The following is story about a CEO who fired his new sales leader after 60 days. He still made the number.


Last year, we were hired by a CEO named “Bill.” Bill had recently hired a new sales leader named “Steve.” When we began working with Bill, Steve was 45 days into his new role.


The first day I met Bill, we went to lunch. He was concerned about Steve. Something in his gut didn’t feel right. Steve wasn’t catching on. He appeared busy, but not productive. He was holding his cards close to the vest. Bill was nervous. He’d been down this road before.


“I don’t think Steve is going to work out,” Bill said. “When should I pull the plug?”


Before I could answer, Bill continued with some specifics. When he hired Steve, he put together a list of 10 new hire accountabilities. These were called “pre-ramp” accountabilities.



What are Pre-Ramp Accountabilities?

Bill’s pre-ramp accountabilities were new hire activities focused on job execution. Rather than wait for big results like quota attainment, Bill developed early success indicators.


Some best practice examples he used were:


  1. Weekly 1on1s conducted with each sales rep
  2. Top 10 deal reviews conducted bi-weekly
  3. 8 days in the field with sales reps monthly


Bill had these items clearly spelled out. After 30 days, Steve had only met 1 pre-ramp accountability. After 45 days, Steve had only met two. Steve was not tracking to make up ground by day 60. Bill’s concerns were valid.  


What do Pre-Ramp Accountabilities do?

The pre-ramp accountabilities provided Steve a clear path for early success. Bill’s previous leadership development plan was focused entirely on theory. It had things like: Company info, product training and policies and procedures. He realized he’d created leadership training with no eye towards execution.


Bill was ahead of his peers by having an onboarding process in the first place. The problem was he didn’t know soon enough if his new hires were producing. By completing the above activities, the new hire was considered “onboarded.” It was all theory. Bill had no way to determine if the follow-on activities were generating results. By the time he figured it out, 9 months had passed. Money and time were spent. The number was missed. It was too late.


When Bill hired Steve, he had a clear path focused on job execution. There was no confusion on what Steve needed to get done from day 1.


What Does it Mean to Use Pre-Ramp Accountabilities?

It meant Bill could quickly determine if Steve was going to be successful. Previously, Bill waited 9 months before he got to this point. The year was wasted. He’d spent money and time, yet had nothing to show for it.


With Steve, the alarm bells were ringing after just 30 days. By day 60, he was ready to pull the plug. Rather than operate on gut feel, he had real evidence. Bill implemented pre-ramp accountabilities, used them with Steve and saved himself money and time.


How to be Like Bill:

Bill fired Steve on day 60. It was clear he’d made a hiring mistake. Instead of prolonging the pain and missing the number, he made the change. The longer he stayed with Steve, the more it would cost.


Fortunately for Bill, he had 9 months left in the year. He hired a new sales leader in Q2. He exceeded his pre-ramp accountabilities and made the number.


Leadership training and development is an investment CEOs like Bill are making. Bill incorporated pre-ramp accountabilities into onboarding to drive job execution. CEOs can make decisions to pull the plug in as little as 30 days.