In the United States, the average employer spends 52 days and $4,000 to hire a single employee. Additionally, the average ramp time is 90 days. Now add the cost of time spent by executives, managers, and HR staff during the recruiting, hiring, and onboarding process, and the money and time invested can become even greater. Particularly when you hire for a position like a new sales development rep or business development rep, you need them to quickly become a productive member of your team and start producing sales. Most reps are eager to hit the ground running, but before they answer the phone or shoot off their first prospecting email, here are some ways you can prepare to reduce ramp time.
When it comes to accelerating ramp time, it starts with the right hire. You need to find the ideal candidates who are not only skilled, but are also coachable. Additionally, look for candidates that fit well into the culture of your organization. If there are any flags during the hiring process, tread lightly and think about the trickle down effect the wrong hire can have.
One you’ve extended the offer and receive a confirmation — celebrate! Now, it’s time to prepare for the onboarding process. What administrative tasks like email address set up, login credentials to your sales stack, etc. need to be ready? Do you have all the right training materials in one place? Should your new hire meet with specific members of the team 1-on-1 or with other departments? Having most of this planned out and schedule for your rep’s first few weeks will not only help them familiarize themselves with the lay of the land, but make them feel welcomed as a valued team member on the team from day one.
The trial by fire method of onboarding can actually increase ramp time, making a well-planned and structured process important. Every onboarding should include a playbook that contains everything new hires need to do their job effectively, including scripts, industry news and trends, or competitor comparisons.
Trainings should be made up of both instructional sessions and actual exercises focused on specific topics like the company overview, product positioning and requirements, ideal customer profiles, and especially rep activity requirements and quotas to establish clear expectations from the beginning.
After the initial onboarding period, continue development with an ongoing series of one-to-one coaching sessions set on a weekly basis. In each session, address topics like mental toughness, time management, objection handling, and active listening. Also, leave time open for the reps to bring up any issues they are experiencing or questions they have.
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Access to real-world examples help reps solidify their training and serve as a reference in their day-to-day. You should create an easily accessible library of resources that they can reference any time. Within the library, include the best pitches, examples of objection handling, pricing requests, competitor mentions, or anything else they could encounter.
In addition, AI-powered conversation analytics tools give you the ability to coach consistently at scale. Call recordings are transcribed and analyzed to identify key trends, keywords, and sentiments across an entire sales team. Then, they can score the quality of a rep’s conversation based on factors like talking speed, talk-to-listen ratio, or even number of questions asked. This results in the ability for sales managers to focus their coaching efforts on specific components of a sales conversation to help reps become not only more efficient, but more effective.
Instruction is one thing, but one of the best ways to reduce new hire ramp time is to help them slowly become more hands on during the onboarding process. As soon as they understand your product and customers, get them a small group of prospects or even a small territory of their own. You can start with past leads that have gone cold, previous customers that left for good reasons, or start with a city or state and eventually expand their region as they improve. Learning by doing is the best way to pick something up quickly, and it easily defines where new reps excel, and what needs to be improved. During this time, encourage questions and ensure them that anything that happens here does not count against them. This period will also help you identify the strengths and weaknesses in your training process.