🎙️ Transcript: How to Reduce Ramp Time

🎙️ Transcript: How to Reduce Ramp Time

How to Reduce Ramp Time and Boost Revenue
Sell Better by JB Sales
Nikki Ivey, Ellis Stone, Ralph Barsi
January 19, 2023

Nikki Ivey (00:00):
Welcome to "How to Reduce Ramp and Boost Revenue." I am Nikki Ivey, Director of Sales Training here at Sell Better by JB Sales. I've got with me today Ellis Stone, who is a dynamic BDR leader and he inspires his teams to hold themselves accountable. And I've actually had a rep of his tell me I would run through a brick wall for Ellis. So, that's what we've got here. He's currently mentoring and coaching reps in Sales For the Culture. That is an all black sales community that Ellis and I are founding members of.

We also have the illustrious Ralph Barsi, who leads global inside sales at Tray.io. That's his official title, but I'm going to go ahead and tell y'all he's also a drummer, so I didn't want to bury that lead.

Ralph Barsi (01:00):
Thank you Nikki.

Nikki Ivey (01:03):
And we're going to get into it. We're going to talk about some what "ramp" really is, because for some folks, "are you ready to have a conversation?" Others, it's "are you ready to produce quota?" We're going to talk about some of the pitfalls that some folks end up experiencing when we're trying to get that right and some things that you can think about and maybe even use to help nail it, so that your teams are up to speed and developing helpfully.

Before we get started, I would like to thank our sponsors, ZoomInfo, for making this possible, bringing these folks together to be able to elevate the profession.

Alright, so like I mentioned, as far as what we're talking about today, what is ramp? I know folks define it in many different ways. I'll start with you Ralph. Why are we talking about this today?

Ralph Barsi (02:03):
Well, ramping and onboarding and essentially getting a sales organization a fly in information is absolutely critical. There's a number of reasons that we may bring up today. There's a number of reasons you might ask about today, and when I say you, I mean the audience, that center on making sure that people are on message, making sure that people are empathetic when they're speaking with the marketplace, making sure that people are representing themselves and their companies and their teams with first class, or illustrating first class levels, and world-class levels.

It goes on and on. So why we need to talk about this stuff and why we need to pin webinars like this on people's calendars is because it's not talked about enough and too much slips through the cracks. And unfortunately in this crazy, hasty that we live in, especially in the SaaS world, people aren't paying attention to what matters most and that is partnering up with prospects, partners, customers, and serving them.

Instead, a lot of people are focused on themselves and focused on the Dell use of information that's coming across the wire. So we're going to take this moment to pause, find our center, and talk about how we can effectively ramp the next generations of field reps.

Nikki Ivey (03:27):
Thank you, Ralph. I like that you brought it into the context of the next generations of reps, kind of where I come to this problem from as well. And it's this idea, and you and I were talking about it earlier, Ellis, and I'll come to you in a moment.

It's this idea that if we get this wrong, that is, if we hurry people through ramp and ask them to produce before they're ready and then consequently have them find their way out of the organization because they could not produce in such a short timeframe career at that point that we've impacted.

That's someone's confidence that we've impacted so many things at stake. In addition to the bottom line implications. Ellis, what's been some of your experience with that as far as from the manager's perspective, what do reps experience relative to having a ramp time that is or is not long enough?

Ellis Stone (04:23):
So, you can generally tell after the first few months if they were ramped correctly. So, in my experience, the proper ramp time is around 90 days. I've seen some companies try to do 30 days, but the reason why it's important is because if a rep is not ramped properly, they're going to struggle throughout their career and ultimately end up being coached out of the organization.

People that are ramped correctly, they go into the job with confidence, with ability, with knowhow, and I think a proper ramp schedule will allow them to succeed down the line and also allow them to dig themselves out of a hole when they're struggling throughout the quarter.

So, I think that's why we're talking about ramping right now because it's something that companies are struggling with and something that's not talked about enough.

