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Times are changing. A sharp increase in the “ramp-up time” for sales reps over the past five years has combined with an overwhelming shift toward a longer sales cycle to form an alarming trend. Mitigate this trend and set the foundation for a successful year in 2016 by leveraging our best practices to get your new sales recruits ramped up in record time.

Develop Onboarding Material That Works

Offer new sales reps onboarding materials that they can easily refer back to both during and after training sessions. This will relieve the stress many new employees feel trying to keep up with note-taking during onboarding. It will also provide a resource for new recruits to reference and reinforce the information passed along during those training sessions.  Load digital copies of these materials onto a sales enablement tool so that all the necessary information is available to them at any time, from any device.

Build An Onboarding Template

A sales rep’s first few weeks are crucial to their success. How they are set up and enabled during this time period could determine whether or not they will add value to your organization. During these first few weeks, provide them with the tools to do the job, as well as the institutional knowledge, product training and support that they need to succeed. Allocate time and resources toward creating a robust onboarding program that will help each new sales rep develop a strong foundation. While this program can be standardized to include product & operations training, marketing sessions, and sales ops onboarding, it should also be flexible enough to accommodate training sessions that are tailored for specific roles within the sales organization.

Ramp Them Up For Success

For many companies, the formal training process ends after the onboarding period, leaving sales reps to “ramp-up” on their own. During this period, sales reps expand upon the skills and information they learned during onboarding and focus on ramping up to reach their full potential within the sales organization. Yet for many reps, this process takes longer than it should. The entire ramp-up process for new recruits today takes an average of 5.3 months, up more than 25% from 4.2 months in 2014. Organizations can help sales reps shorten this process by developing a specialized sales training program that is specifically aligned with their business, industry, and customers. The goal of this program should be to teach sales recruits how to be most effective at moving sales conversations forward and closing deals.

Start with proven best practices to offer them a healthy launch pad to develop their own unique techniques, style, and strategy. Then, utilize a sales enablement technology to distribute content and gain visibility into new recruit’s ramp-up progress. You’ll be able to spot the trends of what content is used, and which materials are the most effective. Use these insights to update and improve your sales training content, and shorten the ramp-up period for new recruits down the line.

It’s important to note that not every employee will need to focus on the same areas, nor will every employee find the same type of training activities valuable for success. Combined with qualitative feedback, a data-driven sales enablement platform will help you adapt your ramp-up program for each type of learner that joins your organization.

Develop a formalized onboarding and ramping program to set your team members and sales organization up for long-term success. With a sales enablement technology that offers insights into new recruits’ training progress, you will be able to optimize the overall onboarding and ramping process to make it more effective. Getting it right from the start will enable new recruits in your sales organization to reach their full potential sooner – and start closing deals faster.

This article originally appeared on the Showpad blog.