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Sales Rep Onboarding: How Long Does It Really Take?

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Written by Mike Schultz
President, RAIN Group

Finding and hiring new sales talent is a long and expensive process. Once the new rep is hired, it takes time to onboard them. Especially challenging during the ramp-up period is building their knowledge in:

  • Your customers' businesses—their markets, industries, customers, regulations, etc.
  • The needs you solve and how to identify those needs
  • Your products and services as solutions to customer needs
  • The marketplace in general
  • Your company and your value proposition
  • The competition and how you win
  • How you’re differentiated
  • And, of course, how products and services are delivered, how to sell specifically at your company (i.e., your playbooks), your technology environment, and so on

It can be a long process to build expertise in all of these areas to get new reps up to speed enough to:

  1. Be ready to be put in front of potential buyers
  2. Be competent to perform with buyers
  3. Become a top performer

You need to make sure reps are ready with all the knowledge they need to succeed with customers. Additionally, you need to know they'll run meetings, lead sales opportunities, and interact with the market in ways that at least don’t reflect negatively on you, and hopefully get them ready to succeed in selling.

Given all of this, how long, on average, does it take to onboard a new sales rep?

To find out, we asked 423 sales leaders:

  • How long does it take to initially onboard a new sales rep?
  • How long does it take for new sales reps to reach top performance?

How Long Does it Take To Onboard a New Sales Rep?

Time to Onboard New Sellers

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It takes an average of three months for a new seller to be ready to interact with buyers, nine months for them to be competent to perform, and 15 months for them to become a top performer.

It’s a huge investment in time and resources for sales organizations to get sellers performing at a high level.

With a strong onboarding and sales enablement process, this timeframe can be shortened considerably. We’ve seen ramp-up time cut by greater than 50% when companies home in on improving in this area, increasing seller effectiveness, and decreasing turnover of sellers for whom getting up to speed was taking too long.

To shorten sales rep onboarding time, focus on developing a curriculum that builds skills over time. Your curriculum should train new reps on skills vital to your teams' success, reinforce those skills, teach additional skills at timed steps, and hold sellers accountable for using these skills. A well-built sales curriculum not only shortens ramp-up time, but also transforms sellers into top performers. 

For more on developing a sales enablement process that will transform your onboarding success and your sellers' performance, download The Complete Guide to Sales Training Success.

The Complete Guide to Sales Training Success

Topics: Sales Management