Nikki Ivey (05:11):
Absolutely. And so we've sort of talked about that one aspect of it, when it comes to the reps and that's again, I feel like we should center that. Ralph, you also mentioned that centering how well-ramped reps impact customers impact a buyer's journey, and I think that's really important as well. Ralph, you've had a lot of experience with this across a go-to-market team. What are some of the other areas of the business that are impacted by how fast or how well reps are ramped?

Ralph Barsi (05:51):
Oh wow, big one. Big question, Nikki. It's a good one, too. So a lot of my expertise and experience over the last decade plus has really centered on sales development. So, the operations and the mechanics that are happening in the top of the funnel have been where I've been living for the last 10, 12 years.

And, let's just use the sales development rep, or SDR/BDR persona, as an example. If an SDR is not trained properly, let alone an SDR team, in that first 90 to 120 days of their career at a company - and we put them on the front line to a) qualify inbound leads, or b) go outbound and prospect into our highest value target accounts and they are not representing the company, the message, the brand themselves, well, et cetera, et cetera - the systemic impact is really, really harmful.

For example, if that business is selling into enterprise-size accounts and you have an untrained SDR contacting a high-level executive within one of those high-value targets, and kind of blows the whole pitch, doesn't build rapport and credibility, doesn't represent well that business that the SDR represents risks not being able to talk to that company now for years, because that impression is now embedded in the C-Suite's mind and memory, and it doesn't bode well for anybody representing that brand.

And you got to kind of start from behind the eight ball and climb very high uphill to kind of build back that credibility, rapport, trust in order to earn the first, second, third meeting, and ultimately a partnership. So, that's just one example from the SDR world. It's systemic across many business functions as you can imagine.

Nikki Ivey (07:47):
Yeah, we used to call that - this idea of an unprepared rep going in and having a conversation with the customer that then never wants to speak to us again - we call that scorched earth. And you're right, it is really difficult, really difficult to overcome. Now we have been talking again about how this problem touches the rep experience. Ellis, you mentioned earlier how this impacts morale and culture. Talk a little bit about what you've seen as far as that goes with respect.

Ellis Stone (08:26):
So it affects, like Phil said, our relationships externally, but it also affects the team internally. So, a unprepared rep slows down everyone. So if I have a unprepared rep, instead of also coaching my team as a whole and making sure they're doing what they need to be doing and checking statistics and matrix, I'm focusing on making sure that this rep is doing what they need to do.

So, that takes away time from everyone else on my team and then everyone else starts falling behind. So not only does it affect my team and then it also affects the AE because now the AE is getting bad meetings, and the AE is getting frustrated, and the AE can't do its job, and the SDR is not writing things right in Salesforce. So it literally slows down the whole operations from SDR to sales ops to account executives.

So not only does it mess up our external relationships, but morale starts to really get low because this one rep just can't do their job right. And because they can't do their job, I can't do my job as a leader because I'm focusing all my time on this rep and the AE can't do their job, right? The SDR is just sending anything and not qualifying this. So everyone's morale gets low. So this is why it's really important to make sure that by time an SDR is on the phones, they're super prepared to do the job correctly.

Nikki Ivey (09:45):
Yeah, I think it's interesting that you bring the level of experience of the rep before they join the organization into the conversation because I think it is incredibly important to factor that in, because if you are measuring how quickly a new ramp will hit a number against the same amount of time that it would take a person with more experience to hit that number, it's going to be really difficult to accurately forecast around that.

I do want to stop and acknowledge what's happening over here in the chat. I've see some folks from Boston, NYC, London, all the big major places, got some city folk up in here today. But what do you all think about this idea that people leave when they are losing, right?

You who are here, I believe there's a bunch of leaders who are in this group, and so a lot of what we've mentioned and gone over as far as the importance of this, you likely already know. So what I'm curious about is because we all sort of have engaged with what happens when ramp goes wrong, why are we still seeing this problem, right?

Ellis, you and I talked about having experienced ourselves firsthand and witnessed folks with a 30-day ramp time, I can't imagine, unless it's like a super one-call close, transactional sale, but why do people rush it when we're aware of what that problems that can cause down the line?

Ellis Stone (11:29):
So from my experience, there's a couple of different reasons. One: they're getting pressure from investors to show results. So they want to get people on the phone as fast as possible, trying to get meetings in the pipeline to make their numbers better.

