Sales Ramp

What is Sales Ramp?

Sales ramp is the period it takes for a new sales representative to reach full productivity from the time they are hired. It’s a measure of how quickly new hires reach autonomy and begin contributing to the company’s revenue goals.

Typically, companies measure sales ramp time using three primary methods:

  • Based on on sales cycle length — This method considers the average time it takes for a seasoned sales rep to complete a sales cycle and adds a buffer period. For instance, if the average sales cycle is three months, the ramp-up time might be set to six months to allow for training and adaptation​.
  • Training and experience level — This approach adjusts the ramp-up period based on the new rep’s prior experience and the training time required. A new graduate might need more time compared to an experienced salesperson who is familiar with the industry and product​​.
  • Sales quota attainment — This method measures how long it takes for new sales reps to meet their sales quotas fully, and calls that the ramp time. It’s often used when the sales process varies widely across different products or customer profiles​.

Knowing your average sales ramp time helps with strategic planning for sales capacity. If you have a long sales ramp, you need to start hiring sales reps earlier to avoid gaps in team productivity. You’ll also have to set more of your budget aside for training new hires.

It also makes financial forecasting more accurate. With a clear understanding of the ramp time, you can more accurately predict when new reps will start contributing to revenue and, based on that, estimate the amount of revenue each new rep will bring.

Synonyms

  • Ramp period
  • Sales ramp rate
  • Sales ramp-up time
  • Sales rep onboarding
  • Sales rep ramp

Why Calculate Sales Ramp Rate?

Your sales ramp rate tells you how long it takes for a rep to become fully productive and start generating revenue. It’s one of the most important sales metrics for several reasons:

  • Optimizing sales capacity for new hires
  • Setting realistic expectations and evaluating the performance of new sales reps
  • Allocating resources to support new reps during the ramp-up period
  • Planning for future growth and budgeting accurately based on the ramp time
  • Identifying areas in the onboarding process that need improvement to reduce the ramp period and increase productivity
  • Benchmarking against industry standards to measure the efficiency of your sales onboarding process and overall sales performance

You should calculate sales ramp time both on a per-employee basis (to understand team member performance) and as an average of everyone at your company (to make conclusive decisions about onboarding efficiency and effectiveness)​.

How to Determine Sales Ramp-Up Time

Figuring out your optimal sales ramp-up time is relatively straightforward. Let’s look at the factors you should consider and how to calculate your ramp time.

Factors Influencing Sales Ramp Time

Several factors influence the sales ramp time, including:

  • Average sales cycle length
  • Product complexity
  • Quality of onboarding and training programs
  • Experience level of the new sales rep
  • Competitiveness of the market
  • Territory and customer base familiarity

In general, longer sales cycles, higher degrees of product complexity, and less experienced sales reps lead to longer ramp times. If you’re operating in a niche market where territory and customer base familiarity is inherently low, you’ll also have to invest more resources into a longer ramp period.

Calculating Sales Ramp Rate

To calculate sales ramp rate, you’ll need to know the individual metrics that contribute to it. These include:

  • Sales cycle length — Add a buffer period to the average sales cycle length.
  • Quota attainment time — Measure the time it takes for new reps to achieve 100% of their revenue targets.
  • Training and experience level — Adjust the ramp time based on the new hire’s experience and the length of the training period.

Once you have these metrics, get the average by adding them together for all your reps and dividing by the number of new reps to get your average sales ramp time.

How to Improve Sales Ramp Rate

It goes without saying that shorter sales ramp-up periods are ideal (though, as mentioned, new reps might require more time in certain circumstances). Relative to your current sales ramp time, if you can improve it by increasing onboarding efficiency, you’ll have more reps contributing to revenue in a shorter time frame. Rapid onboarding increases sales growth rates by 10%.

Here are a few useful to shorten the ramp-up period: 

  • Develop a well-structured onboarding program that covers everything from product knowledge to sales techniques and tools.
  • Use sales enablement platforms to centralize resources, tools, and reporting.
  • Pair new reps with experienced mentors who can provide guidance and support throughout the onboarding process.
  • Create a sales coaching program where reps have weekly meetings to improve their skills.
  • Have a structured process in place for ongoing deal reviews, which help reps learn from their successes and failures.
  • Clearly define what success looks like for new reps and use specific, measurable sales KPIs.
  • Ask for (and act on) feedback on the onboarding process.

