Oct 132011

Ramp Time: Dave Kurlan’s Formula for Sales New Hire Ramp Time

Ramp Time: By Leah Rust , Via Landslide CRM

I recently sat down with Dave Kurlan, leading expert and speaker on sales management, hiring and assessment for a quick chat about what sales managers should expect from new hires.

Dave is the founder and CEO of Objective Management Group, the leading developer of sales assessment tools, headquartered in Westborough, Massachusetts. He is also the CEO of David Kurlan & Associates, a sales force development firm.

Here’s a recap of our talk.

Leah: Dave, I’d like to talk today about recruiting strong salespeople. Often sales managers write to sales consultants seeking advice with questions like “I’m tired of hiring salespeople who take too long to achieve just mediocre results and then fail “ or “I’m tired of putting time, effort, and training into the salespeople and getting nothing noteworthy out of the people that I am hiring.” Can you give sales managers some tips for hiring strong sales people?

Dave: I think in starting off, before I can say, “First do this, then do this”, expectations are important. The most important expectation is how do you know whether or not a salesperson is succeeding or failing when you are ramping them up? A company really needs to understand its baseline for ramp up time. And I have a formula for that:

Ramp up time = The length of your sales cycle + The length of your learning curve + 30 days.

For example: If you have a 6 month sales cycle and a 3 month learning curve, you have a 10 month ramp up period.

Additionally, there are three more factors that further determine what your ramp up time should be:
1.    If your new salesperson has been in sales for less than 5 years, you can add two more months
2.    If the new salesperson has been in your industry for less than 2 years, you can add two more months
3.    If the, and this is specific to our assessments, the finding of compatibility is less than 75%, then you can add another three months

So, on top of the initial baseline there could be another seven months before a salesperson can ramp up, and what is important about that is executives can get impatient when a salesperson isn’t performing. But if that ramp up time hasn’t gone by yet, it’s not appropriate to get frustrated or impatient.

On the other hand, there are others who are way too patient and they will let a salesperson go on struggling far beyond what the ramp up time should be. Once you know what ramp up time should be, then you can have some very real expectations for how long it should take, and the salesperson should be on board with those same expectations.

Leah: You just outlined what sales managers can expect from salespeople when they actually have hired them. But before that step, what strategies should a sales manager be aware of to ensure that they are hiring the right person?

Dave: Then in terms of finding the right salespeople, you have to go out and do a good job identifying what you need from a salesperson in the first place Most companies fail at this.

The sales managers will write job descriptions, but traditional job descriptions don’t help us identify who the sales manager needs to hire, instead they just describe the job. So examples of you need to hire would be:

•    If you are in a very competitive business then you need to hire someone who has already had success selling against a number of competitors.
•    If you are hire priced then the competition, then you need to hire someone who has already had success selling hirer prices products.
•    If you need to call high up in the company, then you need you hire someone who has already had success calling on c-level executives

You really need to identify what the challenges of the job are, not necessarily just the description of the job. Then you need find people that have already had that kind of success. This thinking allows you to write a different type of job ad from other companies, and allows you to attract the write candidates.

The ad might say something like: You must have had prior success in selling high ticket conceptual business services to c-level executives in medium to large size companies in a highly competitive environment where you were the underdog.

When you get these highly competitive candidates into the pool, then you need to use a highly accurate and predictive sales specific assessment to identify whether these people have the ability to sell, and specifically sell your product or service in your company. And the assessment needs to be able to weed out the people that don’t have the abilities you need.

Then have a quick phone conversation with these people just to see if you would actually like to have these people representing you company.

Finally, bring the people that have scored the highest through this whole process in for interviews.

These steps will go a long way in helping you to build a strong sales team.



To Discuss how these Solutions will add value for you, your organization and/or your clients, Affinity/Resale Opportunities, and/or Collaborative Efforts, Please Contact:

Tom McDonald, tsm@centurytel.net; 608-788-5144; Skype: tsmw5752

ramp time, McDonald Sales and Marketing, LLC