Others just have that environment that is like they don't care if you fail, you either pick up quick or you're out, right? There's no long-term plan for reps just like you either hit these numbers or you're gone.

And the other one: a lot of companies just don't know any better. Like Ralph said, it's not really covered a lot, right? You don't see a lot of discussion about this. So a lot of companies out there just trying to figure out, figure it out.

But one thing I do see is they don't learn from their data. So they do a 30-day ramp and it's continuing not to work and they stick with it instead of developing it to a 60 to 90 day. So it's kind of being stuck in their ways and not being able to adapt. But I think it's just pressure to get numbers from arresters and outside forces that force companies or push companies to that shorter ramp time.

Nikki Ivey (12:33):
I'll come to you real quick, Ralph, and see if you want to say anything. I can see you over there looking at your notes and whatnot. But then I have a question and we're going to do a fun little poll for the attendees here, but what do you think about this? Why are we having such a difficult time with this?

Ralph Barsi (12:51):
Yeah, I'm just listening to Ellis and jotting down notes. I think for the leaders on this call, you're either talking about two things: you're talking about the macro, you're zooming out, you're thinking about things like collective mindset, vision, expectations, standards of excellence, strategy, career arcs; and then, of course, the second piece is the micro. You're in the weeds. You're thinking about who owns this, what are the tactics? Are we going to certify these reps? And what are the milestones going to be? What's the operations and the mechanics behind these different cohorts that we're training?

So, just make sure if you're thinking and acting in the macro or thinking and acting in the micro, that's number one. Two, as leaders, our job is not to pursue top talent. Our job is to attract top talent, and we attract top talent by being attractive leaders, working for attractive teams and attractive companies because we serve our prospects, our partners, and our marketplace in general, our customers.

So, focus on attracting, not pursuing, which means in the recruiting phase, you need to be managing expectations of your candidates about what the average ramp time has been over the last 12 to 18 to 24 months, what the characteristics of A-players looks like, what the obstacles are that people seem to run into in those for first 30, 60, 90 days, and how they mitigate risk from running into those obstacles.

So, you've got to be very transparent about it and talk about the systems that our A-players today put in place.

It's one thing to have a goal, it's another thing to have the process and the system to get to the goal. So be very transparent about that. And then I'd say lastly, not everything's going to go right. It's not always going to be a 30-60-90 day ramp period. It might even be six months even longer depending on the sales cycle and the sales price and the market and all that jazz.

So make sure that you and the candidate, or candidates, are talking about contingency plans - what levers you're going to pull in an emergency if all things are going to disaster and people aren't ramping up or closing business or there's threat to what Ellis said of losing your job altogether, make sure that you already had those discussions from the outset, as to what levers to pull in those times of darkness.

And before you know it, everybody's going to be heading north together. So yeah, you're right, Nikki. People don't want to lose. They want to win. So just show them how to win.

Nikki Ivey (15:30):
I would like a T-shirt that says, "Show them how to win!" - Ralph Barsi. We're doing that. Print it. Cut it. I think I do. I think you're right, Ellis, shout out to you for keeping it a buck. Talking about the pressure from investors, that does often factor in to the amount of time that people give a rep to ramp.

And then Ralph, you underscored as well this trial and error, but I want to come to the attendees and I want to ask you first, this is the first poll of this webinar. We're going to have a second one, but first I'd like to just understand what you all consider ramp.

Is it when a rep, the amount of time that it takes for a rep to be able to have a sales conversation? Are we talking about the amount of time it takes for a rep to be able to hit quota or is it something else? So we're going to bring this poll up and then just curious just to level set, right, what are we exactly talking about here today, Ellis? What does ramp mean when you talk about ramping a rep?

Ellis Stone (16:39):
When I talk about ramping a ramp is someone that's willing, I mean ready to hit quota, someone that is on the level that they consistently hit quota or come close to quota. We all know that things happen, but that's when I know someone's, someone's ramped. When I have all confidence in my mind that this person is ready to hit quota until then, they're not fully ramped in my eyes.

