0 to 1 Product - Training and Coaching Course Overview Page

Blazing Fast Delivery of 0 to 1 Training & Coaching Product

Client: Highspot
Services: Leadership, Project Planning, Information Architecture, High Fidelity Designs, UX Research, Mobile Designs
Timeframe: 10 months


I led a design team to create a new training and coaching platform for sales reps in just 10 months. The final product contributed to just over 20% of the company’s revenue only a year after release.

The platform was designed to help reps learn new skills, stay up-to-date on product knowledge, and develop their sales techniques. The team worked closely with stakeholders and users to understand their needs and pain points. We also conducted user research to identify the best ways to deliver training and coaching content. The result is a platform that is easy to use, engaging, and effective. The platform allows for the creation of native high-impact training materials and increased knowledge retention by engaging reps in training with video practice pitches. 1.5 years following the release to GA, the Training and Coaching product contributed to 20%+ of Highspot’s revenue, almost $17.5mil in revenue.

02. Goal – Build a robust training and coaching product to win customer share from our competitors – and help grow the business.

Secondary goal: Create a training and coaching product that would allow sales reps to train within the tool they already used, increasing their effectiveness in closing deals.

The problem

Sales content, the core of Highspot’s product, was only the starting point. For sales teams to be successful, they needed to be able to onboard quickly, decrease ramp time, and achieve higher quota attainment through training. Adoption with other Learning Management Systems (LMS) is traditionally poor because it’s another product that sales reps have to use. What we needed to do was build an integrated LMS on top of our sales CMS platform.

The team

Product Design Director – player/coach role (me!), 2 Product Designers, 2 Product Managers, Technical Project Manager, 2 Eng Architects, 5 Front End Eng, 2 Back End Eng, 2 QA

The tools I used

Sketch, Invision, Google Docs, Google Sheets

Training Pyramid - Comprehension & Navigation, Assignment & Completion, Assessment, Reinforcement, Impact

03. Discovery – I had to get up to speed, fast, in order to get the languishing project back on track

I missed most of the discovery phase as I was on leave for 5-6 months. As soon as I returned, my manager pulled me in to help with the project which was “totally off the rails.” As soon as I came in, there was intense pressure to deliver in 4-5 months. We didn’t have enough resources, so we reset expectations and agreed on a late-Fall release date.

I had a month of overlap with the designer who had been working on the discovery while I was on leave. There was not much documented from their research process, so she had to walk me through their progress. One thing was clear: to be successful, we had to lean into the fact that the Training and Coaching product was built on top of a CMS. It led to more complexities than a stand-alone LMS, but it would set us apart as a superior option for sales teams’ success and be more likely to be adopted by our users.

04. Planning – Being the design lead at a startup means that sometimes I wear different hats

There was a monumental amount of work to get done in a short amount of time. I knew as the Design Lead that detailing it all out was critical to our planning process, so I created a spreadsheet broken down into get personas/topics.

05. Process – landing foundational elements like IA and pushing for good experiences even though time was tight

We were faced with a challenging situation; we had to start from scratch with a tight timeline, which resulted in a tense, messy process. However, from this experience, I learned a lot. We had to focus on the big picture – the architecture of how the product would fit into the existing CMS base, and how it would make sense within the existing paradigms – and the details. Throughout the process, we held numerous brainstorming meetings involving myself, my designer, the director of PM, and engineering architects.

One critical discussion was about the structure of the training materials. We wanted to have courses and lessons built using our native content-creating tool, Smartpages. The power of Smartpages was that our users could create lessons that pointed to content that existed within Highspot’s CMS – allowing the content to always stay up to date while designing lessons that built context around content. To make this happen, we had to add the new page type “lesson,” a new question block, and the ability to mark content as “required” to complete the lesson.

Image showing the information architecture of the training & coaching product and how we simplified it

Throughout the research process, we realized that long lessons made it challenging for learners to complete the entire course without getting discouraged. To make the experience more inviting, we broke lessons into “bite-size pieces” with “sections.” These sections acted as page breaks, showing only small parts of the lesson at a time.

