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Sales Rep Ramp: A Core Driver for Effective Top-Line Planning

Steven Groccia
Steven Groccia
Posted on
May 19, 2021
Updated on
June 18, 2021
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How long does it take your sales reps to ramp up to full productivity? It’s an easy enough question, but the answer isn’t always clear. Learn how to measure sales rep ramp by combining CRM and HRIS data.

Understanding your sales rep ramp is vital for planning bookings, revenue, and cash flow. However, data normalization processes make it difficult to track sales rep ramp accurately in spreadsheets.

Out-of-the-box reporting from point systems can help you get around data normalization challenges. The problem is that there’s no single point system that offers complete visibility into ramp time.

Your CRM can provide plenty of insight into sales performance. But without pulling in additional employee and financial data, it could leave you with errors in financial assumptions that lead to missed revenue goals, unrealistic top-line projections, and misguided headcount plans.

A data-driven view of sales rep ramp is crucial for accurate sales capacity and top-line planning. And the best way to get that evidence-based understanding is by centralizing financial data from systems like your CRM, HRIS, and ERP.

What Is Sales Rep Ramp?

Sales rep ramp, also called sales ramp rate or sales ramp-up time, is a measure of how long it takes your sales team to go from new hire to full productivity.

Everyone knows brand new sales reps don’t come in and start hitting their quota on day one. Your rep ramp accounts for the time it takes to onboard new hires to the company, finish product training, and go through an entire sales cycle.

From a finance perspective, sales rep ramp is one input for your financial model that adds context to revenue forecasts. However, it’s important not to oversimplify the metric by relying on industry benchmarks or standardized productivity ramps to forecast sales performance.

Knowing that The Bridge Group found the average sales rep ramp is just over three months may help your sales leader think about pipeline goals. But it’s not nearly granular enough to support accurate financial forecasts. And it may be common to assume a productivity ramp of 0%, 25%, 50%, and 100% quota attainment over a rep’s first four quarters, but that might not reflect your actual numbers.

The more you can tailor your sales ramp rate assumption to your business, the more accurate your models and plans will be.

Why a Clear View of Sales Rep Ramp Matters

Your sales rep ramp isn’t just another metric to report on month after month and quarter after quarter—it’s an invaluable tool for improving the accuracy of your top-line plans and collaborating more effectively with sales leaders.

As you build out your financial model and top-line plan, you need to create a clear connection between revenue goals and sales rep hiring plans. Say you want to double bookings over the next 12 months. Is that goal feasible given the number of sales reps you’re planning to hire? If it’s not, how many sales reps should you be hiring? And how soon do you need them to start?

An accurate underlying assumption for your sales rep ramp is essential to answering all of these questions. Getting that input right helps build a top-line plan that effectively reflects your business.

But a clear view of sales rep ramp doesn’t just improve your models. It also helps you create a common language with your sales leaders.

When your sales team is growing quickly, there’s nothing more important than hiring great people. And while your sales leaders can take charge of choosing the perfect candidates for the job, not every new hire will be perfect. That’s where finance can forge a strategic partnership with sales.

With granular insight into sales rep ramp, you can help your sales leaders get a complete overview of their team’s performance. Are new hires trending in the right direction? Can you identify underperformers quickly and help sales leaders action? How can you rethink sales capacity plans based on historical ramp times?

Your sales rep ramp is just one input that goes into effective top-line planning and sales collaboration. But accurately measuring ramp-up time can make all the difference in how you offer strategic guidance to your business.

The Most Accurate Way to Measure Sales Rep Ramp

The best way to measure your sales rep ramp is by combining data from your HR system and your CRM. Your CRM contains sales performance data like bookings and opportunities won, and your HR system helps you contextualize that data with each rep’s start date to get a historical view of your ramp rate.

But many companies end up measuring sales ramp rates by quota attainment instead. They look at their CRM data and see how long it takes, on average, for a new sales rep to meet 100% of quota. There are a couple of problems with this approach:

  • Productivity vs. Quota: The quota attainment method bases ramp times on how quickly reps can meet the benchmark you set. But what if there are flaws in quota planning or hiring and your team is underperforming? Focusing on historical productivity instead of future quota attainment improves the accuracy of financial assumptions.
  • Sales Rep Experience: Basing sales ramp rates on quota attainment doesn’t fully factor in the experience level of new hires. If you’re using your sales rep ramp to build out your headcount plan, you need a more granular understanding of productivity. Comparing rep ramp according to experience can help improve strategic planning.

Combining CRM and HR data to look at historical sales productivity helps you avoid these issues and understand your actual ramp rate.

Automate Sales Rep Ramp Calculations in Mosaic

Most finance teams build their sales rep ramp charts in Excel. But for high-growth companies, your sales rep ramp isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it metric. As your sales team grows, you need to keep your finger on the pulse of how ramp rates change. And that’s why automating the calculation is so important.

Mosaic integrates all sales and employee data from your CRM and HR system to provide a clear visualization of rep ramp rates in just a few clicks. Instead of going through the monthly or quarterly cycle of transferring data into your spreadsheet, you can get a real-time view of sales productivity on your Mosaic canvas.

In the graph below, Mosaic consolidates sales performance data from Salesforce and employee information from Gusto and automatically normalizes rep start dates to time zero. It stack ranks each sales rep to give clear insight into when new hires start contributing meaningfully to the pipeline.

sales rep ramp bookings mosaic strategic finance platform

In this example, you can see sales reps starting to ramp up on bookings after Month 3. But depending on your business model, building financial assumptions around bookings may not be the best approach. You can gain additional context by measuring sales rep ramp according to the number of deals closed, like in the graph below.

This graph shows opportunities won, normalized by sales rep start date. When you compare it to the bookings graph, you can start to filter your ramp rate according to deal volume and value.

sales rep ramp deals won mosaic strategic finance platform

Having this kind of granular control over the data helps you ground your financial model in granular, historical data instead of broad industry standards or generalized sales performance insights.

Build a Stronger Partnership Between Finance and Sales

Sales rep ramp is one of many metrics that sit at the intersection of multiple business systems. In this case, it’s the CRM and HRIS. When you connect these systems through Mosaic, your finance team can capture the data from both sides and use it to help individual departments make better decisions.

Real-time insight into metrics like sales rep ramp will help you build trust with sales leaders and communicate more effectively. Instead of just sending a report to the VP of Sales on a monthly or quarterly basis, you’ll go into conversations loaded with strategic insights that will drive value—both for the sales leader and the business as a whole.

Mosaic’s analysis canvas can act as the connective tissue of your business and the collaborative hub for finance, sales, and every other aspect of the organization. Want to see how it can help you track sales rep ramp and other key metrics? Request a demo and find out what a Strategic Finance Platform can do for your business.

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