Nikki Ivey (17:08):
What do you think, Ralph? Is it a hard revenue? Okay, they've hit their quota, or are we talking about have they reached a certain confidence level? Are they able to to have a sales conversation according to a framework that they've been taught consistently? What do you think?

Ralph Barsi (17:29):
It's all of the above, Nikki. I mean, you can't win if you don't keep score. So you've got to have metrics and milestones that are very clear to the team that's onboarding as to what great looks like, how soon the business expects all of us to reach these goals and these milestones.

And then there's a bit of the woo woo stuff. You need a team or a rep that has decided to be a big success at this company. Until they make that decision, it's going to be a big struggle. But if they decide that they don't see any obstacles, and yeah, there's going to be a couple mini failures along the way, but they keep that long-term vision in play and in sight, I mean, sky's the limit. Everybody's going to win.

Ellis Stone (18:15):
So I think what you said was more profound than you think: have milestones. And the reason why I say that because I've worked for companies that their idea of ramp or what it means to be ramped or what stages was kind of left up in the air right there.

By month one, you should be able to do this. By month two, you should be able to do this and everything in between.

And I think that is super important, especially for new reps and people that haven't been SDRs before, to have that roadmap kind of mapped out for them so they know where they're at at all the time. Because if you go into this training, this ramping with kind of a willy-nilly attitude, reps seem to get lost.

So that's really important. Have a plan, have it mapped out, written down for the rep to come in and know what they have to do and follow that plan.

Ralph Barsi (19:04):
Thousand percent Ellis, you've got to have a plan in place. You've got to set things in order before there is confusion. It reminds me of a great book by Mike Watkins. It's called The First 90 Days.

In the First 90 Days, Mike talks about what he calls the breakeven point, and most new employees in an organization are consumers of value, very normal, very natural. All of us have been there. Well, we have to consume value. We have to figure out what the talk track is, what works, what doesn't, who's who, all of that we're consuming.

But as soon as we become contributors of value, ie, we have booked that first meeting. We have advanced an opportunity past stage two or three in the pipeline. We've brought something to closure.

We've informed the revenue generation process, however you want to measure it. Once you hit that milestone that we're talking about, you are now a contributor of value and you have hit that breakeven point.

That's when the business starts to see a return on its investment. That's when the win-win starts to be created, and that's when you start to feel the momentum that's being built between the two parties.

Nikki Ivey (20:16):
I love it. That breakeven point is really important. I actually was fortunate early in my career and I had a manager just keep it real with me. He told me, this is what we're doing, right?

The point of this is to get you to that breakeven point, but we've been talking about being intentional about this, right? Making sure that there is a standard and there actually is, right? There's a formula that many folks use to try and understand what their ramp time should be. And that formula is 90 days plus the length of a sales cycle, right? Ellis and I consulted together.

And in that experience, you might be shocked at how many folks just hadn't thought about what it means to reconcile those numbers, right? Those two things together, that is the length of the sales cycle and how long we're giving someone to ramp, because there are absolutely reps out there who are subject to an expectation to ramp in a given timeframe, and that timeframe is shorter than the sales cycle.

So they're in this position where it's incredibly difficult to fully understand and develop the way they need to because they haven't seen a single sale from start to finish, come to fruition. What have you seen as far as that's concerned? Ellis, I'll come to you.

Ellis Stone (21:47):
Oh, no, absolutely. I feel like if companies start to exit people in a shorter time than a sales cycle, then they do in their organization disservice and the person disservice because how can a rep know what complete looks like if they're not here to see it, if that makes sense?

I think that has to be baked into the training, into the ramp schedule of each rep. I think companies have to show patience, and I know that there's a drive to hit numbers and hit revenue, but what I've learned is if you invest in your employees now, they pay for it later, right? They'll go to work for you and put in that work for you and hit those numbers. But I think a lot of companies don't give those reps a chance.

Some of my best reps are people that upper management have told me to cut loose earlier, but I stuck with them. I stuck with them, I trained them, showed that I cared and they became superstars. So I think companies, even though there is external pressures have to be patient. Let that full sales cycle go through. Let the rep see how a complete sales looks like, let the rep make mistakes. And I think if they do that, it's going to be a little slow up front, but they'll have more superstars in their ranks.