Importance of Training in Sales Rep Onboarding and Ramp Time

Comprehensive training programs significantly reduce the time it takes for new sales reps to become productive. Onboarding that includes clear, structured product training, sales processes, and tools helps new sales hires quickly adapt to their roles and start generating sales faster.

For example, using a structured onboarding program with defined phases (such as 30-, 60-, and 90-day plans) ensures that reps acquire the necessary knowledge and skills systematically, which shortens ramp-up time. That’s why investing in sales training yields a 353% ROI.

It also…

  • Reduces knowledge caps and flattens the learning curve
  • Gives reps practical skills they can apply in the field right away
  • Equips reps with a deeper understanding of the product and customer needs
  • Builds confidence and motivation in new reps, leading to higher job satisfaction and retention
  • Helps reps exemplify your brand and messaging in sales conversations
  • Increases consistency and efficiency across the entire team, which enables easier tracking of progress and areas for improvement

Companies with strong learning cultures that follow sales onboarding best practices tend to see 30% to 50% higher employee engagement and retention rates as well.

Comparatively, long ramp times from a poor training process result in substantial lost revenue opportunities. For instance, in a scenario where one rep takes six months to ramp up, and another only takes three, the company is missing out on whatever three months’ worth of that rep’s sales would be. In B2B sales, that could easily be hundreds of thousands of dollars in new deals.

Impact of Sales Technology on Ramp Time

By automating certain tasks and processes, reps have more time to focus on learning and selling. It also makes the actual selling experience much more comfortable, meaning reps don’t have to learn as many functions — they just have to learn how to use the software.

CPQ (configure, price, quote) is a perfect example of this. You can use it to…

  • Create sales playbooks, which provide reps with guidance on how to handle different deal scenarios
  • Give sellers real-time visibility into sales activities and performance metrics
  • Streamline the sales process and eliminate some of the guesswork with guided selling and automated workflows
  • Automatically generate accurate quotes and proposals, which decreases the time reps spend on administrative tasks
  • Simplify contract management and approval processes, which new sellers would otherwise have to navigate manually

Additionally, having a centralized platform for sales resources and reporting (i.e., a sales enablement tool) saves time and streamlines the onboarding process, reducing ramp-up time. They can access information and training materials wherever they need to, without wasting time searching through multiple systems or asking others for resources.

People Also Ask

What is a good sales ramp time?

A good sales ramp time is generally considered to be around three to six months, though this can vary significantly depending on the industry, complexity of the product, and the company’s specific sales processes.

For example, in companies with complex sales cycles (like those selling enterprise software), the ramp-up period might extend to six months or more. Conversely, in less complex sales environments, a shorter ramp time of one to three months will suffice.​

According to HubSpot, the average ramp time for new sales reps is 3.2 months. This period accounts for the time needed to complete training, understand the company’s products and sales processes, and start generating consistent sales​​.

What are the biggest challenges associated with sales rep ramp time?

A lack of proper training and resources is the biggest challenge sales teams face when it comes to improving ramp time. Without a structured onboarding program, new reps may struggle to learn the necessary skills and product knowledge quickly. And many companies don’t have a way to track and measure the effectiveness of their onboarding processes.

Ineffective use of technology is another major roadblock. Companies that rely heavily on manual processes or outdated technology hinder their sales teams’ productivity and efficiency. This, in turn, extends ramp-up time and reduces sales results.

How does ramp time impact sales forecasting?

Ramp time has a direct impact on sales forecasting because it affects the timing and accuracy of new reps’ sales. When ramp-up time is shorter, reps can start closing deals sooner, which ultimately leads to increased revenue for the company. On the other hand, longer ramp times mean delayed sales and a potential decrease in forecasted revenue.

How do companies typically set quotas for ramping reps?

There are a few different methods companies use to determine quotas for ramping reps.

Many use historical data for similar positions or products and estimate what new reps might be able to achieve based on that information. This approach can be helpful but may not account for changes in the market or industry.

Some set quotas as a percentage of what experienced reps are achieving, with the expectation that ramping reps will eventually reach the same level. This method allows for more flexibility but can result in inconsistent quotas.

And some companies create a quota based on company goals and then dividing it among all sales reps, including those ramping up. This approach is often used in larger organizations but doesn’t always account for the individual abilities and strengths of ramping reps.