Sales transformation. It’s all about people!

18 months ago Hugo Mahoney, Sales and Marketing Director, set about transforming the sales performance of LexisNexis. He needed to build a team that was capable of selling customised solutions, and professional services; this was a major challenge to a very product-oriented sales force.  So he set out on a strategy to hire a great sales team.  LexisNexis customers were also increasingly asking for customised content-based solutions, requiring a consultative selling approach not typically evident in a product sales force.  Mahoney decided that to continue to innovate and lead the market, LexisNexis UK required an upgrade in skills and talent.

The results were a seismic change to the sales and marketing teams which saw a dramatic surge in the sales of new solutions and long term deals, substantial increase in recruitment of women, and significant cut in the attrition rate.

Working with Chemistry, a speciality talent transformation business, they worked through the skills and behaviours required to be successful in this new phase of LexisNexis growth.  They devised an approach that includes psychometric testing, motivational profiling and behaviour interviews designed to distil down to the real top 5% of sales talent.  LexisNexis complemented this with further interviews, and a final interview with Mahoney himself, which included a full selling role play.

But what happened to the existing sales force?  Mahoney replaced over 40%, but managed to retain the top performers through providing more effective reward strategies and career opportunities.   The new, changing culture focuses on personal development and continuous improvement, an environment that has stimulated top performers.

Mahoney is pleased with the results.  Key business indicators such as activity, contract renewals and solution revenues are all up.

The changes have a seen a 350 per cent increase in sales of new services in a year, and a 60 per cent increase in multi year deals over the last two years.

There are also other tangible benefits.  Churn in the sales force has now reduced to 5%; picking the right people, giving them a stimulating work environment, and rewarding success has meant attracting and retaining great people is no longer hard.  In fact, since January 2008, over 95% of offers are accepted, demonstrating that candidates appreciate the thorough hiring process, and have enough knowledge to make an informed decision. 

This meritocratic environment has increased the diversity of the sales team.  In 2007,  recruitment of women candidates was only 28%, but since January 2008, 52.5% of offers have been to women candidates .

To find this quality of candidate, LexisNexis have looked beyond the boundaries of the publishing industry.  In fact, most of the new recruits are from software or professional services backgrounds; people who have a deep understanding of how to sell a customer-centric solution or service.  Mahoney has been able to overcome the “war for talent” by extending the battlefield. 

New starters are up to speed in half the time – usually within six to eight weeks. And the highest performing solutions sales person has been in LexisNexis for just 13 months, proving the success of the hiring process.

About LexisNexis: LexisNexis is the world’s leading supplier of business information solutions, part of the Reed Elselvier group.

About Chemistry: Chemistry is a consulting business that focuses on assessing what great people look like in an organisation and fixing recruitment processes to ensure clients have the best people everywhere.

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