Best Practices in HR
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Lauren Bailey
  April 21, 2016

Who Cares About Ramp Time? (hint…I do!)

Last week I sent an email about what I’ve learned about ramp time in my 20 years of experience.  The feedback was amazing! Thought I would share…

Over the years, I’ve found one singular topic that lights me up the fastest:  Ramp time!  I wish I could tell you that every client and every event focuses here with me, but the truth is they don’t.  I’m a bit of an island on this one, but I think that’s because we’re not all exactly sure how much slow ramp is costing us (or could be saving us) – more on that in a second.

According to the most recent research from my friend Trish and her team at The Bridge Group, the average ramp time for an Inside Sales rep is 4.4 months.  Let’s be honest, Trish works with awesome tech companies, and they’ve been doing Inside Sales longer than anyone.  If you’re a distribution company, an outsourcer, big box retail, or manufacturing, chances are you average 6 months until Reps start paying for themselves (or “six months ramp”).  If your training department is less than 5 years old and/or reports up through HR instead of sales, chances are you’re north of 9 months.

When you are spending 2-3 times the rep’s annual salary to onboard him, every extra week it takes to get him to start paying that back is a big deal.  So which costs more…attrition or ramp?

We modeled it for a little company called Microsoft.  They were hot about the cost of attrition with some outsourcers, so we ran a model comparing the cost of their industry-average attrition vs. best in class, and then compared that against their industry-average onboarding vs. best-in-class.  It’s basically a magic wand question – If you could fix either, which saves you more?  Cutting the ramp time saved nearly DOUBLE compared to cutting attrition (BONUS ALERT: help reps make money faster, you’re also going to impact attrition).

The money is in the green seat.  The what?  The cost of having your customers worked by a rep that is ramping.  The same book or leads worked by a tenured rep produces double or triple that of a green rep.  Multiple that by the six months that your rep is green and…Ouch.  NOW assume that 20-50% of your floor is “green” due to attrition, and we’re talking big dollars!!!!

So, how do we do it?  GET TO IT LB, right?

Ramp time is a function of a lot of different groups: Are you recruiting the right candidates?  Is your hiring process designed to identify the attributes that align with your most successful reps?  Does your new hire training provide practical experience that mirrors what reps will see when they hit the floor?

Here’s one trick that I think is CRUCIAL to cutting ramp time: Use call recordings! They don’t even have to be those green Reps’ calls; any calls will do.  It’s the reason all Factor 8 sales training uses call recordings and live floor time: simulate real experience.

(Here’s the secret sauce folks):  Simulated experience is crucial because the key isn’t really about WHAT skill to apply. . . it’s about WHEN to apply it.  This is what takes so darn long to collect and thereby ramp.

So infuse it as often as possible using the Pause Game.  Check out the video on how:  (I think I filmed this one in my front courtyard, so enjoy the stupid plane overhead that just wouldn’t land!)


I’m a fan of hands on engagement from Sales leaders here.  Have your Supervisors grab a bunch of recorded calls and pull your new hires into a room for a few rounds of The Pause Game.   Then sign them up to do it every day during new hire training.

Man this was a long one.  I’ll work on that.  I hope this is helpful!

Here’s to you (and your ramp),