When SuccessFactors’ new president arrived, he wanted to position the company for explosive growth.

Using data from sales ops, he saw that deals where a customer executive was involved closed faster, had higher close rates and were larger than other deals. However, the sales team didn’t regularly engage customer executives, instead they traditionally targeted functional level decision-makers such as HR directors.

Another trend SuccessFactors saw was that customers were now evaluating new HR investments based on a technology’s ability to grow their business.  In other words, SuccessFactor’s sales team needed to present business cases that demonstrated results beyond helping HR become more efficient and compliant.

To prepare the company for growth, SuccessFactors’ president quickly focused on developing the sales team’s CXO relevancy.


Following a joint needs assessment, we designed a learning plan that blended online and onsite learning, skills application opportunities and corresponding sales performance measurement.  This modular approach enabled us to rapidly architect and deploy a three-part sales training program consisting of a:

  • Self-paced, online pre-work curriculum designed to ready participants for attending a subsequent executive-led workshop.
  • One-day, executive-led workshop modeled around actual accounts and opportunities.
  • Performance measurement framework to comprehensively track and report on the business impact the training generated.

Key program design decisions included:

  • Learning Plan Timeframe.  To minimize time out-of-field and sales disruption, training was chunked down and delivered over a series versus a single event.  The persistent nature of this learn-then-apply rhythm resulted in considerably broader behavioral change and learning efficacy.
  • Real World Relevance.  The learning plan intentionally avoided using case studies in favor of working on actual accounts and opportunities.  This provided for considerably more definitive performance measurement, such as individual seller and account period-over-period improvement, while also directly feeding post-training application plans relevant to seller portfolios.
  • Delivery Perspective.  In contrast to traditional sales training, where a former seller explains their techniques to other sellers, all content and delivery was presented from a buyer’s perspective.  For example, if a customer planned to expand into new markets, participants were challenged to engage in business conversations around SuccessFactors’ ability to quickly integrate acquisitions, or implement staffing models utilizing contingent workers.


Three primary goal-metric pairs were established for quantifying program results:

  • Ready the sales organization to target executive-level customer contacts.  The number of deals won was defined as the key business metric for quantifying this goal.
  • Equip the sales organization to engage in business conversations that provoke customer curiosity to learn more.  The quantity of newly created sales opportunities was defined as the key business metric for quantifying this goal.
  • Elevate the sales organization’s financial acumen to more effectively model the ROI of SuccessFactors’ solutions.  The aggregate value of newly created sales opportunities was defined as the primary business metric for quantifying this goal.

SuccessFactors engaged an independent, third-party statistician to comprehensively track the program’s resulting business outcomes.  Additional steps taken to effectively measure results included:

  • De-seasonalizing pre- and post-training performance to negate the impact of quarterly seasonality (Q4 is a higher sales quarter than Q1).
  • Providing no other sales training to participants during the measurement period to effectively isolate and quantify the impact of this single program.

Post-training performance measurement revealed clear and unmistakable gains including a:

  • 34% improvement in the number of new sales opportunities created
  • 92% improvement in the number of those deals that were won
  • 18% improvement in the dollar value of new sales opportunities created
  • 64% improvement in the value of those deals won

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_single_image image=”13026″ border_color=”grey” img_link_large=”” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]From these numbers we are also able to extrapolate direct positive impact in other areas more difficult to empirically measure.  For example, if closing 18% more deals resulted in generating 64% more revenue, then average deal size also increased.

Additionally, when results were analyzed at even more granular levels, performance improvement proved impressively widespread.  Specifically, both the quantity and the dollar value of new opportunities created were shown to have increased when we isolated measurement to just early stage opportunities as well as just late stage opportunities.

SuccessFactors realized more than $5.4M of seasonally adjusted incremental bookings representing a 2,241% return on investment

Lastly, to supplement the foregoing quantitative data, we also incorporated qualitative interviews with participants to gain deeper insights into the findings from our quantitative analyses and capture results we might have otherwise missed.  From expressing newfound confidence in having C-level business conversations, to managers reporting that their teams are presenting more effective business cases, the program delivered outstanding business results.