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How I Ramp SDRs

3 stages of onboarding

Chris Ritson

10 Nov 2023

3 mins

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Over the years I’ve done some reflecting on why so many teams mess-up onboarding and the answer is always the same; we overcomplicate it or don’t do it at all. 

There is no system. No process. It’s usually just a random assortment of ‘‘sessions’’ we have no idea actually help ramp-up SDRs or not. 

In this newsletter I’ll outline my 3 stage ‘‘onboarding process’’ so you can steal it. 

Lets dive in. 

Stage 1 - Document 

Most teams I work with have the basics of a playbook written down somewhere but there’s always two problems: 

  1. Its outdated 

  2. It’s over relied on 

The first problem is obvious. It’s a lot of effort to keep documentation up to date. 

The second problem is less so. I’ve found leaders think that by creating a playbook they automatically put all their knowledge onto paper so its easy for new reps to come in a follow. 

Imagine this; you’re a new rep and on your first day you don’t even know the mission statement of your company but you’re handed a big old document to read and expected to recite word for word. It ain’t happening. 

The other issue is when reps read something they all interpret it differently. Imagine explaining to someone who has never played tennis how to serve in a document and then expecting them to do it. 

Sure, it’s useful to be able to reference back to but let’s not over-inflate the power of a playbook alone. 

The playbook needs support. It needs something to bring it to life. 

And that’s where Stage 2 comes in. 

Stage 2 - Demonstrate

We know documentation by itself isn’t an effective way of ramping reps (or teaching tennis players how to serve). 

So the question is what can accompany it? 

It took me a few months to work this bit out back in 2017 when we were hiring rapidly but as soon as I started doing it reps started ramping quicker. 

I recorded both myself and TOP performers doing the actions in the playbook in mini-videos. 

I quite literally showed the new reps exactly what great looked like using examples and giving brief overviews of the why. 

I did this for everything; cold calls, email, social, objections etc. 

It became very easy for us to hold reps accountable at this point because we spelt out everything (in written and video format) we wanted to see. 

99.9% of teams don’t do this. 

If you put in the upfront effort to do it. I promise you’ll weed out reps who were bad hires faster (saving time) and ramp potential superstars quicker. 


Stage 3 - Direct: 

Great news - the reps know what they need to do by this point. Or at least they should. 

That doesn’t stop them from going off-track from time to time though which is where stage 3 comes in. 

‘‘Direct’’ basically means coaching but it’s the 3rd and final ingredient to your onboarding programme. 

Now your reps know what they need to do they need to practice it and receive feedback on their performance so they can improve faster 

That’s the benefit of coaching for us; it speeds up a reps learning curve so they can win more (they win more, we win more). 

As a tip I double 2 things in onboarding. 

  1. I double activity goals for new reps compared to ‘‘ramped reps’’. Why? Because we need to make up for a lack of skill. 

  2. I double 1:1 and coaching time. Why? More direction = faster learning. 

If reps still can’t get it at this point its clear you got hiring wrong. 

Either way, it’s on you as the leader. 

Hope this helps. 

Quick Summary: 

Onboarding has 3 stages; Document, Demonstrate and Direct

Most companies start with ‘Direct’ then add a playbook and think it’ll solve their ramp-up issues. 

The secret sauce is to demonstrate exactly what you want new reps to do (record it on video). 

This Week’s Action Step: 

Start creating short videos of ‘‘great’’. Emphasis on short with an explanation as to why its so great so the reps gain context when they watch it. 

Good luck!!

My Next Product - Update:

I will be launching a digital course in January 2023. 

It’ll be: 

  1. Self-paced 

  2. One skill area 

  3. 2-3 hours of content

  4. Yours forever and ever

I’ll release what the course is on in the next couple of weeks. 

Watch this space.

Weekly Send-Off:

I hope you all have a great weekend. I’m off to watch my beloved Toon Army!! 

Until next Friday at 1.05pm, au revoir from me, Bridge, and Isaac 🙂  

PS. My number is +447814904622. If you need me, Whatsapp me.

Whenever you’re ready, here are 2 ways I can help you: 

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The next bootcamp will be in January. Join 50+ others and save your seat here.

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© 2024 Chris Ritson. All right reserved.

© 2024 Chris Ritson. All right reserved.