Sales Executive Onboarding: Professional Services

On-Boarding New Outside Sales Executives at a Growing Professional Services Firm

Client Case Study

Situation

This technology industry service start-up grew quickly as a forerunner in a new and quickly expanding market segment. Infused with external capital and charged with quickly growing revenue, the company embarked on a strategy to hire senior level Sales executives that would bring demonstrated success with large, complex sales.

In addition, a large part of the company’s success to date was attributed to their proprietary business practices which are an integral part of the sales process and highly interdependent with multiple functions within the organization. Given the breadth and complexity of the sales process the company’s original plan called for a 12 week on-boarding process that would “certify” a sales executive’s knowledge and understanding of how the company sales and does business.

The goal of the On-boarding program was to ensure that new sales executive attained productive, on the job performance as quickly, effectively, and efficiently as possible in three areas:

  1. Ensure that participants could demonstrate their understanding of company’s sales process and business practices
  2. Establish a cross-functional orientation to selling and build relationships with key sales process partners
  3. Reduce the formal On-boarding learning process form 12 weeks to 5 weeks

 

Complications

  • Compression: Create the experience and learning of a 6-9 months sales cycle in 5 weeks
  • Information: Communicate a significant amount of company information that directly influences the executives performance in this program and in the field
  • Individual Just-in-Time: Conduct the Onboarding program for one Sales executive at a time and/or multiple staggered executives
  • Senior Executives: Hold the attention of experienced senior level Sales executives in the learning process when they want to be out selling

Approach

The senior new hire on-boarding program approach blended various learning methods within a structured framework of eLibraries, presentations, meetings, real-world tasks, shadowing, mentoring and apprenticeships.

The underlying context of the On-boarding approach was a Sales Cycle Simulation based on the sales process used to acquire one of the company’s largest clients. Sales Cycle activities, deliverables and presentations were blended into the 5-week learning process and provided realistic “performance tests” at each phase of the Sales Cycle. Areas covered within the Sales Cycle included:

  • Performing due diligence on a perspective client
  • Creating perspective client account plans
  • Developing a pitch and several contextual value propositions
  • Delivering the pitch and value propositions to a panel of experts
  • Designing an implementation solution with the account service team
  • Recommending a pricing scheme for a specific solution
  • Crafting and delivering a proposal presentation to the perspective client (played by company executives)

Approach (cont)

Participants were also immersed into “on the job” learning contexts in numerous functional organizations such as, Marketing, Inside Sales, Account Management to meet key counterparts and learn about the different functions, roles, responsibilities, challenges, targets, and key projects.

Within account management new sales executives:

  • Worked with an assigned primary account team
  • Participated in account-specific training
  • Conducted research and quote preparation
  • Shadowed reps making calls
  • Prepared team analytics with Team Leads
  • Presented an overview of the account to the account leadership team
  • Worked with a channel account team to understand the nuances of the channel business
  • Worked with “support team” members from across the company to participate in cross-functional meetings and activities

In the late stages of the new hire On-boarding program new sales executives worked as an apprentice to an experienced Outside Sales Executive, slowly weening off until both the new hire and the Outside Sales Executive agreed that the participant was ready to call on clients and lead his/her team.

Participants moved through the On-boarding process as quickly as they were able to demonstrate pre-determined learning objectives by completing varying types of performance tests. Most performance tests involved being observed performing a task or presenting back to a subject matter expert or group. In these cases the primary focus was to give and receive feedback to aid the learning process.

Performance tests associated with key steps in the Sales cycle were evaluated more critically by company executives using several client focused presentations during the Sales cycle simulation.  The program culminates with a full proposal presentation to the perspective clients executives (played by their senior executives). While the On-boarding program was not intend to develop sales skills, the performance test did allow company executives to assess sales skills of new hires.

Results

  • 89% decrease in speed to productivity (from 36 weeks to 4 weeks)
  • 97.3% participant satisfaction
  • Early termination of 10% of new sales hires saving time and money on new hires that did not meet expectations

Related Information

Thank you for a great leadership development session today. The facilitator was brilliant, and we really enjoyed his style and personality. The sales team got a lot out of it (as did I). I believe it will help us create an even higher performance environment by ensuring we have a common understanding of our environmental structure and are all working towards the same goals.

