Building a great sales team is an ongoing process and investment for any company. But some companies are better than others at getting new hires up to speed and starting to perform at plan.
I fell into sales after realizing I wasn’t any good at my technical consulting job, which meant I had no sales experience and really needed some coaching on the sales process.
Unfortunately, that first job offered little onboarding support, so I learned on the go and probably wasn’t up to speed as fast as they would have liked me to be.
Since then, I’ve learned that it takes most sales departments about 6 to 10 months to get a rep fully trained, but there are ways you can trim this time.
Here are some tips I’ve learned over the years on how to reduce onboarding ramp time for new sales hires:
1. Make Sure You’re Hiring the Right People
Some companies hire solely based on sales experience, but that doesn’t necessarily get you the right salespeople. Instead, hire based on behavioral characteristics, like being a good listener, or someone who initiatives conversation. This approach allows you to hire people with zero experience who can be easily trained to sell. Generally, you’ll find them to be more open to selling your way, to learning new approaches, and should accelerate to quickly fulfill your vision. If you want to reduce ramp time, make sure you are putting your training energy into the ideal candidates.
2. Focus on the Sales Process
Instead of focusing on your product 90% of the time during training, make sure your new hires understand the sales process and how to qualify leads, etc. What is your company’s typical sales cycle? What is different about the way your team approaches sales that may be new or unusual? Cover the basics of sales, no matter how basic it may seem to you. An outsider coming into your company needs to know how your sales process works so they can get onto the same page as the rest of the team as fast as possible.
3. Set Clearly Defined and Measurable Goals
Have your KPIs clearly defined and explained to them in terms they can relate to. Don’t use too much internal company lingo, just speak to the goals. And then have dashboards and reports that the sales rep and managers can both view to see how they are doing. If a new salesperson knows right off the bat what to focus on, they will be performing at plan much faster than one whose goals are vague and outcomes not measurable.
4. Give Them the Tools to be Successful
Use a CRM that is easy to use and one that anyone can learn fast. This not only helps reduce the time they spend struggling with a new software, but it also means less time spent on data entry and more time spent on selling. Use a system (like Spiro’s AI-powered, self-writing CRM or sales tracking software) that does the data entry for reps and recommends what deals to work on next. This makes the sales team more efficient and productive by allowing reps to connect with more customers at a faster pace. Your new hires will be ramped up to speed more quickly without having to waste time on learning tedious data entry protocol.
5. Be Prepared to Put in the Time
Allows reps to review some of their more experienced peers’ call recordings. Hearing a seasoned professional on the phone, delivering a pitch can help them feel comfortable and learn the ins and outs of your product’s benefits. Also use these recordings to share best practices from star sales reps at your company. A mentoring relationship goes along way, so ask fellow salespeople to give some of their time to help get teammates up to speed.