About 2 years ago, I saw a video of a guy doing handstand pushups. Despite having never done a handstand in my entire life, I thought, “I’ll bet I can do that. I’m in good shape. I workout every day. ”
I couldn’t do a single handstand push up.
But what I lack in skill and technique, I make up for in determination (or as my wife calls it – “stubbornness”).
I kept trying until one day, I got a dull ache in my wrist. Naturally, I persisted and it got worse. Soon my wrist hurt all the time.
That’s when I read this article by Ryan Hurst of GMB: How to Fix Sore Wrists: Simple Exercises to Get Your Wrists Feeling Good and Moving Well. In it, Ryan says,
“Before jumping right into a handstand…it’s important to get your body ready … two areas that will take the brunt of the force when you’re upside down are your wrists and your shoulders.…No matter what type of training you’ve been doing …you’ll have to make sure these joints are …ready to handle handstand training.”
I wish I would have read this before I injured my wrist.
Having nothing to lose, I followed Ryan’s advice. After 6 months of doing the daily exercises, my wrist had recovered 100%. Only then was I able to progress to handstands, presses and other acrobatic feats a 49 year man has no business doing.
And today, I have no wrist pain.
It took me 18 months of work following a systematic, progressive plan to get here.
What Could this Possibly Have to Do With Getting a Team Up to Speed and Onboarding New Reps?
Every time I am hired to work with a sales team, one of the first questions asked is,
“How long will it take to get the team up to speed (and/or ramp up new hires?)”
What I am really being asked is,
“When will we have sales that bring in the revenues we need?”
My experience is that it usually takes 3 to 9 months to transform an underperforming sales team or to ramp up a new sales rep to full production. Just like training for handstands, transforming a sales team requires building a solid base by preparing your team to sell.
This includes recruiting the right reps, finding the right manager, and following the Inside Sales Dude processes and systems.
It’s only after having invested this effort that sales start coming. Then over a period of a few weeks or months, the team (or rep) will hit its stride and start delivering the numbers.
In the 2nd and 3rd years, your company will reap the rewards of winning larger accounts, bigger sales and longer term customers.
It takes time and effort.
How Much Time?
Here are some real world examples of how long it took for my teams to ramp up:
One Month to Productivity for SMB BDR Reps. I ran Inside Sales for a fast-paced, SAAS software company that hired Business Development Reps to book demos. We built a high-volume outbound cold calling machine. Here we had reps on the phone booking demos their first day. We did training every morning, during lunch and most evenings. BDRs were expected make 130 dial, book 4 demos a day and close 6 deals a month. By the end of their 1st month, over 75% of our reps were on target.
We had a fully developed system for recruiting, onboarding, training and call management. Our product was $150/month and sold directly to small businesses. We prospected into specific verticals with very targeted messaging and pitches. With all of this in place we were able to ramp our BDRs to full productivity in 1 month.
Three to Six Months for Midmarket Inside Sales Reps. Another team I ran sold an established software product to the midmarket. Our company was in the Fortune 1000 and over 25 years old. We had name recognition, a base of 100,000+ business customers, well funded marketing programs, and a solid reseller channel. Our Inside Sales Reps on this team sold deals ranging from $10K to $75K with a typical sales cycle of 3-12 months.
When I hired new Inside Sales Reps, it still took them more than 3 months before they had built pipeline sufficient to hit their targets. This was so consistent that we gave every rep a 3 month guarantee while he learned the business and started developing his territory.
Nine to Twelve Months for Enterprise Inside Sales Reps. For another company, I was hired to build an Inside Team that would find, develop and qualify opportunities within Enterprise Companies for a niche product. Deals ranged from $150K-$1M. Our product was extremely high performance and fit a narrow segment of the market. Sales cycles ranged from 6 months – 2 years.
With this team, I started with an assessment of the people. It was a small team, but still 2 of the reps were not a good fit for what we needed to do. During the first 3 months, I recruited and replaced these reps while refocusing the team on consistent practices for lead qualification, following up and qualifying opportunities.
The next 3 months, we replaced our systems, onboarded new reps and developed metrics for running the business.
We didn’t significant improvement in pipeline quantity or quality until the 7th month, when we began to set new company records. In our 2nd year, the team hits it stride.
How Long Will It Take You?
I recommend you begin with an honest assessment of your sales team and practices. Here are some questions to consider:
- What is your turnover like? Do you hire and churn through reps hoping a few make it? If you do, chances are you will have a few who are productive, but most of your effort is wasted. Not to mention, this is a terrible way to treat employees or build a solid sales team.
- Do you have comprehensive and effective recruiting, training and onboarding system in place? Most companies do not. Without these in place, you are lengthening the ramp up time for any new hire.
- Does your sales team follow proven sales practices consistently? If not, you can expect higher turnover, lower productivity and longer ramp times.
- Do the systems you use make the sales team more productive? Many CRMs, lead management systems and other tools are despised by Sales because they increase administrative work while decreasing time spent selling. There are great tools out there, but you need to invest time and money investigating which will be best for your team.
Then, just like handstand training you need to start by preparing your team for the basics. You need to put a good manager in place and have him develop the team using 1-on-1s, coaching and perfect forecasting.
Be realistic in your expectations. You can build a great sales team that drives your company to hit its revenue goals. It may even surprise you by capturing opportunities and delivering revenues far beyond your imagination.
But it won’t happen overnight.
If you want to get your first handstand or learn even more advanced skills, check out GMB Fitness.
If you want some help building your sales team or improving sales, contact me here. I’d love to hear from you.
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