Nikki Ivey (23:02):
For sure. There's been talk in the chat on a guaranteed commission, right? They've been talking about how compensation feeds into this, right? This idea. And when we think about guaranteed commission, I think that that is a way to show that you care during someone's ramp, period.

It's an opportunity for folks to feel like they can learn and practice and maybe fail a little bit, maybe break some stuff without it having to mean that they're without access to any kind of variable comp for however long that is. Because I can tell you having been in roles where I was ramping and there was no guaranteed quota, that's the thing that caused me no guaranteed commission that caused me to hurry my own ramp, right?

It caused me to become frustrated with myself because why am I not getting this quick enough? I have to so that I can get to the money. So again, there's just another area to think about. Thank you for, I'm sorry I missed the name of the folks that were bringing that up in the chat. Ralph, what do you think about this?

Ralph Barsi (24:08):
Yeah, I'm with you. A couple things. One: I love the formula you gave. I've not heard that before. It makes sense. I think that number 90 is going to vary depending on the organization, et cetera, but I really like that formula.

Second: with respect to draws in commission, I like the fact that when businesses are willing to put skin in the game and give that rep the benefit of the doubt to go ahead and ramp and get to where they need to. And that implies also that there's a ramping quota.

So for SDRs, maybe that first three months, it goes from zero sales qualified opportunities to then five to then eight, depending on again, the variables of the organization. But that is a great way, I think very healthy way for the business to forge a great partnership and establish some trust and vice versa with the rep.

But it's a two-way street. You got to make sure, to Ellis's point, that you're patient. Both parties need to be patient with getting acquainted with what's going on and how we're going to go from X to Y.

And I think, again, for the leaders on this call, it's absolutely critical that when that first meeting is booked or that first milestone is met, you got to recognize your new hire. You got to make sure that not only they know that you're aware, but you start spreading the word that, "Hey, Nikki did it! She's only been here six weeks and she's already on the boards. Let's give her a hand. Let's help her out. Let's help her pick up the pace and build this momentum. But she's already hit A, B, or C milestone," and that's super, super important.

Nikki Ivey (25:42):
Go ahead Ellis,

Ellis Stone (25:44):
And bring it back to the guaranteed commission. I love the idea of guaranteed commission. That's how I did it with my last company. But I understand why some companies might have an issue with that. But the other way I've done it, so I've done it both ways, is guaranteed commission, but then I also link that guaranteed commission to them hitting certain milestones.

So get a certain score on a mock call, update Salesforce correctly this amount of times, send these type of emails, whatever. So you see that they are making progression in their progression is tied to compensation. So for those first 90 days, the rep's not just sitting there, I'm going to get paid regardless. No, you have to hit these milestones in order to get that commission. So it's not, no, you're not booking a meeting, but you're moving along the line to making that happen, and this is why you're getting the commission.

So if companies out there don't want to just hand out commission for anything, make it tied to hitting those milestones within those first 30, 60, 90 days.

Ralph Barsi (26:39):
Real quick, great points, Ellis, Nikki, one other thing that I think we need to keep in mind. For the most part, the leaders are also compensated on these reps hitting. So everybody's got skin in the game when it comes to that, especially when it's included in the leader's comp.

Nikki Ivey (26:58):
Yeah, definitely. So we've got a question in the chat here. David Christensen says, "what are some of the milestones that you would suggest within the first 90 days?"

Ellis, you just gave us a few of them that have to do with understanding how well they're able to use the tech stack perhaps. I love, I'm a huge fan of giving folks the opportunity to get involved in social, right? So on the company's social page, give folks the opportunity to write little blurbs and just try their hand at these things to be contributing, as you mentioned Ellis, but without it being always tied to did they sell something?

You mentioned in our pre-call, Ralph, that you've done this, right? You've put these sort of benchmark milestone programs into place with some success. Go ahead and regale the folks with what those have looked like for you.

Ralph Barsi (27:51):
Sure. And I'll address what I can of David's question. That was a great question, David.

