The primary purpose of sales onboarding and training is to get salespeople ready to sell. This is done by educating them to:
- Tell a relevant and personalized story to prospects
- Explain the company’s products and benefits
- Address prospects challenges and pain points
In the current digital era, everyone employee has access to various social media platforms that can be used to tell a story about the company’s products and to show their passion for the brands. So, wouldn’t it be great to give every employee sales training, so they know enough about their company’s products and benefits to be able to effectively evangelize for the company’s products and services anytime and anywhere an opportunity arises?
That’s exactly what Amy Pence, Director of Global Enablement in Alteryx, did after an organizational change that moved her sales training team from sales operations to HR two years ago. She took certain elements of sales onboarding and training, scaled it and refined the company-wide employee orientation to ensure that each employee understands Alteryx’s products and messaging.
Obviously, the primary goal of new employee orientation is to acclimate new employees to the company environment and culture.
While new employees are excited about getting started on their new jobs, the onboarding might as well to take that opportunity to get them excited about the company’s products too. This is especially hard to do when the products or platforms are complicated and technology-centric.
Alteryx is a self-service data-analytics platform. Their tool takes structured and unstructured data and builds a workflow to do further analysis. This video explains its features and functions nicely. However, it’s important for new employees to fully comprehend the product and its benefits. During the 3.5 days of new employee orientation, Amy and her team incorporated several sales training topics into the overall employee onboarding experience:
Help Employees Understand the Competitive Landscape
Amy’s team divided the competitive landscape into “Competitive Corner 101” and “Competitive Corner 201.” 101 offers a high-level glance at Alteryx’s competitors, broken down into different segments based on target audiences’ various needs. In addition, they also talk about the competitor landscape in the context of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Data Science and Machine Learning and how competitive information is used by sales and senior management. The competitive landscape helps employees comprehend the long-term and short-term business objectives and future product roadmap.
Prepare Employees to Tell A Customer Story
One thing that made an impression on me is the easy-to-understand product benefit framework illustrated from the data scientist’s point of view. Alteryx is a self-service data analytics platform with which users can mix and blend different types of data and then use Alteryx’s workflow to build their own analytics. Rebekah Shouse, Enablement Training Generalist, illustrates with a very simple sequence:
- Data analytics starts with a question. Understand the question you want to address.
- Then, source and find your data. Pull your data into one place.
- The next step is to answer the question by analyzing, sharing and collaborating with others to get the answers
- Lastly, take action based on the answers and deliver business value for your company
The Stages of Data Analytics:
Rebekah is able to illustrate 3-4 key benefits that Alteryx can provide for their users at each stage. It’s a framework that both sales and new employees can use and showcase anytime and anywhere.
I asked Rebekah if she encourages employees to take the sequence of a framework and change it to add their own personal touches. She told me that she discourages that. She uses McDonald’s french fries recipe as an example. McDonald’s localizes and customizes its menu, but the french fries recipe stays the same no matter which McDonald’s you go on the earth. This resonates with me well: messaging framework and keywords/phrases stay consistent, but how the story is told can be different from person to person. In fact, I wrote a blog post about why it’s important to keep messaging consistent.
Understand Alteryx’s Buyers’ Personas
Every employee should understand that it’s not the company who pays their salary, it’s the customers. Therefore, it’s important to understand who buys Alteryx products. Again, the enablement team made it very simple by classifying buyers into 3 categories:
The Line of Business (LOB): analysts in various functions such as Finance, HR, Marketing, Sales, Research and Development can benefit from using the self-service analytics platform.
Citizen data scientist and data scientist: data scientists, including consultants, who crank up data full-time. Individuals who create predictive or prescriptive analytics outside their primary job functions.
IT Managers: IT departments who provide data analytics to their internal stakeholders.
Again, employees don’t need to know these personas in-depth, but they need to be aware of who use the products, why they use it, and the benefit they receive as a result.
Product Demo and Hands-on Product Exercise
Amy’s team asks sales engineers to come to orientation to do a product demo so that employees can see the product in action real-time. However, it doesn’t stop there. As part of the exercise, groups of 4 to 5 employees need to devise a question to answer, then find data on the Internet (Amy’s team provided websites that they can use to find publicly available data), then work as a team and use Alteryx to find the answer and recommend actions to take…or in some cases, share additional questions that arose as a result of analyzing the dataset. The hands-on product exercise offers employees first-hand experience with how their buyers use the products. If the products are great, employees learn to love and appreciate the products just like their users.
The big finale of the new employee orientation is that every team needs to do a demo like a salesperson. They need to be able to explain how data analytics is important using the simple messaging framework, discuss Alteryx’s position in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Data Science and Machine Learning, conduct a real-life product demo to showcase Alteryx addressing a specific question and close the presentation with key takeaways. It gives employees an opportunity to be a salesperson and a user at the same time. I love it.
Katie Peterson, the Enablement Coordinator, told me that a lot of thought goes into agenda development and logistical planning for the new employee training. In addition to product training, they don’t miss the beat on other typical training elements, such as sharing the founders’ story, IT training, Travel/Expense, CEO/VP Q & A, cybersecurity and branding/social media training. In the packed 3.5 days orientation, they even incorporated a 3-hour community volunteer experience as well.
They were gracious enough to allow me to view their entire onboarding orientation recently, during which I even participated in the volunteer activity. For my session, we helped the Ecology Center’s in San Juan Capistrano by picking oranges in their farm and paving their parking lot with gravel. It gave everyone an opportunity to get out and enjoy the California sun. It was amazing to see what 30 people can accomplish in less than 3 hours when working together as a team with one goal. In no time, the parking lot was covered suitably with gravel and the oranges for that day were picked, sorted and washed nicely. It also created a nice sense of bonding and community for all employees.
In the digital era, employees can easily use social media platforms to amplify their voice and points of view.
Every employee can be a brand ambassador or company advocate if they choose to be. Why not help them understand the products and benefits and get them excited, not only about their new jobs but also about the company, products, culture and people, all at the same time.
Amy told me that they are progressive. Actually, I see their team as reformists by modernizing employee training with a sales flair. The team manages to create a shared responsibility for customer engagement regardless of their roles.
New job, new employee orientation, new excitement, a new beginning.
Keep reading, part II of Alteryx sales enablement efforts: 3 Invaluable Lessons from Alteryx Sales Enablement Efforts