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

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
President and Director

Redwood Trust

LSA Global’s consultant brought a fresh perspective to our behavioral based interviewing strategy for two key executive positions we needed to fill, and their consultant helped us develop questions that produced a much deeper understanding of candidates’ capabilities. I am confident that the two new executives joining our organization have the right skills to add significant value. Throughout the process LSA was also very responsive in dealing with short lead time requests.

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Kim Silva, CFO

What a personal and professional pleasure it has been to Partner with LSA. They are truly a strategic partner with Wyse. For more than 5 years, LSA has been engaged in delivering various training and development solutions for Wyse, from custom on-site programs targeting specific core competencies, to working individually with clients to build job skills, and offering invaluable services to me and my team as we continue to build our learning programs. LSA’s representatives do more than sell a product, they offer a full service solution: they understand our business, our strategic initiatives, and the needs of our customers.

Jeff Rangel
Director of HR

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We appreciate LSA’s commitment to cutting-edge practices and keeping us in step with the progressive front of our rapidly changing workplace environment.

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LSA demonstrated the criticality for executives to look beyond current ethics topics and focus on applying fundamental values in everything they do to demonstrate true leadership. They successfully delivered in two hours what most leadership development presenters would spend an entire day trying to communicate.

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Talent Acquisition

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We recently hired LSA to help us take our client delivery methodology to the next level as we continue to grow and help our clients succeed. The custom strategy and design session exceeded my expectations. They really understood our business and turned around the project within a tight timeframe. LSA’s consultants were the best I have seen for this type of project. LSA’s ability to get a group of 20+ executives from around the globe on the same page, push their thinking to new heights, and ensure an executable plan was excellent. I would recommend LSA to anyone looking to take their plans and execution to the next level.

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EVP Client Delivery

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Director of Global Recruiting

AKQA

LSA is an instrumental training outsourcing partner in helping us to build management capacity and strategically invest in our people. Their flexibility, depth, and breadth of expertise allows us to deliver top quality solutions that are directly tied to key business plans. Their ability to custom design, deliver, and evaluate our Management Curriculum has been excellent. They are true business partners and a pleasure to work with.

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Vice President, Human Resources

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The experiential New Employee Orientation was an incredible success for over 2500 new hires in four years across the globe. They partnered with us to create an innovative solution on very short notice, and added a huge amount of value that isn’t reflected in their cost. We could never have done it without their unmatched combination of expertise, professionalism, and creativity that aligned everything with our unique culture. Even our experienced hires were blown away!

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Senior Manager, Training & Professional Development

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LSA Global has provided our Employee Engagement Survey for the past 3 years. Their ability to administer the survey, help us sort through complex organizational changes that impact reporting, and provide flexible, customized report formats gives a high level of comfort and confidence in the work. The survey results have helped us identify and take actions to address the concerns of our Gen Y workforce. In all, LSA provides us with great value, and I would highly recommend them.

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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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