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LEADING LEARNING COMPANY ADDS $75M WITH TEAM ACCELERATION TECHNOLOGY

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Drives Additional $75 Million in Revenue with 100% Quota Attainment from New Inside Sales Reps

What happens when sales leaders and recruiting align to build out their best teams? In the case of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt™,100% of their new inside sales representatives met or exceeded quota, contributing to an additional $75 million in revenue in 2014 versus 2013.

HMH® is a global learning company and a leading provider of Pre-K-12 education content, services and technology solutions for students, teachers, parents and lifelong learners.

At HMH, their people are their strength. They actively build and empower talented, diverse and adaptable individuals whose passion for transforming the teaching and learning environment empowers them to effectively meet the dynamic needs of their customers. Their 4,100 employees enjoy an inclusive work environment that fosters creativity.

Business Leaders Push Digital Transformation to Tackle High Cost of Sales Territory Vacancy

Vacancies in any sales force have an enormous, adverse impact on revenue. In the case of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, nearly one-third of the company’s workforce is comprised of sales roles with over 50% being quota carrying.

“There is a definite loss of revenue when a territory isn’t covered,” states Lee Ramsayer, EVP of U.S. Sales at HMH. “Our average rep carries a $3.5-$4 million quota so there is a clear impact and lost opportunity that trickles down across the entire organization when we have vacancies.”

Ramsayer, who joined HMH in mid-2012, immediately saw an opportunity to transform how the company was building an incredibly talented sales team who would meet quota and ultimately drive revenue.

“We were expanding our sales force, including doubling our inside sales team, and knew we needed to make improvements to our overall strategy,” Ramsayer explains. “Our goal was to move sales candidates through the funnel more quickly and efficiently while being able to measure their aptitudes against our most successful reps. We also wanted a process that would allow my team to focus its time and efforts with the most qualified candidates. There’s nothing worse than a sales rep wasting time on a bad candidate when they could be selling!”

Ramsayer also explains the impact of having the wrong hire in a sales role.

“If we have a potential customer choose a competitor over us, it isn’t just an initial impact. That customer typically won’t re-evaluate a solution again for another five years, leaving a residual impact on revenue potential,” says Ramsayer.

Ramsayer partnered with Claudine Trudeau, Director of Talent Acquisition and HMH’s HR team to develop a strategy that included the use of HireVue digital recruiting, along with DDI and Profiles International’s assessment capabilities, to enable the sales team to define and evaluate their top candidates.

Digital transformation is a top C-Suite priority for most companies, with 1 in 4 senior executives rating it “a matter of survival.” Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is embracing innovation and turning it into a competitive advantage. “I welcomed the concept of digital and video into our recruiting process,” comments Ramsayer. “We build digital content ourselves and we needed to mirror that digital ‘fitness’ internally. We want to be able to practice what we preach and decided to begin the recruiting process with digital advantages and techniques.”

Some of the ideal attributes for their sales hires include passion, salesmanship, creativity, a consultative approach, sharp communication, presentation and interpersonal skills, and a breadth of knowledge of their industry.

“Upon being introduced to the concept of digital recruiting, we knew it would be a huge advantage to be able to assess these sales roles though the use of digital video versus profiles and phone screens,” comments Trudeau.

Ramsayer also saw value in being able to assess selling techniques easily.

“I want to know if a sales candidate knows how to make the ask for the sale or if they know how to say ‘no’ when it’s on the line,” Ramsayer explains. “I don’t just want to know what you did. I want you to be able to demonstrate what you did and how you did it.”

“OUR GOAL WAS TO MOVE SALES CANDIDATES THROUGH THE FUNNEL MORE QUICKLY AND EFFICIENTLY WHILE BEING ABLE TO MEASURE THEIR APTITUDES AGAINST OUR MOST SUCCESSFUL REPS. WE ALSO WANTED A PROCESS THAT WOULD ALLOW MY TEAM TO FOCUS ITS TIME AND EFFORTS WITH THE MOST QUALIFIED CANDIDATES. THERE’S NOTHING WORSE THAN A SALES REP WASTING TIME ON A BAD CANDIDATE WHEN THEY COULD BE SELLING!”

- LEE RAMSAYER, EVP OF U.S. SALES

“THERE IS USUALLY A RAMP TIME WITH SALES HIRES, SO TO HAVE 100% OF OUR NEW HIRES HIT OR EXCEED THEIR QUOTA IS REMARKABLE. THE INSIDE SALES TEAM WENT FROM PRODUCING $30-$40 MILLION WITH A TEAM OF 30 TO PRODUCING $110 MILLION WITH A TEAM OF 70 IN ONE YEAR.”

