No business merger proceeds perfectly. When one company acquires another, there will be inevitable issues when...
policies and procedures are fused, workforces are combined and technologies mesh.
That's where MindTickle Inc. steps in. MindTickle is a company that helps enable sales learning through Salesforce.
When Symantec acquired Blue Coat Systems in 2016, the newly configured company had to quickly align the sales processes of their respective cybersecurity portfolios. It's one thing to experience merger pains internally, but it becomes something entirely different when salespeople can't confidently speak about what the combined product line will do for customers.
With Blue Coat under its roof, Symantec suddenly had more than 100 cybersecurity products to offer. Blue Coat's calling card was filtering web traffic on corporate networks, while Symantec had a wide range of endpoint, web, cloud, messaging and data protection products.
Salesforce is the common denominator
The companies separately used Salesforce to track sales. After the acquisition, Symantec didn't want to meddle with the ease of use and success that employees had had with that platform, particularly its mobile services, according to Chris Fulmer, Symantec's director of sales enablement.
But with Symantec's sales team ballooning to more than 2,000 people after the acquisition -- a number that reached 3,000 when including account managers -- Fulmer wanted to quickly modernize the company's learning management system. With more products to sell, and market competition only getting tougher, Fulmer wanted sales learning to speed up, and for his salesforce team to understand the new technologies and products faster and easier.
Symantec was no stranger to revamping itself. Since 1993, it had been involved in more than 15 acquisitions and mergers. If there was a time to implement a new sales technology, it seemed as if the integration of Blue Coat employees and services was just as good as any.
Learning management is the challenge
Symantec's learning management systems (LMS) "weren't really tied into Salesforce," Fulmer recalled. "They were different tools, and there was a lot of stuff that we couldn't keep in Salesforce. The LMS we had was heavier, and information was not something we could access quickly. And we definitely couldn't access it on a phone."
Fulmer didn't have to look far for a remedy. Blue Coat's Salesforce team had already used MindTickle, a sales onboarding and coaching platform, for sales learning.
"Symantec's onboarding was ad hoc. They had a lot of classroom sessions, but they didn't meet the expectations of a mobile salesforce," said Ryan Pimlott, a customer success manager at MindTickle.
What Symantec needed -- and what MindTickle aimed to deliver -- was an onboarding system that automated the management of learning, with sales managers able to push out bite-size but memorable lessons and role-playing situations to better train sales staff, Pimlott said.
It apparently took more time for Symantec to select MindTickle than it did to implement the technology. In all, it took two days to integrate the information from Salesforce and for management to decide which tools they wanted to enable.
If anything, Pimlott said, the only hurdle during integration was Symantec moving beyond its old tools. They needed to absorb the abilities of MindTickle, which was more a matter of adjustment, to properly create a launch plan, he said.
It took another four to six weeks to have all 3,000 employees fully using MindTickle for sales learning. The first test on the platform was the introduction of a Symantec security product that rolled out the same week the newly merged sales team first used MindTickle.
Blue Coat salespeople were already familiar with the MindTickle technology, so that put them to the challenge of learning a new product. Sales managers were able to create a five category assessment for Blue Coat employees to prove their knowledge of the new Symantec offering.
Symantec employees learned about the product a few weeks earlier, so they only had to complete a baseline measurement of their knowledge while familiarizing themselves with MindTickle.
Role-playing cuts learning time
With simple content and role-playing exercises making learning manageable and fun, Pimlott said, the onboarding process at Symantec has been cut from 90 days to 60 days. Salespeople are able to articulate the benefits and potential of the Symantec-Blue Coat product and service line, he said.
Whereas Fulmer previously had to introduce a product or explain an industry trend in a long email that he said would probably get buried with other messages, MindTickle enables him to send engaging training content.
"The feedback we get from folks in the field is we have greater communication," Fulmer said. "We have an ability to quickly push out videos to let teams know about the enablement of a product. As for the acquisition, I can track the data to see that they're absorbing all that."
Fulmer said it is tough for him to stamp a hard number on the ROI of MindTickle because a successful sales quarter could have been caused by other factors, such as a trend in the security industry. But MindTickle passes his ROI standard because Symantec's sales learning and enablement process has been reduced to 60 days, and he's seeing salespeople quickly understand products.
"Their confidence," he said, "that's the return on investment."