Case Study: Avalara

We are hiring rapidly across multiple locations. How do we build a culture of sales excellence?
Computer Software
501 - 1000
Sales Onboarding

Avalara reduced the ramp up time for their sales hires by 41 days after adopting a structured onboarding program built on MindTickle.

Avalara, Inc. is a leading cloud-based software platform that delivers a broad array of compliance solutions related to sales tax and other transactional taxes, such as VAT. They help companies calculate, file and document their transactional tax obligations.

In 2014, with a sales force of about 50 people Avalara began hiring rapidly, putting a strain on their onboarding process. The sales force was further divided into five different roles – Inside Sales, Account Managers, Regional Sales Managers, Client Account Managers and Sales Engineers.

On an average we were bringing in 20 new hires per month, and we were opening an east coast office to match our west coast presence. In order to accomplish that, we needed an engaging and scalable technology solution.

Chuck Marcouiller

— Director of Sales Learning & Enablement at Avalara

Avalara’s pre-existing model of sales onboarding consisted of paper documents and a week long live-training class. Executives and subject matter experts conducted classroom sessions to train the reps on industry, product, competition, landscape and the company message. Chuck realized it was difficult to scale the current process for the new scaling.

He needed a technology solution to support the company’s expansion plans and began his search for a platform that was both cost-effective, easy-to-deploy and manage. After going through a comprehensive evaluation of several options, Chuck selected MindTickle as the technology partner. MindTickle suited all his needs such as – being able to create a role-based onboarding path, support for multiple content formats, gamification and the ability for the reps to practice their pitches. He started by rolling out a five-tier sales onboarding program and followed by other enablement initiatives such as trade-show certification, field coaching, message certification and manager enablement.

The five-tier onboarding program

Avalara’s onboarding program needed to accommodate multiple product lines, its complex sales cycles and five different sales profiles. Chuck also believed that managers should play a critical role in getting their reps ready to sell, so it was important to enable them with tools that gave them visibility into their reps’ progress. The program design also needed to include a prescriptive and milestone-based learning path to ensure reps’ ramp-up time and level of sales readiness was predictable.

The onboarding program designed, consisted of five levels – Train, Test, Reinforce, Evaluate and Signoff. The new reps had to graduate through all levels sequentially in order to be considered as sales ready. Here is a brief summary of those five levels:

  1. Train – The new hires needed to be equipped with baseline knowledge on the industry, product knowledge, message, differentiation and sales tools. These modules were delivered on MindTickle in an engaging video-based format which when combined with gamification and quizzes – kept the new reps highly engaged.
  2. Test – At the next level, thorough assessments were conducted to ensure that the reps had retained knowledge from the training. Multi-format quizzes on the MindTickle platform helped assess the reps and reinforce key concepts. As per Chuck “The reps would go back and review the videos every time they were presented with an exercise or quiz.” The analytics provided managers with clear visibility into the reps’ progress, and enabled the managers to identify the strengths and gaps.
  3. Reinforce – Having trained the reps on foundational knowledge, Avalara could now use the bootcamps to train the reps on advanced knowledge. The sales leadership noticed that the reps demonstrated higher engagement and asked insightful questions during the instructor-led sessions in the bootcamp.
  4. Evaluate – Before getting into active sales, the reps were required to get certified on multiple scenarios. With the role-play feature, reps were presented with scenario-based challenges on elevator pitch, demos, objection handling and competitive messaging. This provided the reps with a chance to rehearse and demonstrate readiness before they ever engaged with live prospects. It also helped managers to test messaging of the reps and provide actionable feedback.
  5. Sign-off – Managers conducted ride alongs to get the best read on the challenges the reps faced and offered constructive feedback based on the performance. Once the reps received a sign-off from the manager, they were declared as sales ready.

Impact

Time to first sale reduced by a week

Analytics provided a testimony to the initiative success and visibility into the reps’ readiness

Reduced ramp up time by 41 days