– LEE RAMSAYER, EVP OF U.S. SALES

100% of New Inside Sales Reps Hit Quota, Providing Additional $75 Million in Revenue

An early focus for Ramsayer and his team was to more than double the size of his inside sales team from 30 to 70 reps.

“Using HireVue, along with our other technology investments, we doubled our inside sales team in 2013 and we had a surprising result.Every single new rep made or exceeded their quota,”Ramsayer states.

He continues,“There is usually a ramp time with sales hires, so to have 100% of our new hires hit or exceed their quota is remarkable. The inside sales team went from producing $30-$40 million with a team of 30 to producing $110 million with a team of 70 in one year.”

“The use of on-demand interviews enables us to easily determine those attributes that are so critical in a sales role,” he says. “Our team can gauge their passion, creativity, approach, communication skills and more, allowing us to quickly focus on our best candidates and ultimately contributing to the remarkable success that we had in our inside sales team.”

Sales Turnover Reduced by 60% with Deeper Visibility into Key Attributes

HMH’s digital recruiting methods also help identify an ideal profile for their candidate, contributing to a reduction in turnover by more than 60%.

“Our team developed a fundamental leadership philosophy on what our ideal candidate looks like,” explains Ramsayer. “Now, with HireVue, we can identify these traits earlier on in the process, enabling us to make better hiring decisions and ultimately resulting in less turnover. In 2013 our turnover was 27%, in 2014 it was down to 10% and we may even be in single digits this year.”

Sales Vacancies Filled 50% Faster

With new recruitment solutions in place, the recruiting team was able to eliminate phone screenings leading to a significant reduction in screening time.

“Digital recruiting has kept the process moving more quickly. The average On Demand Interview is completed in just three days. Previously, the average time to reach out, schedule and conduct a phone screen was on average five to seven days, reducing the screening time by an average of 50%,” says Trudeau.

Sales Managers Spend 50% Less Time Interviewing, More Time Selling

HMH’s ability to identify ideal candidates earlier on in the process provided them confidence in the candidates they were flying in for a final interview and found they did not have to bring in as many candidates face to face.

“We are flying in about half of the candidates we were prior to HireVue. We used to bring 3-5 candidates for a final face-to-face interview, and now it has been reduced to 1-2; saving cost, energy, and most importantly, the hiring manager’s time,” Trudeau explains.

Hiring Teams Love Convenience and “Anytime Anywhere” Digital Recruiting

With a dispersed salesforce spread out around the country, Ramsayer says his team appreciates the flexibility of digital recruiting.

“Most of our team is home based so the ability to watch candidate interviews at any time is a huge convenience,” he says. “This is the number one cost and time savings tool that we’ve seen. We’re able to find a candidate, review them immediately and feel comfortable with moving them on in the recruiting process.”

“We truly have 24x7 recruiting with digital. If I have time in the evenings at home, it’s so easy just to pull up my iPad and start reviewing candidates. The entire hiring team has been so impressed with the flexibility and convenience that digital recruiting brings,” adds Trudeau.

“I'VE NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE AND I THOUGHT IT WAS PRETTY COOL! THE PREP TIME WAS GREAT TO PREPARE MY ANSWERS.”

“THIS EXPERIENCE WAS GREAT. I WISH OTHER COMPANIES WOULD UTILIZE THIS SERVICE.”

– CANDIDATE FEEDBACK

Busy Candidates Embrace Digital — Completing 50% of Interviews Outside Business Hours

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is passionate about their candidate experience and tracks their candidate feedback with a Net Promoter Score.

“Our candidates have been overwhelmingly positive about the digital interviewing experience,” says Trudeau. “Our current NPS score is at a 60 which is just a phenomenal score.”

“The candidates have also expressed appreciation that we embrace technology. We are a digital company ourselves and now candidates can see that we don’t just ‘talk the talk’ but we ‘walk the walk’ and we’re innovative with recruitment.”

“Candidates appreciate the convenience that digital interviewing allows as much as we do,” says Trudeau. “Over 50% of our interviews are completed during non-business hours and they are also leveraging mobile capabilities on both iOS and Android devices.”

Advice from HMH

“You have to have a true partnership between the business and human resources. This was a huge collaborative effort that isn’t just about impacting a process — this impacts revenue. Always be open to ideas and be receptive to improving a process to solve problems and have a major impact within your organization,” concludes Ramsayer.

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