After Houston-based asset management firm Salient Partners, L.P. (“Salient”) acquired San Francisco-based Forward Management, LLC (“Forward”) in June 2015, the work was far from over. With the acquisition, Salient almost doubled its headcount and significantly expanded the platform of mutual fund offerings.
While the increase in number of funds and assets provided the firm with the product diversification they sought, it also put pressure on leadership to implement an efficient and effective sales training strategy. To bring the two sales teams together under one company, each sales rep needed to become experts on the expanded product set while maintaining knowledge they gained in prior years. Success would be evidenced by product expertise across the entire portfolio set and a single company culture.
How could Salient meet the needs of the evolved company and individual employees?
In 2016, Salient’s sales team was preparing for their annual sales meeting. Under the leadership of Salient’s President and Chief Strategy Officer, Jeremy Radcliffe, the operational aspects of the Salient and Forward integration had been a smooth process. Equipped with marketing collateral and talking points for each of the funds, the sales reps began to familiarize themselves with the products and each of the typical 10-page pitch decks. To further train employees, sales managers pitched products directly to their employees and the product marketing team explored different sales enablement strategies to get their traditional training methods to stick. The imbalance affected everyone.
Furthermore, clients and prospects who approached Salient expected their relationship manager to be experts on all of the firm’s available investments solutions, with the goal to build smarter, more efficient portfolios. Radcliffe wondered how he could bridge the gap between two legacy sales teams that only had expertise in their previous product lines. With an uneven level of knowledge among the team, Radcliffe knew the solution needed to be personalized. So, he turned to Cerego.
Meeting the demands of remote and mobile workers
Salespeople are competitive — measuring and seeing their progress is important to them — and speed to competence is a key factor in enabling sales teams to be competitive. This is particularly the case in consultative and solution selling. The Cerego personalized learning platform met two core needs of the firm: personalized learning that is effective and efficient for each learner and a mobile solution for their road-warriors.
Like most companies, Salient already had content in various digital and paper formats, but they needed to expand the breadth and depth of their materials. Guided by existing content and design thinking, Cerego’s Learning Design team stepped in to help shape their learning program with sales training in mind. Lengthy, static content was transformed into accessible modules, allowing the sales team to track their progress on individual funds. Images and timelines became interactive components, inviting mobile learners to tactically engage.
But it didn’t stop there. Salient also knew that Cerego was the solution to a broader challenge for its 200 professionals spread across three U.S. offices: unite as one company with one culture.
One company. One culture.
Today, Salient uses Cerego to train the sales team on product and processes, as well as to train new employees on the company’s mission and core values, a decision made by Nicholas Millikan, the Head of Investment Strategy at Salient. Responsible for the development and dissemination of product messaging for the Salient investment platform, Millikan knew that the success of the training and development (T&D) program hinged on its roll out.
Since introducing the platform, Salient employees have adopted Cerego as the way they experience training, across the board. Sales trainees are sold because Cerego was introduced at their Sales training meeting as their primary learning platform and a tool they could use to learn anything, anywhere. Not only do they find it convenient and easy to use, but the group thrives on the feedback they receive about their individual progress at the end of each review session. It’s like having a coach on call.
“Cerego is consistent with our style and culture as an innovative asset management firm.”
- Nicholas Millikan, Director, Head of Investment Strategy, Salient
Other employees engage with content on an even deeper level, writing questions to further their acquisition and retention of the material — a sign of employees taking ownership of what they know and how well they know it. Finally, management uses Cerego to assess and support individuals based on where they are in their learning and this executive buy-in is a key part of the equation. The support of management has elevated engagement and morale. In fact, David Linton, Executive Vice President of Sales, and one of Salient’s executive sponsors is a top learner at the organization, challenging the team to “come and beat me.” It’s a strategy that works.
Culture, competition, and improved sales
Salient’s renewed commitment to T&D is moving them further towards becoming a more efficient company. Management loves the analytics and overview (god-view) that provides them with the insight they need to cultivate and shape a performance across teams. The T&D team has grown as well. After implementing Cerego, they created an advisory council to try the content (from beginner to advanced item sets) and are well on their way to building a masters program.
With longer sales cycles being second-nature to their business, Salient is realistic about future returns on their investment in talent development.
“The immediate improvements in learning are just the beginning for us. We’re committed to continuous learning and Cerego supports long-term training and development. It’s a great alignment.”
- Jeremy Radcliffe, President and Chief Strategy Officer, Salient
Salient is a diversified asset management firm and leading provider of real asset and alternative investment strategies for institutional investors and investment advisors. The firm offers a comprehensive suite of single-asset and multi-asset solutions designed to serve as powerful building blocks for smarter, more efficient portfolios. Strategies are offered in the form of open- and closed-end funds and separately managed accounts.
Salient provides unconventional market insights in its highly acclaimed Epsilon Theory newsletter and blog. Learn more about Salient at www.salientpartners.com and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter. Salient was founded in 2002 and has offices in Houston, San Francisco, and New York.