In my previous blog post, I shared how Alteryx successfully integrated specific sales training elements into their corporate-wide new employee orientation. By doing so, they ensure new employees not just acclimate into corporate culture, but can also fully comprehend the awesomeness of the products. In the digital era, marketing and PR need all the help they can get from all employees to spread the goodness of their products organically. After all, the best marketing is still referrals and word-of-mouth.

Although my book, Effective Sales Enablement, focus on what marketers can do to better support sales. In general, sales enablement is still defined as sales onboarding and training.

So here are the 3 lessons I learned from Alteryx Sales Academy, which I was fortunate to attend.

The Sales Academy as Part of New Employee Orientation

Alteryx merges their 3.5-day new employee orientation and a 1 day Sales Academy into a 4.5-day long training week.

Since only one day is assigned to sales training, many sales elements such as product messaging, competitive landscape, buyers’ personas, and product demos are seamlessly incorporated into the overall employee orientation so that both sales and non-quota carrying employees are properly trained. As part of the new employee orientation, all employees are required to explain product messaging without presentations and scripts, discuss Alteryx’s product position as part of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, conduct a product demo using real data, and give a presentation with key takeaways. It’s a dry-run for real-life customer interactions.

Focus on key elements that Sales Needs to Know at the Orientation

With multiple sales elements as part of an overall employee onboarding, the team is able to shorten the sales academy training down to one day. Nick Magee, Sales Enablement Generalist, carefully prioritizes what should be included in that day. Nick focuses on the key elements that the salespeople need to know when they go back to work after the Sales Academy. He kicks off sales training with a Q & A with VPs of Sales. Rather than going lengthy slides, the VPs share their expectations, some challenges they encounter in selling, while also giving an opportunity for salespeople to ask questions. According to Nick, it’s always very engaging and interactive.

Then, Nick arranges for experienced sales managers to go through sales stages and processes and discuss a list of questions to ask customers during each stage. These seasoned managers also share do’s and don’ts, tips and tricks on what to do in difficult situations or with challenging customers. Again, the whole session focuses on discussion, with few slides and several cheat sheets.

Next, they have Legal come in to talk about the various licensing agreements and differences between the Deal Desk and Legal. When salespeople are able to get to the agreement stage, it’s usually the last stage before the PO placement or monetary transaction is completed. Unfortunately, it does take time for Legal to review the agreements. The last mile to close the deal can sometimes take longer than expected. Nick invites Legal to come in and talk about the process to shorten the cycle. Ultimately, Legal also wants sales to close deals faster, but they need Sales to understand the process.

‘Competitive Landscape 101’ is presented as part of employee orientation and Nick makes sure that salespeople have an in-depth understanding of competitors by asking the Competitive Intel team to come back and talk more about key competitors in a follow-up portion of Sales Academy that he calls ‘Competitive Landscape 201.’ It gives salespeople more ammunition when their prospects inquire about competitors’ features and benefits.

Module-centric training to keep momentum as follow-ups

After 4 days of training, everyone is tired. Rather than expanding the Sales Academy to more days and keeping salespeople at the Headquarters, Nick decided to modularize other sales topics. Salespeople can access these via on-demand formats on SalesHood, their internal sales enablement platform and library, after the orientation. Topics such as cases studies, compensation, and sales tools are all modularized and can be accessed by salespeople anytime and anywhere.

Moving ahead…

I asked Nick for his vision for the Sales Academy. In his vision, the sales academy should get sales ready for their first day. During Sales Academy, salespeople are trained to use different sales tools, set up their cadence, learn how to do account reviews and more. The approach really goes in-depth. However, he can’t do that alone. This approach is a departmentalized methodology in which the sales team takes more ownership through a train-the-trainer method. It will help new salespeople ramp faster.

In addition, he would like to see the Sales Academy offer role-based training as Alteryx continues to grow its sales team and functionality. The inside sales’ skillset and knowledge are different from the field sales team. The commercial salespeople focus more on transactional sales, while the enterprise sales cycle is much longer when expanding Alteryx adoption in an account. The sales approach on the enterprise is certainly different than that of the commercial side. Providing more customized and personalized training is essential.

Like he said: “too much to do, too little time.” As Nick continues to revamp and optimize sales training, I can’t wait to see the next generation of the Alteryx Sales Academy.


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