The average ramp-up time for salespeople is between six and nine months. That’s a lot of lost revenue for your company. So how do you maximize the investment you’re making in sales new hires? Below is a guide to accelerated ramp-up time for your salespeople (along with some examples of how HubSpot trains their salespeople).
It takes time. It might feel like you’re over-communicating. But the payoff is salespeople who understand your business, your customer, and your sales methodology -- a wicked combination that leads to bigger returns, faster.
With average rep tenure sitting at 1.5 years, onboarding and training new salespeople has never been more crucial for hiring managers. Pre-week training, orientation, product training, sales methodology training, and post-training are key to successful reps.
Onboarding is one of the most critical stages of new hire training for salespeople. The more effective the onboarding, the faster your new hires begin making an impact to the organization. Here is a checklist for how to do it right:
Before They Start
The start of a new job is exciting and can also lead to nervousness from uncertainty. As they prepare for their first day, a little context can go a long way.
If you want them to come in confident and prepared to maximize their first day, you may even consider pre-week training. This gives your sales reps more information on their roles and what they’ll learn during training. New sales hires at HubSpot experience “a day in the life” of a HubSpot sales rep before their official first day. From technical setup to call observation and activity shadowing, new reps get an up-close look at the end goal of their training period.
A recent Sales Benchmark Index survey of almost 800 new hires revealed that more than two-thirds were disappointed by their first day. The main complaint was that managers were too busy to give new hires the support and guidance they needed.
Email and Administrative Preparation
To combat this, make sure your new rep’s email account is accessible before the first day. This allows you to send them new hire and HR information ahead of time, as well as an agenda for day one. That way, even if your day is packed, your new hire will know where to go and who to meet.
Free Sales Training Template
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Use the first day to teach new hires the broad strokes of the company. Take care of HR documentation, set them up with a computer, and introduce them to the company at a high level. At HubSpot, these are just a few of the things our new hires experience on their first day. They also have lunch with a veteran HubSpotter to learn more about the company and ask questions of someone who’s been around a while.
You'll also want to introduce them to their 30-60-90 day plan that outlines expectations as they ramp up.
First 30 Days
Your sales reps' first month is all about learning: your company, your customers, your solutions, your internal organization and processes, and their role within it all. Getting them acquainted with these things may include:
Product or Service Training
What will your rep be selling? Whether it’s pool supplies or software, it’s important to train them on how to administer, use, and see the value of your product or service.
HubSpot’s sales new hires go through extensive product and Inbound Marketing training. They learn how to use HubSpot’s CRM, Marketing, and Sales tools. The hands-on trainings have them building landing pages, setting up contacts, and presenting “final projects” at the end of their training cycle. The project serves as a benchmark for new hires. Reps get to show off their understanding of HubSpot tools, and managers get to gauge new hire progress.
Gaining Understanding of the Market
A successful sale often comes down to BANT: Budget, Authority, Need, and Timing. While determining budget and handling general price objections can be pretty straight-forward for an experienced rep, the other three components require familiarity (and perhaps intimacy) with both the buyer and the market:
Authority - To establish authority with the prospect, the rep must understand your position in the market: your strengths and weaknesses as well as those of your competitors.
Need - The rep must also develop competency in mapping those strengths and weaknesses to prospect pain points in order to qualify for (and prove) fit.
Timing - Gauging the prospect's timing, knowing customer and sales lifecycles, and developing a nurturing and follow-up process that works with those lifecycles are crucial for getting timing just right.
All of these takes experience and training.
First 60 Days
Once the sales rep has completed their "information gathering" period, it's time to give them hands-on experience to improve their comfort level and get them into process development and routine.
An effective way to get their feet wet is by pairing the rep with one of your seasoned team members so they can gain insight in live time. Have the new employee listen to calls, asking questions about workflow, and get a sense for the strategy.
Prospecting and Introductions
The rep should also be given a chance to introduce themselves to points of contact for accounts they are inheriting and/or do some initial prospecting and outreach to begin filling their pipeline.
Be sure to meet with the reps early and often to provide feedback, encourage good habits, and reinforce performance milestones and goals.
First 90 Days
After 60 days, the rep should be comfortable and autonomous enough to apply their training and start making an impact as their pipeline opens up. Managers should be ensuring that new reps have everything they need to:
Establish a schedule that's aggressive but works for them
Meet with prospects and develop relationships
Navigate the process, hit KPIs, and crush goals
How to Train Salespeople
Train them on how to use your CRM
Conduct call reviews
Provide a sales process overview
Train reps on how your company handles prospecting
Walk through your buyer personas
Provide a competitive analysis
Have strong reps provide demo training
Hold technical training
Practice negotiating and common object handling
Offer onboarding training when applicable
Encourage necessary certifications
Create vertical-, role- or territory-specific trainings
Offer leadership/management training
1. Train them on how to use your CRM
Teach your reps how to use your CRM, and include hands-on, project-based training (like how to enter new contacts, set reminders, and log communication). When appropriate, have them take a CRM certification exam. Most CRMs offer them, and it’s a great way to ensure that new reps understand how to use this important software. You can find HubSpot’s free certification courses here.
