The Aim

Cisco’s Global Virtual Sales & Customer Success (GVS&CS) Onboarding Program is an online global sales development program for new hires in Cisco’s fast-growing GVS&CS organization. The aim is to accelerate the productivity of new salespeople by giving a comprehensive digital training in Cisco’s approach to selling, solutions and sales process. Cisco also wanted to reflect the Cisco promise ‘Changing the way we live, work, play and learn’. This highly successful program provided the foundation for Imparta’s Virtual Sales Academy™.

The Solution

  • Cisco’s web-based Onboarding Program incorporates over 70 hours of sales-related learning. Onboarders complete the program in their first eight weeks at Cisco, though many start it in advance of actually joining – further accelerating their development to sales competence. Nearly 100% of those who start complete the program, despite its depth and duration.
  • The program provides training on Imparta’s Creating Client Value sales methodology, focusing on building value for the customer, challenging the status quo and managing the customer’s buying cycle. The program also incorporates extensive information on Cisco’s customers and products, along with information on internal sales processes. The cloud-based platform means that updates and refinements are easy to implement.
  • The primary focus of the solution is to engage Cisco’s GVS&CS new hire sales audience. Salespeople are typically action-orientated, social, very busy and competitive. As millennial learners, they prefer to be in control of their learning: able to do it when and where they choose, in multiple formats that are engaging, visual and interactive. For these learners, experiential learning is the strongest format. The Onboarding Program delivers to these challenges. The modular content and easy navigation allow salespeople to take control of their learning. Upfront assessments allow them to plan and focus their time, and a scoreboard of their progress and results against their peers plays to their competitive instincts. Multiple formats have been used to maintain interest, both in their variety and by reflecting the visual preferences of many millennial learners.
  • The experiential learning challenge is the most innovative part of the program. Salespeople need to hone their skills, learning through practice, success and failure – in a safe environment where a mistake does not cost thousands of pounds in lost revenue. The 10 sales simulations in the Onboarding Program give new hires the opportunity to do just this. Onboarders can replicate the mistakes they might make in real life, learn the Cisco way, and then succeed when they try again.
  • An additional consideration is the need for new salespeople to quickly build a relationship with their managers, and for these managers to begin to carry out the coaching role expected of them in the Cisco sales organization. To achieve this, we built in frequent opportunities for new hire–manager interaction. These include discussing assessment results, carrying out sales role-plays with the manager, and completing on-the-job activities under their guidance.

The program has been incredibly well received, particularly the interactivity of the sales simulations and the multiple learning mediums that appeal to our millennial learners. It’s really scalable, and while our prime objective was the speed to productivity of new sales hires, we’ve also projected savings of over $1 million in 3 years. Sales Enablement Lead, Cisco