they have the length of a full sales cycle to close that pipeline and attain their full quota.
Don’t stop there, though. When you think about building that pipeline, if you know that it takes, on average, two weeks for an initial meeting to convert to an opportunity with a pipeline amount, then those same new AEs should be carrying a full load of meetings within six weeks of their start date.
We can apply this same logic to new Sales Development Representatives (SDRs). These new hires should hit call and email goals as soon as they complete their training, while conversion rates on those activities should increase as they ramp. For example, if you know, on average, how many activities it takes to create an opportunity for your tenured SDRs, then you can set expectations around their activity levels starting from the first week they’re working while giving them time to increase the effectiveness of those activities over the duration of their ramp. If you expect them to hit a sales accepted lead or sales qualified opportunity goal in their second month, then you should likely also have a clear path for them to hit fully-ramped meeting creation targets during their third week.
Communicate Goals & Track Progress
The reason to take this kind of approach to setting clear ramp goals (by week in many cases, and by month even in those organizations with long enterprise sales cycles) is you’ll be able to clearly explain to your new reps why they’re asked to hit certain milestones as they ramp and how hitting those milestones will set them up for success in consistently attaining quota.
Tracking progress against ramping metrics in weekly one-on-ones will also help to surface any issues quickly so you can immediately address concerns together. New hires will have the opportunity to receive coaching throughout their ramp in a manner that will make them successful over the long term. Importantly, this is one of the best investments you can make in your staff. Recruiting takes a great deal of time and resources! A strong ramping plan will set employees up for success, which in turn will maximize their engagement and retention.
Iterate Through Sales Maturity
If you don’t have the metrics to do this readily at hand, (maybe you’re with an early stage company, wherein the founder has been doing all of the initial selling) you can still use the information that’s available to you to set initial guideposts and see how well those stack up to reality as you onboard cohorts of reps.
You may find that, in an early stage company without a dedicated sales enablement function, your initial expectations of ramp are too aggressive given the level of training you’re able to provide, and you need to adjust your plan to account for early hires taking longer to ramp. However, that time to productivity should shrink as you become more practiced as an organization at integrating and teaching your new team members.
For organizations who have already ramped multiple reps, you may be able to set up a more sophisticated ramp plan that uses the data you have on how individuals who’ve previously ramped. How long did it take prior classes of mid-market AEs to build pipeline? How long did it take your last ten enterprise SDR hires to set your target number of meetings per week consistently? Comparing a new hire to the average of their peers in an apples-to-apples way (adjusting for tenure) can provide another data point in understanding what a successful ramp looks like in your organization.