So one example that comes to mind is when I worked at ServiceNow, I worked with incredible enablement professionals and they had framed up a ramp camp for our SDRs that was all about space, meaning you're about to take off, you're on the rocket ship, and so all the vernacular and terminology centered on the first phase of ramp camp, you're on the launchpad.

And then the second phase, which could be X number of weeks or months later, you're at liftoff, and then after liftoff, you're at orbit and you're continuing to train and keep your chops polished.

And I thought that was super effective.

Some milestones. To get back to David's question, I just jotted a few down off the top of the lid here. One could be they set that first meeting or they engaged a high value target account, or maybe they emailed internal stakeholders a weekly update on Friday about how the week went and what's on tap for the following week.

Perhaps at a certain period of time or after a certain period of time, they're able to articulate and recite five different use cases. They could talk about what the problem was before your company parachuted in secured the business, and then all the goodness that happened as a result of doing business with your team.

There's a lot of ways you can slice and dice what those milestones could look like, but it all goes back to what matters to the business, what's informing those key performance indicators, et cetera.

The answers are right there. You just have to really pause for a minute and think through what's most important to us and what's realistic and reasonable.

Nikki Ivey (29:43):
Thank you. No, that's great. I am a fan of you now and of this...

Ralph Barsi (29:50):
The feeling's mutual, Nikki. Thanks.

Nikki Ivey (29:52):
And of this little graduated milestone benchmark philosophy, Jackie Dolezal has asked, how do you make some of those milestones about emotional intelligence, right? That's a million dollar question.

I'll quickly say what that experience has been like for me and then I'll throw it back to you, Ralph and Ellis. One of my favorite experiences with respect to trying to measure that emotional intelligence and ran was the milestone, was you at a place where you can give a short clinic on a given aspect of either the sales process, the sales cycle, or in this case, I would say for the emotional intelligence piece, empathy with the buyer.

Can you give a quick clinic on that within this 90 day timeframe to your peers in your ramp cohort and help them understand that? Because if I can explain it now, then I've likely got enough understanding to be able to apply it in a real time live situation. I see you nodding, Ralph.

Ralph Barsi (31:07):
Yeah, what a great question, Jackie. I love this question. And unfortunately, as we all know, it's overlooked. It's just not a major priority and it needs to be more of one.

So just again, look, you can see my notes, well, you probably can't because I've blurred the camera, but a couple that come to mind is EQ, or emotional intelligence, milestones that you can consider are one, perhaps that rep can resuscitate a dormant lead or opportunity. "Hey, Nikki, understood you were talking to our business six months ago, timing was off. I'm calling to introduce myself. I'm learning so much about you and about your business and about why we were talking in the first place. Would love an opportunity to pick up where we left off."

That's an example. Another example would be recognize others. You're a new hire. You're in that first 90 days. You're consuming value.

There's a ton of different stakeholders in your new company that are actually taking time and effort to help you get up to speed and to help get you acquainted and to help get you producing. Make sure you're recognizing them in front of their peers about the good work they're doing and the patience and time and energy they're giving you.

A third one is, let's say you do engage a prospect or a customer. Maybe it's an expansion play. How good are your questions? Are you asking yes-no questions, or are you asking open-ended questions to really provoke and prompt dialogue from them?

And then lastly, how's your attitude of gratitude? Are you sending people thank you cards that are handwritten? Are you sending them a gift? Are you sending them just an email saying, "Hey, thank you so much for taking my call. I'm one week into the business. I'm trying to figure things out. You were so kind. Thank you so much. Looking forward to connecting the dots later down the line, et cetera."

Those are some key examples where you're starting to measure the EQ stuff - the soft skills.

Nikki Ivey (33:08):
Really great stuff. I love how thoughtful you're...and Jackie loves it too. Jackie said, "this is incredibly helpful." Great question, Jackie.

Nikki Ivey (33:15):
Ellis, what do you think about this?

Ellis Stone (33:18):
Ralph answered it pretty well, but one thing that I used to do is in mock calls, I would measure it. So I would have a test that I fill out on my end when I'm doing a mock call. And part of what was emotional intelligence, I would act like a really difficult prospect. They would have to show empathy. They would have to connect with me. They would have to overcome those objections in a way that is empathetic to what I'm saying, not just trying to steamroll me.