Simon Jefferson
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We partnered with LSA to pilot a customized behavioral interviewing program to help ensure that we continue to hire the best and brightest as we continue to rapidly scale. LSA’s ability to understand our business and our unique culture combined with their desire to ensure that the best practices framework truly fits our performance environment and is highly adopted by our people is a real blessing. Most other firms want to just ‘give you training.’ Not LSA, they are focused on helping me hit our hiring forecasts and attract A players.

Jennifer Remling
Director of Global Recruiting

AKQA

LSA brought a very effective training design, and implementation approach to help us create a common language around our corporate training. As a fast growing company with a geographically dispersed workforce, their expertise in this area was invaluable to us in driving consistency, creating a sense of belonging for our employees, and developing a common language for all of us to use.

Binod Taterway
CEO

Blue Canopy

We partnered with LSA to help custom design, deliver, and measure an advanced new employee on-boarding and measurement process. The process was well thought out and bought into by sales leadership. The combination of targeted sales tools, technology, coaching, performance plans, training and reinforcement made all the difference.  The pilot program in EMEA was a big success and the solution quantifiably improved new employee and hiring manager satisfaction and increased the speed to sales quota for new hires. We are continuing to work with LSA Global to scale the program in other GEOs and expand to cover more roles at VMware.  I would recommend LSA Global for any sales enablement team looking to increase the engagement and speed to productivity of their sales force. We are excited to implement the program globally across VMware as we continue to scale.

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I consistently look to LSA Global when I need custom programs put together for my client groups. I can always count on LSA to do a thorough needs analysis and to put together spectacular programs that are well received. Their management development and performance management expertise and professionalism make them one of my top-rated learning and development partners.

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A key to performance improvement is strongly linked to cultivating the proper type of motivation. Since the performance management training, I have been much more focused on identifying and discussing how our actions in Engineering create value to IGT’s success. So far, the feedback has been positive. The group appears to be more accountable for their actions, and victim loop reactions are less frequent. The value proposition for me and those groups we work with is better teamwork, higher spirits, and a better outlook for things to come in the future (renewed enthusiasm).

Stewart Thoeni
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The action-learning leadership project has been very beneficial to me, our leadership team, and the entire organization. The balance of development and results has been excellent. We have made huge progress, and I was also able to identify 2-3 high potentials while having the extra benefit of people stepping up to carry strategic projects forward. The Staff is very appreciative and has become very comfortable with both the program and the process. It is still going better than anticipated, and I have been very pleased.

Heather Feltman
President & CEO

LSS

We partnered with LSA Global to help us invest in our people in the areas of performance coaching, diversity, and inclusion. They focused on helping us succeed and were very flexible in meeting our specific needs. LSA Global exceeded my expectations from a speed, quality, and value standpoint. I would recommend LSA Global to anyone looking for a true business partner.

Anita Luckinbill
Director, Human Resources

I just wanted to let you know how pleased I am with how the new employee on-boarding project went. The end product is wonderful! LSA has been great to work with. I really appreciate all the flexibility and the high quality.

Laurie Torres
Vice President of Human Resources

PDL

“We turned to LSA to help us custom design and deliver a leadership and management development curriculum to help drive performance. They have done an excellent job diagnosing the business situation, designing an approach that fits our culture, and delivering a first class solution.”

Sally Buchannan
VP Human Resources

I’m not sure if I’ve run across a company that can match the depth and quality of LSA’s consultants and facilitators. I highly recommend LSA to anyone seeking a strategic training outsourcing and consulting partner to improve performance.

Jeff Coon
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Exelixis

We partnered with LSA Global to help us invest in our people. LSA designed a modular and customized management curriculum that allows us to deliver top quality solutions to our managers and leaders. We consider LSA to be our learning and development partner and our LSA consultants to be an extension of our team.

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Ellie Mae

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Chris Wells
Vice President, HR and IT

It was a challenge to find a consultant with an approach to performance improvement that fit our unique culture and style. When we met with LSA we were surprised to discover their depth of expertise in the fields of motivation, developmental coaching and performance management and measurement.

Specifically, we were pleasantly surprised to find a company that could seamlessly integrate those three components without our folks feeling like the intervention was forced. They understood what we were trying to accomplish, helped us clarify our objectives, create a solid, refreshing approach that quickly got us moving and engaged people at all levels.

As they began to implement, I was thoroughly impressed with how they listened and made adaptations focused on our needs and business objectives. Overall, I couldn’t be happier that we found a partner in LSA.

Doug Hansen
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Larry Brown
Senior Manager, Training & Professional Development

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