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

We turned to LSA Global to help take our behavioral interviewing process to the next level in terms of both efficiency and effectiveness. LSA quickly understood our unique culture and challenging requirements.  They immediately helped us to improve our ability to continue to hire top talent that fits our culture and talent management strategy as we rapidly scale.

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Technical Program Manager

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LSA has a very unique and powerful methodology regarding learning. Their ability to overcome skepticism, obtain executive support, and create an aligned learning strategy that provides measurable business impact is second to none. They understand your goals, flex to your needs, and solve problems. They certainly help make my job easier and are a pleasure to work with. I highly recommend LSA to anyone trying to connect the dots between strategy, skills, knowledge, and results.

Noelle Van Vlierbergen
Human Resources Director

AKQA

We looked to LSA Global as a consulting partner to help us explore innovative and scholarly approaches to promote employee engagement and sustain the unique culture we’ve built over the last decade.  LSA helped us perpetuate coaching as a discipline across the organization by integrating our core values, goal setting, and performance management.  We appreciate LSA’s commitment to cutting-edge practices to help keep us a step ahead during this time of rapid change.

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Vice President, Human Resources

Redwood Trust

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 trusted training, coaching, and consulting partner to improve performance – at both a tactical and strategic level.

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VP Human Resources

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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 key strategic projects forward. The experience was better than anticipated.  I could not be more pleased.

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President & CEO

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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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Director, Team Development

We partnered with LSA years ago.  Since then, our organization’s learning needs have increased, decreased, and increased again. The beauty of LSA’s business model is its flexibility and depth of their expertise.  When we need strategic or tactical outside help, we use LSA knowing that we can depend on outstanding quality advice and targeted solutions every time.

Margie Bunting
HR Manager

Having a training outsourcing partner like LSA to support our talent management needs has been a real blessing. In an emerging company where typically you can’t afford the infrastructure necessary to provide a full range of offerings to meet the changing needs of an organization, having an external partner who understands our business and our culture and offers everything from a wide range of open enrollment programs to customized organizational development consulting is almost as good (and in some cases better than) having your own internal Training and Organizational Development function.

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We have had a very beneficial partnership with LSA. Their recent Leadership Development Program helped us to identify, develop, and retain top leaders. It was instrumental in helping take our company and our key people to the next level. I would recommend them to anyone looking to truly develop and retain top talent.

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Vice President of Operations

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We partnered with LSA Global to help us invest in our people. LSA custom designed an impactful management curriculum to help upskill our key managers and leaders. We consider LSA to be our trusted learning and development partner and a valued extension of our team.

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SVP Human Resources

Ellie Mae

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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.

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We partnered with LSA to help custom design, deliver, and measure an advanced new employee on-boarding process. It 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 solution quantifiably improved new employee and hiring manager satisfaction and increased the speed to sales quota for new hires. I would highly 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 as we continue to scale.

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Jeff Rangel
Director of HR

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