2. Conduct call reviews
Sign up new hires for call reviews -- and lots of ‘em. It’s good for them to listen to reviews from your top reps and a few from reps who haven’t been part of the team that long. This allows new hires to learn from a variety of experience levels and gives them access to different types of critique.
3. Provide a sales process overview
Cover the main stages of the sales process and conversion rate benchmarks (i.e., on average, 10% of emails convert to connect calls, 20% of connect calls convert to discover calls, etc.) This tells your new reps where to prioritize efforts and what kind of numbers they’ll be held to.
4. Train reps on how your company handles prospecting
How does your company prospect? Share common channels, number of touchpoints, and best practices. Outline how much research reps should conduct and which details they should look for.
5. Walk through your buyer personas
In this section of training, describe your ideal customer. If you’re a B2B company, teach your salespeople what a best-fit company looks like and which contacts they should be trying to make at that company. If you’re B2C, describe the types of consumers reps should be targeting. You should also lay out the foundation for how your organization assesses and communicates with decision makers.
6. Provide a competitive analysis
Provide an overview of your main competitors. Then share a competitive analysis that highlights exactly what makes you different. Be honest about where your product/service falls short of the competition and where it outperforms the rest of the market.
7. Have strong reps provide demo training
Incorporate good and bad examples into demo training and have everyone participate in role play. Conduct reviews of new hire demos, connect calls, and close conversations. Include common objections that arise during your sales process. And let new hires respond to those objections before supplying them with ready-made scripts.
A good rule of thumb: Provide positive feedback first, then move to areas for improvement. Foster this rule in your sales organization to create a team that embraces constructive criticism instead of being afraid or resentful of it.
8. Hold technical training
Learning to use team or company technology (i.e., phones, video platforms, etc.) can be a tough and undocumented process. Train new hires on how to use your technology resources, and have them showcase their skills during a demo with you. When they can troubleshoot basic issues -- like asking prospects to mute their microphones if an echo arises during a presentation -- they’re one step closer to being ready for a live call.
9. Practice negotiating and common object handling
Even experienced reps need to know how your company approaches the negotiation phase. What are your parameters for discounts and sales? What kind of judgement calls can your reps make regarding discounts? And what is the etiquette for discussing these topics with prospects?
10. Offer onboarding training when applicable
Will your reps be in charge of onboarding new clients? Share best practices and responsibilities that accompany this role. If there’s a hand off to a renewal manager or customer experience rep, make sure both parties understand what that process is as well.
11. Encourage necessary certifications
At the end of their sales training, hold a certification exam. Have your reps role play an exploratory call, demo, negotiation, and closing call. This allows you to gauge whether a rep is ready to start representing your company in front of prospective clients.
By the end of training, HubSpot reps are both inbound sales and inbound marketing certified. They’re also certified in giving HubSpot Demos. Certain passing scores must be met and managers are notified if further training is necessary.
12. Create vertical-, role- or territory-specific trainings
Make sure each new hire receives relevant supplementary training for role-specific duties. If you’re onboarding a BDR, provide further training on how to qualify prospects by asking the right questions. And train your reps on specific verticals or territories they’ll be targeting (i.e., when prospecting in the pacific northwest, phone calls convert at a higher rate than emails.)
13. Offer leadership/management training
Everyone should move through basic sales training to understand the goals, values, and customers your sales organization prioritizes. But if you’re bringing in a manager or executive, further training may be required to set them up for success.
Set clear expectations & goals
Set 30-, 60-, and 90-day goals. Calculate ramp rate based on the average number of months it takes a new salesperson to hit 100% (or close to) of quota. To make this more accurate, segment average ramp period by experience -- for example, it might take the typical veteran salesperson four months to ramp, while a freshly-minted college grad requires nine months.
Establish a new-hire mentor
Assign every new salesperson a mentor who’s senior to them. Mentees can bounce questions, comments, and new hire growing pains off their mentors. Mentorship provides new hires with perspective, guidance, and advice from someone outside their management team.
At HubSpot, every new hire is paired with a mentor. Beyond the first few weeks, mentors can offer career advice, make important networking connections, and save salespeople from burnout. Pair new hires with mentors, and you’ll set them up for a longer, happier career with your company.
Ramp up for salespeople is tough. But if you do it right, you’ll see huge ROI on the time and efforts you invest in new hires early on. Don’t skimp here, and you’ll enjoy the benefits of talent retention, high morale, and overall quality.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in August 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published Jul 9, 2020 12:45:00 PM, updated March 10 2021