Training Industry Magazine - Fall 2014 - (Page 9)

GUEST EDITOR I M P R OV I N G SALES O N B OA R D I N G E F F E C T I V E N E SS - TOM LADENBURG Implementing an effective onboarding program sets employees up for success from the start. But as companies grow, training practices must evolve to meet the needs of the expanding workforce. And with a rapidly growing workforce, our training team at Opower needed to rethink our sales onboarding practices and create a more effective solution. With a focus on reducing time-to-proficiency and getting sales executives up to speed and effectively selling by the five-month mark, Opower developed a highly aggressive, blended solution that has transformed how new sales executives receive information. TRAINING PRACTICES MUST EVOLVE TO MEET THE NEEDS OF THE EXPANDING WORKFORCE. DEVELOPING A FRAMEWORK Our mission to design a new program from scratch required our training team to identify the elements that sales executives need to master in order to be successful in the field. Those key elements include learning about Opower, having a solid foundation on the utility industry and regulatory environment, understanding our buyers, mastering Opower's solutions and value propositions, account strategy and the art of the pitch. After identifying these fundamental elements, a 30-60-90-day training plan was developed using a combination of instructor-led training, self-paced materials and real-world experiences, and then customized for our international offices. We then created individual development plans for each sales executive in our learning management system, ensuring sales executives know what is expected of them and how they can take control of their own enablement. Here are some key components to this unique onboarding program: * Leadership Transparency Wanting leadership to take a more active role in the training process, we developed a real-time training dashboard within (where they already spend much of their time). At a glance, a leader can see each sales executive's actual progress versus expected progress, completed certifications, and whether they have passed their assessments. * Peer-to-Peer Learning One of the most unique aspects of our sales onboarding program is the peer-topeer learning. We do not use trainers in our instructor-led training programs. The majority of training is directly from the leaders that run their specific solution or product. Opower makes a commitment in "pulling leaders off the line" to instruct new sales members each month. * Mandating Certifications Sales executives are required to complete 10 certifications within the first 180 days. To be certified in a specific solution, the sales executive must attend the solutionspecific instructor-led training, practice pitch with their colleagues, pitch to their VP and receive signoff, and pitch to the solution-specific SME and receive signoff. TRAINING INDUSTRY MAGAZINE - FALL2014 I WWW.TRAININGINDUSTRY.COM/MAGAZINE * Comprehensive Assessments To ensure that learning transfer has taken place and that new sales executives are prepared to successfully drive revenue, key enablement milestones are implemented by way of a 90-day assessment and a five-month comprehensive readiness assessment. Included in these assessments are oneon-one meetings with the sales leaders covering items such as pipeline and account planning reviews, product mastery, and client scenario exercises. LOOKING FORWARD While this program is in the early stages of rollout, the response and feedback from participants has been universally positive. Within the past six months, more than 180 hours of onboarding sales training have been delivered (representing more than 5,000 seat hours) and more than 200 certifications have been completed. While there is still work to do, this onboarding program has enabled new sales executives to gain the skills they need to succeed in the field. THIS ISSUE'S GUEST EDITOR Tom Ladenburg is director of training at Opower and has more than 16 years of management consulting experience in the learning and talent management industry. Tom is experienced in the development and delivery of blended learning solutions and enterprise-wide performance support strategies. Email Tom. 9

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Training Industry Magazine - Fall 2014

From Where I Sit
Table of Contents
Guest Editor: Improving Sales Onboarding Effectiveness
An Emerging View of Learning Content
Manager Compassion: The Antidote of the Revolving Door
Balance and Praxis
Giving Old Content New Life
Leveraging Custom Learning Initiatives
Contextual Anchoring in Learning Design
Training for Performance Improvement: A Carrot or A Stick?
Rewiring Your Learning
Working with Subject Matter Experts
What's Your ROI for Content Development?
Casebook: Manitoba Hydro: Powering Up with e-Learning
Design Considerations for Content Delivery
Improving Online Learning Performance
A Brain-based Approach to Developing Training Content
What's Online
Company News

Training Industry Magazine - Fall 2014