And that would kind of show me that, hey, when they're on the phone with these people, they'll be able to handle that. And if you're going to do that, make the mock calls extremely difficult, right? Don't, don't be soft with them. I like to be even harder on my reps than they would experience on the phone because I've heard time and time again, once I got on the phone, it was a piece of cake because if they can get past me and it's important with that test, they would have to pass that test three times with me in order to even go onto the next level.

So have some standards in that. But a mock call can show you a lot if you do it correctly.

Nikki Ivey (34:18):
I love a mock call. I practice. Practice, practice is where I'm always coming from, and you all heard it. I let y'all know that Ellis is about holding people accountable. Now y'all hear, and he's like, make them do it three times.

But I love this idea. I want to double tap on the mock call. I think we can add a layer of this to get even closer to that emotional intelligence measure than Jackie is talking about. And that is about having them have mock discovery calls with internal stakeholders that are of the same persona as your ICP, right? So now we're measuring both the emotional intelligence in general and the emotional intelligence relative to your ideal buyers.

I've seen where folks are shadowing, right? Other reps so that they can try and understand the customer. I've seen where folks are of course, listening to calls to that same end, but I have had very little experience where I sell to CROs, let me as part of ramp, let me have a conversation with the CRO and just learn as much as I can.

Learn, no pressure. You're not trying to see if the CRO would book a meeting with you, right? You're not trying to do that. Just how much can I learn about this person? What kinds of questions am I asking? And then taking a look at that and comparing them across the team.

Maybe identifying some gaps in places where folks maybe could stand to have a better understanding of the buyer to set folks up for success in an even bigger way. I'm taking a look at how we're doing for time. I do want to go to, I want to make sure that this is for you all.

So I want to make sure that if there are questions that you have that we have not answered yet, please do go ahead and answer them in the meantime. I see Ralph, he is chomping at the bit with his microphone. He has something to say.

Ralph Barsi (36:20):
Sorry. Is it that bad? It's that bad, isn't it?

Nikki Ivey (36:23):
I'm the same way.

Ralph Barsi (36:24):
Hey, couple things on that question about mock calls. Love it. I think it's really important to do things like that. Really tough to scale though.

Your C-Suite does not have the bandwidth to sit down with the new hire cohorts and "let's talk through what I'm thinking."

However, they can record a video. There are recorded calls. There's a centralized repository hopefully with folders and files of what great sounds like and looks like. There are specific questions that the reps could be knowing to ask.

Our friend, John Barrows, for example, will find out at the beginning of a new fiscal year, what are all the top trends or top problems that CIOs in this space are dealing with this year? What's top of mind for them? What are they trying to overcome? Study. Study their craft, study their world.

Think about what they're thinking about, talk about what they're talking about, and take swings at the plate - to Ellis's point. Do 3, 4, 5 practice calls that way. You're ready for the big leagues when it's time.

Ellis Stone (37:32):
So one way that I think you can scale that though is if you're going to have mock call tests, like I described, if one of the personas is the CRO, have the CRO have their inputs in that, what would they like to see? What would they like to hear? Questions that they would ask? What's important to them?

So essentially it is like the CRO doing the mock call without having to constantly do the mock call. They're too busy. So get that input from the stakeholders within your company to help develop that mock call script.

Because what tends to happen is there's not a lot of cross-department collaboration on these things. Sales is kind of in their own little silo in the corner. But if you get the input of the people that you're actually targeting at other companies within your s's like, "Hey, you think these are good questions?

Is this what you would want to hear? Is these the questions that you would actually care about?" And then bring that to the mock call.

I think that would be really, really, really, really helpful. And to Nikki's point, my best mock call experience ever as a rep was I was working for a SaaS company. They made us pitch our developers, they made us pitch the people that were actually building the app, and they were the hardest people to get by.

We couldn't get on the phone until we got their head nod, and it took forever. But like you were saying, it's really hard to scale. So if you have that input with those tests, I think that will go really far.