A red circle with a red x inside

Long lessons were overwhelming for users to consume but convenient for lesson creators that didn’t need to create multiple materials for a single lesson.

A green circle with a green checkmark inside

We broke down lessons into individual sections or modules to make the experience less daunting for learners, but still allowed lesson creators the convenience and efficiency of creating one lesson covering multiple topics.

Another issue we faced was the lack of clarity in the user’s sense of place. This made it challenging for learners to know where they were, resulting in confusion and frustration. To tackle this problem, we made the table of contents for lessons more clear, added “wayfinding” text to our lesson information bar, section labels to the lesson header, and clarified the back button. Not only did we add text to the back arrow that helped users understand where they would go when they clicked on it (“back to lesson,” “go to course”) but we also changed the back stack so that if you were in a piece of required content, hitting back would take you back to the lesson. If you were in a lesson, hitting back would take you back to the course. This concluded the last large architecture decision for the product.

During testing, we found a total of 231 fit & finish bugs that needed to be addressed. I drove the process that allowed us to prioritize which bugs should be worked on first, based on their priority, status, and whether they needed a group discussion before moving forward.

Overall, while the process was challenging, I learned a lot and was able to create a product that would be usable, useful, and engaging to our users.

06. The Final Product – released in just 10 months – was something our customers felt excited to adopt

At our GA release, we celebrated how far we had come over the course of 10 months. It was a lot of effort! Our final product achieved five key capabilities:

  1. Manage and Deliver Sales Training: Build Courses and Lessons with content your reps need to use in the field, without having to get it from another system
  2. Structure Practice and Scale Coaching: Provide reps with the opportunity to practice their pitches prior to the pressure of customer-facing scenarios
  3. Contextualize Learning and Engage Sellers: Put Lessons in context by embedding them in sales plays, or targeting opportunities in your CRM (Customer Relationship Management system)
  4. Analyze Training Performance: Track training progress at the rep, team, and organization level across your business
  5. Demonstrate Training Business Impact: Connect training results to business outcomes with Play Scorecards and deep CRM integrations

Learner Experience

Instructor Experience

07. Results & What’s Next – post-GA release, our product got good adoption and helped to contribute to 20%+ of revenue for the year, totaling to just under $17.5mil; next up was shoring up feature gaps and finishing mobile development

We created experiences for two different personas: learners enrolling and taking training materials, and instructors that created and managed them. Building this product on top of Highspot’s core CMS product led to complexities around permissions and capabilities but it was worth it as a competitive differentiator. The product was a success, and 1.5 years after its release to GA, it contributed to 20%+ of Highspot’s revenue. And our customers were engaged: 2 years after its launch, 63% of Training and Coaching licenses were engaged; >10% of licenses had enrolled in a course within the past 30 days.

There was more work to be done, but we had a foundation to build on. One of the first fast-follow features we added was the ability for learners to use the product on mobile devices. In the following months, we added the ability to import SCORM lessons (a common format for learning materials), added pass/fail statuses to courses, the ability to reset lessons that you didn’t pass, and added a new role – course managers – that could review submissions for their direct reports.

This was a good baseline for the training product and we accomplished a lot through a messy process. I learned a lot about how to move fast by having a clear process. I also learned that it’s hard to move fast if everyone is not on the same page or doesn’t have the same vision to move toward. In the future, I would have insisted on more time and documentation in the discovery phase to help us have a clear picture of where we were headed – and why. Principles and success metrics should also have been created at the beginning rather than along the way.

Creating the Training and Coaching product was a challenging yet exciting accomplishment. It was a significant milestone for our team and for Highspot, and it was worth the effort. I am proud of what we achieved in just 10 months!

Looking to the future – how we continued to improve

One of the necessary constraints for our fast timeline was sticking to our existing design system. Unfortunately, that design system had a dated look and feel. One of the things that I and my design team did was to look at how we could evolve the new Training and Coaching product even further. We refreshed UI, aligning with our design team northstar vision, and improved usability in key areas where we received feedback from our users and customers. The result is a more modern product that delights our users.