Improving Consumption of Sales Enablement Material

Engaging Inside Sales Millennials

By creating a seller-enablement portal to empower its global inside sales team, Microsoft increased the engagement of sellers and consumption of onboarding, enablement, and training content by 74 times among over 1,600 sellers worldwide. Microsoft has a long and storied history of influence in the technology industry and still has aggressive goals to continuously innovate. Never one to rest on his laurels, Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella speaks regularly of the multi-trillion dollar opportunity to capture more of the Cloud-based technology market.

Project Info

UX Design, Development
“One of the best parts about working with UpTop has been how agile [they] have been. The way we operate would drive a lot of people crazy because most people aren't used to working in such a fast pace environment. [UpTop has] been great at adapting to the frequency while never sacrificing quality.”
— Katie Spring, Sr. Business Program Manager

Seizing A Business Opportunity

Seizing a business opportunity of this magnitude requires having the right team in place to introduce Microsoft to a brand-new segment of the market – small- to medium-sized businesses – most of who are unfamiliar with Microsoft and the Cloud. Success requires this team of sellers to create long-term relationships with new customers, building trust, and expanding accounts over time. Focused on rapid innovation, Microsoft hired over 1,600 new inside sales representatives in under 18 months. Most of these sellers were completely new to technology sales, so they required advanced onboarding, training, and sales enablement. Meanwhile, Microsoft did not have an enterprise-wide solution for educating and empowering their team. Nearly every regional office created their very own isolated system for sharing documentation and training their teams. By doing so, it meant relying on “Infopedia,” a learning and delivery cataloging system, and different SharePoint team sites to onboard their teams and keep them up-to-date on product enhancements, pitch decks, cheat sheets, and sales training.

One of the unfortunate results of having this information siloed was that sales reps were not consuming the mass quantities of educational resources produced by Microsoft’s product, marketing, and sales-enablement teams. The Microsoft Inside Sales Team, operating more like a rapid-growth startup within a large enterprise, knew they needed visual design, user experience (UX) design, and lean execution expertise to create a truly user-centric approach to sales enablement. They needed a partner with an excellent track record, and more importantly, one they knew they could trust. In 2012, Microsoft chose UpTop to transform the digital experience of its Partners, completely redesigning the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) Portal. Because of UpTop’s record of success in designing an expansive portal for the Microsoft Partner ecosystem, we were their first choice for tackling this equally complex undertaking.

From Concept to Content Receipt to Deployment

The success of building Microsoft’s Digital Inside Sales Hub, also known as DISH, required adapting to the challenges of a rapidly scaling team. Project management needed to stay agile through each product sprint as the team grew and user feedback was collected and incorporated into the overall strategy of the product design. Perhaps more critically, however, was UpTop’s relentless focus on the user experience. Because the team and its charter were entirely new, it was essential to consistently gather feedback from the sellers themselves to determine feature requirements and improve the usability of the entire platform. Throughout the process of delivering this seller-enablement portal for Microsoft, project management orchestrated strong collaboration between design and development.

From concept and content receipt to deployment, UpTop maintained a lean approach to project execution. The full-stack development team, working on the project, needed to understand the business and design intents quickly without substantial amounts of specifications or red-lines. In perhaps the greatest possible demonstration of “dogfooding”, sellers were using the same Azure Cloud and development platforms they were selling. UpTop’s developers stayed on the cutting-edge of Azure’s product releases and followed right behind Microsoft’s teams in the adoption of new technologies like ASP.NET Core, TypeScript, Power BI, Microsoft Azure SQL, Azure Cognitive Search, and much more.

The Success State

The result is a Digital Inside Sales Hub that can quickly adjust to the ever-evolving needs of the team, transforming their ability to learn about new products, adopt new processes, and deliver an exceptional experience to buyers, all while providing a living example of Microsoft’s latest technologies. Feedback from the sellers has been outstanding. Consumption of sales enablement materials has increased by more than 74 times, ensuring the Microsoft Inside Sales Team is vastly better-informed today than they were two years ago.

The Ongoing Journey Microsoft’s industry dominance is primarily due to their relentless pursuit of excellence, so while a 74-times increase in enablement material consumption is a massive improvement, they are eager to continue improving those numbers. This means tightening, and where possible, shortening, the continuous loop between user feedback and product deployment. UpTop continues to serve as their partner in excellence.

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