The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective


New hire ramp-up…

Recently, I’ve fielded many questions about ramping-up new sales reps.  My answers aren’t liked.   The “ratios”; the effort; the structured oversight; sounds like work, I guess.

The conversations start the same way, “Gary, do you know any really good sales reps we can hire?”  Or, they ask if a machine-based, on-boarding system is the way to go so their sales managers can do, “more important things”?

“More important things”?  What’s more important than ramping-up new sale reps – hitting the number?  My bad – I thought that hitting the number was the sales reps’ job.  If the sales manager is focused on “hitting the number”; then what are the sales reps focused on?

These new hire, ramp-up questions are typically framed in time-based units of measure; preferring to minimize the time.  “Can’t automation shorten the ramp time (and the work)”?  “If we hire an experienced sales rep, they won’t need any ramp-up, right?”

Reminds me of my sons.  They chose professions other than sales.  (No following in the old man’s footsteps for them, LoL!)

My younger son is a commercial driver.  When he chose his profession, he had two ramp-up options:

  • He could have taken a Do-It-Yourself; Internet-machine-based-learning; take the CDL test cold; multiple times if necessary; and hope for the best
  • Or, graduate from a Professional Driving School

The former offered a slim chance of being licensed and a slimmer chance of being hired.  The latter involved classroom lectures; tests; twenty hours on the “backing pad” learning three backing maneuvers; 30 hours of supervised driving time on the road; a DOT physical; and then passing the CDL test.  The work was worth it.

My older son is a commercial electrician.  When he chose his profession, he also had two ramp-up options:

  • He could have found a contractor  using an On-The-Job approach for their new employees, not caring if they are licensed or not
  • Or, chose to start as an apprentice; log 8,000 documented job hours; then pass the State Journeyman’s Examination; to become licensed

Practicing on the “backing pad”?  Supervised time in the role?  8,000 hours of documented experience?  Licensed?  Sounds like work.  I enjoy the comparison.

In the “blue collar” world of professional drivers and professional electricians, ramp-up plans involve structured, supervised processes to insure effectiveness.  What about the “white collar” world of sales professionals?

Reminds me of the strength and conditioning work athletes put in; the ratios of workouts needed to excel in the “game”.  For distance runners, its miles logged not weeks on the calendar that count.  For professional golfers, the ratio of practice balls hit dwarfs the number hit in tournaments.


Cold calling is a numbers game (or, to be more precise, a ratios game). 

Stephen Schiffman

Here’s how I apply Stephen’s ratios for ramping-up a new sales rep:

How many calls will the new sale rep have to make,

before they schedule their 1st appointment?

How many 1st appointments will they have to complete,

before they identify their 1st qualified prospect?

How many qualified prospects will they have to complete discovery meetings with,

before they deliver a solution/demo?

How many demos,

before they deliver a proposal?

How many proposals,

before they close their 1st deal?

How many deals,

to get to their assigned quota run-rate?

Elapsed time; even machine-based elapsed time?  IMHO – wrong unit of measure.

I believe the effort needed for successfully ramping-up a new sales rep is based on ratios of supervised effort.  And yes, that is called work.


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  1. John Harris
    Jun 03, 2015

    Cr*p Gary! You mean a leader is actually expected to educate, observe, correct, guide, observe again? Why do we humans expect to be able to skip the details and still reap the rewards? Automated tools have their place, but the tool is only as good as the people behind it, and as effective as the people using it. If a new-hire is a veteran at their job, they still will require an understanding of the new company, what makes it different, it’s logistics, structure, the brand etc.
    Toss them into the flow based just on past experience and they’ll do their job the way their old employer demanded. Who would want that from an employee?

    • Gary
      Jun 04, 2015

      So true John, so true. Thanks for offering your wisdom! And I think you’re right, “Who would want that from an employee?” Thx, GAP

  2. Nathan Sumner
    Jun 12, 2015

    Too close to home, Gary…

    • Gary
      Jun 14, 2015

      For us all, Nathan… for us all 🙂 Thx, GAP

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