One of the most common sales challenges I hear is ramp up time. Even the best sales organizations can experience 10-15% attrition, and if you add some reasonable growth to the picture, like another 10-15%, they can end up with 30% of their sales staff in some stage of ramp up.
The more complex the solution and the longer the sales cycle, the costlier a ramp up challenge can be.
Unfortunately, the knee jerk reaction by most organizations is to pile on more. But drowning your new sales people in product specs, features and benefits can be counterproductive and slow down their ramp up.
While product knowledge is important, insight from CEB and other research firms indicates customers value and trust sales professionals who understand their problems. Moreover, uncovering a problem is the first step in need creation.
A few months ago, I wrote an article about Jack Bartell, who mastered the art of becoming a problem expert, and used it to sell a huge deal within three months of taking a sales role with an organization that sells very complex design solutions to computer manufacturers. If this subject is important to you or your organization, you’ll find his story compelling.
Several years ago, Cisco engaged me help them with their ramp up challenge. They were experiencing nine to twelve months before their reps were hitting quota level revenue production on a monthly basis. We took Jack’s lesson about the problem expert approach to heart – teaching their new sales people about the problems customers have maintaining and managing their network. The result was a dramatic reduction in their ramp up time, shrinking the 9-12 month ramp up cycle down to 3-4 months depending on their vertical territory assignment. That’s a factor of three or four improvement! Imagine how much revenue that accelerated for a company the size of Cisco.
Cracking the code on ramp up and helping reps get productive is one of the most critical issues for high growth companies. Please weigh in and let us know what you’ve seen and learned about the topic.