Leveraging Data and Tools to Accelerate Ramp Time
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Nearly half of companies determine sales onboarding success through rep ramp time. This means that for sales enablement professionals, who are often responsible for rep onboarding, optimizing ramp time is important both to set reps up for success from the start and simultaneously prove that the onboarding process is an effective and worthwhile investment.
Over the past year, however, 48% of respondents in a recent report have seen their average ramp time increase, meaning that many organizations are struggling to ramp reps effectively and efficiently. A slow ramp can have significant long-term implications, leading to bottlenecks in the sales process and underperformance against core objectives if left unchecked. By tracking and prioritizing ramp time as a key performance metric from the onset of an onboarding program, enablement can help drive the strategy to accelerate time to ramp in a sustainable way.
“How can we do things faster than maybe we would have envisioned before?” said Jeff Scannella, senior manager of sales productivity and enablement at FullStory. “How do we take that ramp time of maybe two to three months and shrink that down to a month? We need precision and understanding that we still have to provide our team members with a deliberate process and a vision to get there.”
Below, learn how enablement professionals can leverage data and tools to identify obstacles to ramp time, determine a strategy to overcome those obstacles and execute with efficiency.
Identifying Causes of Slow Ramp Time
Slow ramp times can be impacted by a number of factors. For example, the transition to virtual onboarding, the pervasive challenges of burnout and isolation, and the difficulty that can come with driving tool adoption and proficiency for new hires all can influence reps in different ways. This means that the degrees to which they play a role in how quickly a given rep will meet their ramp objectives can vary significantly.
To identify where to begin, it’s important for enablement to dig into data of past and current onboarding classes, including performance outcomes, manager observations, and feedback from reps on the program. This can help uncover trends in how reps are feeling, their ability to meet the goals set for them, and how their performance on paper may be perceived by others in action.
“To optimize ramp time, we structure our onboarding programs to identify the first step in a new hire’s role and get them to start doing that as soon as possible,” Amanda Romeo, manager of revenue training at DailyPay. “My team is currently going through extensive curriculum health assessments to identify areas of opportunity for our onboarding program so that we can help our new hires ramp quickly.”
Leverage the Tech Stack to Improve Ramp Time
As part of this process, consider how the tools in the enablement tech stack can be utilized to gather and report data as well as be combined with observable outcomes to elevate deeper insights.
For example, conversational intelligence tools can help sales enablement professionals see how behaviors and messages honed in onboarding are showing up in the field, including how buyers are responding and what is top of mind for them. Analyzing this information in tandem with performance data, onboarding participation, or feedback can help practitioners accurately identify the root causes of gaps in ramp time across reps, as well as what might be influencing high performance. These types of tools are shown to improve proficiency and sales success in organizations, as teams report an increase in customer retention by nine percentage points and net-new deals by four percentage points.
Additionally, coaching tools can help practitioners monitor the factors leading to behavior change and performance improvement while reps are ramping. For example, this can help enablement breakdown performance by a manager to understand how coaching might be influencing ramp, as well as how well reps are retaining and acting on the core competencies instilled in onboarding.
Coaching is a critical factor in reinforcing onboarding and building upon skills with practice and feedback. By utilizing technology to better understand the effectiveness of coaching in meeting these objectives, enablement can help improve the quality of coaching to accelerate time to ramp.
“Consider not only sharing feedback on areas of improvement, but workshop in real-time with your participant how they might improve in the future, such as how they might rephrase questions, pose additional follow-ups, and more to reinforce the skills that are being coached on,” said Reneé Osgood, head of customer success enablement at Ceros.
Tracking Key Milestones to Reach Ramp Goals
While many organizations have different definitions of what it means for a rep to be fully ramped, tracking major milestones like quota attainment can provide sales enablement professionals with actionable data that displays if reps are performing at expected levels.
In fact, recent research found that tracking time to quota attainment has a significant impact on business performance, with those who track it reporting a three-percentage-point increase in win rates and a six percentage point increase in quota attainment. These same companies are 60% more likely to report a decrease in rep ramp time in the last year.
Other milestones, like time to first or second deal for a rep, can be tracked alongside one another to paint a holistic picture of rep performance and reveal critical factors that might be influencing ramp time. For example, if reps are struggling to meet a key milestone, it could indicate that more focus on a particular competency is needed in onboarding. If that milestone is being used to judge ramp progress, it could reveal that the milestone might need to be adjusted to more accurately assess how reps are performing.
By tracking these key milestones, sales enablement professionals can continuously monitor the factors influencing ramp to better pinpoint and refine areas for improvement.
“When we went back and talked to the sales team, what they really wanted us to measure was how we could pull in their time to sales by a month,” said Rhett Livengood, director of digital sales enabling at Intel. “That was the key metric, so by tweaking the metric and our focus, we were able to get more resources, more scope, and get pulled out into newer groups.”
With a strategy to extract and analyze insights on rep proficiency, sales enablement professionals can gather critical information to better understand what impacts ramp time. Armed with these insights, practitioners can tweak and optimize programs to help reps reach proficiency and begin performing faster.
“The shorter that we can essentially drive their ramp, the quicker they’re going to be generating revenue,” said Hillary Anderson, sales enablement leader. “It’s important to find out what they have to do during their ramp because that’s going to allow them to really start driving towards their goals quickly.”