Nikki Ivey (38:55):
That's a really great idea. I want to see if we can do one last poll before we wrap up here. And I'm just going to ask it plain, right? You've heard us having these conversations about how long ramps should be.

I've given a formula that might be helpful here, and we talked about all the factors that go into it. So coming into this conversation, what on average for your ICP, I'm sorry for your business, is a reasonable ramp time? Are we talking 30 days? Is that ridiculous? I'm talking 60, 90, or is it something else?

You can put that in the chat or you can answer it as the poll comes up. I do want to also remind you all that we do these all the time daily. They are free, and they are for you. We've got one coming up tomorrow on how to make any cold email personalized and relevant.

That is tomorrow at Noon Eastern. Let's see what we have here. Don't have any answers or questions in the chat as far as have we come to a consensus on how long ramp time should be, but we did talk, in the promotion for this, about game planning in addition to milestones, ways that we can speed up ramp or make it more effective.

And the big picture way that we can do that is not feeling like we have to do it on our own. A lot of the time when we're talking about a startup, a SaaS startup, we're not talking about a team that has even a sales enablement group to be able to help with this.

And we know Annel, as you know, more than many of us, that sales frontline managers are at a bit of a squeeze anyway when it comes to having time to train and then coach and then consistently reinforce.

So if asked, one of the answers that I would give or levers that you can pull is don't be afraid to look at external help when it comes to training and when it comes to coaching to be able to carry some of that load. Ralph, what do you think on this?

Ralph Barsi (41:13):
Yeah, be resourceful. You're a leader for a reason. So regardless of how big or small your organization is, one skill and competency you bring to the table in your role is you're resourceful.

So by all means, leverage help through webinar recordings like this, through great podcasts, through great books, through great software applications and platforms. All of it is out there to help bolster your team. But just keep this in mind.

A great quote from a late economist, named Edwards Deming, is "every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets."

So if you're bummed out and disappointed and frustrated in the results you're seeing or not seeing line, check your system, go one step, then the next next, and find out where the kink in the chain is, make those adjustments. It's typically not the entire system that needs to be overhauled, but it's just a part of the system. But find where that part or those parts are, and you're off and running.

Nikki Ivey (42:15):
Love it.

Ellis Stone (42:16):
Yeah, no, no, Nikki, you're absolutely right. And like Ralph said, you got to be resourceful. And as a manager, it's your job to source those, that material for them if needed. And one of the things that helped me too, as being a manager in a small company was I try to make rep as simple, but as impactful as possible.

So I think what a lot of companies do is they feel like their reps need to know every single thing possible in the first 30, 60, 90 days, they try to drill it in their head, right? And what happens is the reps get overwhelmed, and by the time they get in the phone, they forget it all.

So I think what's more important is getting their foundations correct, how to make a cold call, how to overcome objections, how to do discovery, how to prospect, how to use a CRM, get those things down packed. Then if they know a high level overview of what you do, what problem you solve, they're fine. Then allow them to make mistakes. I think companies are so afraid to have their reps make mistakes that they try to make them perfect.

One tip, what I did was I had a 90 day sales cadence that they had to follow, right? So it was very little thinking, but they had to have the foundation down pat.

Nikki Ivey (43:31):
Ellis, because you are on a roll. You're on a roll. We all have two minutes left. I have one little nugget before I let you all out of here. As far as something that helped me, Jackie, ask, I'm answering your question here. How do we help reps feel more supported and excited?

On the excited piece, the leader in my organization, my very first SaaS sales job, the leader who wrote the script that we were reading recorded himself delivering rebuttals to the common objections. He recorded himself delivering key pieces of that script, and I just had it in my ears all the time, and it helped with tone and cadence, which is something that a lot of the time folks don't have time to master within the allotted ramp times.

Thank you all for joining us. Ralph, you're a star. Ellis, you're every bit of the man I described you as when we started this. Thank you all. You'll get access to you guys the recording after this, and I hope you'll join us for the next webinar.

Ralph Barsi (44:33):
Thanks, Nikki. Thanks Ellis. Thanks, everybody, for being here with us today. Really appreciate it.

Ellis Stone (44:39):
Thank you guys.