Getting new sellers up to full speed quickly is critical. Your average sales ramp time provides a look at your training and onboarding effectiveness. Understanding and improving it is critical to accurately forecast, recruit, and plan for capacity needs.
Here is everything you need to know about sales ramp-up time, including how to calculate it, the importance of ramp time in sales capacity planning, and best practices to onboard sales reps successfully.
What Does Ramping Up Mean in Sales?
Ramping up refers to the process of onboarding new sales people including initial product training, sales coaching, and a deep dive into the sales cycle and related processes. Sales ramp-up time is the amount of time it takes a new salesperson to complete training and also to reach full productivity.
HubSpot reports that it takes new reps an average of 3.2 months to fully ramp. So why is this important? Knowing your company’s ramp time will help you hire better. Hiring based on ramp time will help you have new sellers at or near full productivity should you experience unexpected sales turnover.
That also will help you adjust your sales forecasts based on changes in productivity when a tenured rep leaves or a new salesperson is fully ramped.
Calculating Ramp-Up Time
Different businesses calculate sales ramp up in different ways. Factors like industry, growth rate, company size, and training all influence how you define full productivity. Here are three common methods to calculate your average sales ramp time.
1. Ramp by Length of Sales Cycle
Sales Ramp Up Time = Average Length of Sales Cycle + 90 Days
The simplest method of calculating your sales ramp time is by looking closely at the length of your sales cycle. For example, imagine your average deal takes between three and six months to close. This tells you that a starting rep will need at least three months to ramp to full productivity. And if a seller is new to the industry or in a sales role, it might take even longer.
Best Practice: Add Buffer Time to Your Onboarding Process
Give your sales enablement team and new reps buffer time to ramp up to full productivity. Aim for allowing the length of your sales cycle, plus an additional 90-day period. You should also consider time for your company's general onboarding and training processes that every employee goes through.
In our example above, the ramp time would be six months (3-month sales cycle + 90-day buffer = 6-month ramp).
2. Ramp by Time Needed to Achieve Quota
Sales Ramp Time = Average Length of Time to Meet 100% of Quota
The quota attainment method is the most commonly used sales ramp time calculation. It works best for organizations that do not directly sell a product or don’t have an average sales cycle. The quota attainment method provides a general assessment of sales ramp time with the mindset that not all sales reps will start off with the same accounts and territories.
Best Practice: Balance the Earnings Opportunities for Reps
Not all your new sales reps start on equal footing. Some will inherit existing accounts and reach quota faster. At the same time, some reps may consistently hit a high percentage of their quota, but never officially hit 100+ percent.
To compensate for this difference, some companies establish a draw against commission within their sales compensation plan that equals a percentage of expected commissions following training.
3. Ramp by Training and Experience Level
Sales Ramp Time = Training Period + Length of Sales Cycle + Level of Experience
The training and experience level method is simple. Add the average amount of time given for training new sales reps to the average sales cycle length. You should also add in an allotted amount of time to account for any former sales background.
For example, two weeks were added for a new hire with previous, relevant experience. On the other hand, two months would be added for a new rep who has no prior experience.
Best Practice: Adjust Training Based on Experience
Know who you're hiring and customize training to them. This will help ramp more experienced sellers faster and provide adequate time for those with less experience to fully ramp.
Learn more about ramping up sales reps, coaching, and training reps effectively as they gain experience in our guide, "Accelerate Your Sales Performance Management Journey."