Oracle Key Sales Lessons

Their words not mine. Here is the announcement.


If you do not want to miss your 4th quarter, read on. Allow me to explain.


In B2B sales, activity leads to results.  The correct time to add sales people is when business is soft.  More sales people means more sales calls.  This means your sales force will be in more deals.  This is how your pipeline gets built.  In a soft economy, close rates will drop due to cautious customers.  To offset this, your company needs to be in more deals.  However, you probably do just the opposite.  You reduce the number of sales reps to cut costs. 


You will have a problem surface when the economy recovers.  Your short-sightedness means you will have to hire quickly and play catch up.  In contrast, forward-looking, courageous companies, like Oracle, hire into the soft economy.  When demand returns, you can capitalize on it, usually catching the competition flat footed.  This results in market share gains.


Why is it taking Oracle too long to ramp the new reps?

Oracle’s onboarding program is based on the waterfall method.  It is slow, sequential, and activity focused.  It should be based on the Agile method.  Agile would make it fast, iterative, and results focused. How do we know this?  We have spoken to several recently hired reps.  We have also spoken to reps who hired on, and left inside of 12 months.  Let’s not beat up Oracle.  Most sales teams are still using yesterday’s onboarding program. Ironically, Oracle’s development team is considered best-in-class using the Agile Development Method to build products.


You don’t want this to happen to you.  If you adopt the Agile method of onboarding, you will get these benefits:


  • New rep ramp time will be cut in half
  • New rep tenure will double
  • The cost to ramp a rep will be reduced a 1/3rd


Are you skeptical you will realize these benefits?

Consider this:  Buyers are buying differently today.  You know this.  You are hiring a new breed of rep and implementing a new sales methodology in response.  This dictates the need for a new onboarding approach.  The approach you need is called Agile OnBoarding.


If you agree, you are asking “what are the deliverables?” of this new process.  There are 12 major deliverables.  Do you have them built?  Use this tool to rank yourself on the Agile vs. Waterfall scorecard.  This tool will save you a ton of time.


12 Agile Onboarding Deliverables

  1. Layered content.  No standalone modules.
  2. 3 levels of content- beginner, intermediate, and advanced.  No topic is covered to completion.
  3. Pre-work issued 4 week before start date.  No waiting for the “next available class”.
  4. Metrics based on capabilities demonstrated.  Learning activities completed is useless.
  5. Training organized in “sprints”.
  6. Start to finish in 13 weeks.
  7. Content is video based.  No printed material.
  8. Frequent quizzes lead to certifications.
  9. The sales manager owns the process and is paid on average ramp time. L&D is a support function, not the owner.
  10. Reps engage with customers day 1.  No incubation period.
  11. Training happens in the field, not in the class room.
  12. The program is gamified.


Building these is a lot of work.  This is a blog post which means I had to summarize.  If you want more information on this go here and here.


Special Notice: Gamifying the onboarding process is producing outstanding results.  My colleague, John Kenney, published a post yesterday dedicated to this subject.  Be sure to check it out here.


Call to Action:

Prospects are taking meetings again. Projects are getting funded.  Your 2014 quota is going up.  You are going to need to hire new sales reps.


Don’t miss your number because of poor onboarding.  Convert your process from waterfall to Agile. Download the Agile Onboarding Scorecard.



Greg Alexander

Leads the firm's focus on the CEO’s role in accelerating revenue growth by getting the product team, the marketing department, and the sales organization into strategic alignment.

Greg is the host of The SBI Podcast, the most listened to sales and marketing podcast on the internet.


He is the host of SBI TV, a monthly television program broadcast on the internet featuring top B2B sales and marketing leader sharing their strategies to grow revenues.


Greg is the Editor-in-Chief of The SBI Magazine, the leading B2B publication focused on sales and marketing effectiveness.


He is the author of two critically acclaimed books Topgrading for Sales and Making the Number.


Greg has authored over 100 articles on SBI’s award winning blog, The SBI Blog.


He graduated from The University of Massachusetts Amherst with a BA in English and received his MBA from Georgia Tech.




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