In the twenty years I’ve been at this, I’ve found one singular topic that lights me up the fastest:
Rep ramp time.
I wish I could tell you that every client and every event focuses here with me, but the truth is they don’t. I’m a bit of an island on this one, but I think that’s only because we’re not all exactly sure just how much slow ramp is costing us (or could be saving us) – more on that in a second.
According to the most recent research from my friend Trish and her team at The Bridge Group (full report here), the average ramp time for an Inside Sales rep is 4.4 months. Let’s be honest, Trish works with awesome tech companies, and they’ve been doing Inside Sales longer than anyone. If you’re a distribution company, an outsourcer, big box retail, or manufacturing, chances are you average 6 months until Reps start paying for themselves (or “six months ramp”). If your training department is less than 5 years old and/or reports up through HR instead of sales, chances are you’re north of 9 months.
When you are spending 2-3 times the rep’s annual salary to onboard him, every extra week it takes to get him to start paying that back is a big deal. Especially when 1/3 to 1/2 of them will be gone within the year. So which costs more…attrition or ramp? Well this blog is about rep ramp time, so I hope you guessed it. Man I bet you were surprised. But wait till you hear how much more!
We modeled it for a little company called Microsoft.
They were hot about the cost of attrition with some outsourcers, so we ran a model comparing the cost of their industry-average attrition vs. best in class, and then compared that against their industry-average onboarding vs. best-in-class. It’s basically a magic wand question – If you could fix either, which saves you more?
Cutting the ramp time saved nearly DOUBLE than cutting attrition
(BONUS ALERT: help reps make money faster, you’re also going to impact attrition).
The money is in the green seat. The what? The cost of having your customers worked by a rep ramping. The same book or leads worked by a tenured rep produces double or triple that of a green rep. Multiple that by the six months that your rep is green. Ouch. NOW assume that 20-50% of your floor is “green” due to attrition, and we’re talking big dollars.
I don’t know your numbers (email me if you want to plug them into our model). But I’m betting big money that cutting your ramp time in half would be like adding an extra sales team to your numbers.
So, how do we do it? GET TO IT LB, right?
Well, I often like to blame your training team, but ramp time is a function of a lot of different groups: Are you recruiting the right candidates? Is your hiring process designed to identify the attributes that align with your most successful reps? Does your new hire training provide practical experience that mirrors what reps will see when they hit the floor?
Here’s one trick that I think is CRUCIAL to cutting ramp time: Use Call Recordings! But not the way you think. They don’t even have to be those green Reps’ calls; any calls will do. When used right, recorded calls simulate experience. Months and months of it! It’s the reason all Factor 8 sales training uses call recordings and live floor time: simulate real experience.
(Here’s the secret sauce folks)
Simulated experience is crucial because the key isn’t really about WHAT skill to apply. . . it’s about WHEN to apply it.
This is what takes so darn long to collect and thereby ramp.
So infuse it as often as possible using the Pause Game. Check out the video on how to do this:
(I think I filmed this one in my front courtyard, so enjoy the stupid plane overhead that just wouldn’t land!)
Personally, I’m a fan of hands on engagement from Sales leaders here. Have your Supervisors grab a bunch of recorded calls and pull your new hires into a room for a few rounds of The Pause Game. Then sign them up to do it every day during new hire training.
The more real life situations you can expose new reps to, the faster they can build up their bank of experiences. That experience bank is what will get them ramped and producing faster.
Man this was a long one. I’ll work on that. I hope this is helpful!
- Forward this to your lead Manager / Supervisor and tell them to make it happen
- Forward this to your New Hire Training Manager and tell them to make it happen
- Ask both of them to invite you to the first one.
- Email me if you want to plug in your own numbers or learn more ways to reduce your ramp
Here’s to you (and your ramp),