This is the first of a series of blog articles about IBM’s Early Professional Seller (EPS) Program — a program designed to develop entry level hires into becoming exemplary sales performers through a series of training, coaching and mentoring, and exposure to high value projects.
Uta Goerlich, IBM Early Professional Seller Program Manager, joined IBM 20 years ago as an early professional in marketing. Her passion has always been around people development, and in the last 10 years, she supported IBM’s sales organizations in growing their expertise aligned with client needs in various roles and regions, and in different work models. She previously worked for the Middle East & Africa region based in Kenya, and now works for the Asia-Pacific region out of Germany.
We interviewed Uta to get insights into the IBM Early Professional Seller program.
What is the Early Professional Seller (EPS) Program?
With the EPS program (known as the “Summit Program” in North America), IBM is supporting the next generation of IBM sellers to have the best start to an amazing career – for themselves, our clients, and IBM.
Over a period of two years, we accompany our professionals on their New Seller Journey – starting in cohorts, the teams learn and work together for the first six months. Together, the cohorts experience their classroom training, such as the well known IBM Global Sales School; and on the job training, for which our new sellers work in what we call apprenticeship projects for different sales units in IBM. These projects allow our EPS to drive client-related tasks, coached by an experienced business unit colleague, with different perspectives on business.
With this, the teams are ready to go into their assigned business units and start with their first sales role. Over the first few months, our young sellers benefit from a sales plan specifically designed for them to focus on making best practices a habit while allowing them to earn based on how they work and what the outcome is – again, closely connected with an experienced IBM seller.
In their second year, they move into a regular sales role, go through their defined 2nd year learning plan and continue to be supported via their cohort advisor as sales and career mentor. It is always special to celebrate that first signed deal, and we have seen some of these moments during the first 6 months while working on their apprenticeship projects.
Can you share with us an example of what practical sales learning looks like?
One of the teams in Singapore worked on helping a new deal signed between IBM and MasterCard around using Watson analytics. The young sellers helped to prepare the pilot for this new offer to SME clients of MasterCard, by identifying suitable pilot participants for the PoC, based on the value proposition of the solution and the potential use case for these pilot clients. In addition, they contributed to refining the solution in its details and presented their ideas back to the IBM MasterCard team.
At the end of the project, our young sellers learned how to do focused research using IBM tools and external tools, understand and articulate value propositions for clients, and how to bring innovative ideas to improve the value delivered to the clients of IBM´s client.
How does the EPS Program speed up sales careers?
To join a corporate giant like IBM is an amazing experience, which can also be overwhelming at times. That is why each cohort is managed and coached by dedicated IBMers with a lot of experience, and a senior IBM sales leader supports the EPS cohorts as career mentor. From the beginning, they guide our young colleagues on how to navigate the IBM world – helping them build their network and reputation, learn from the best, and to have visibility with sales leaders and IBM Executives.
The learning roadmap ensures that a solid foundation is built around selling skills and knowledge around the IBM solutions. Structured feedback and reflection sessions with the program leader ensure that individual needs, talents or ambitions can be addressed on that journey.
Who are these young talents joining the IBM EPS Program?
Through the program, we bring together young professionals with quite different backgrounds – in terms of culture, previous experience, or their field of study. They all have something in common, too: The will to make a difference, the discipline to work hard to achieve their goals and an incredible talent to innovate and drive change. And, I need to add this: They all have a talent to celebrate!
Some join right after college, and some already have up to three years of work experience when they joined IBM. The teams are very diverse, and we have had a team with seven different nationalities. Our young sellers must also be open to moving to other cities or countries to serve our clients where they need us.
Our young sellers bring us freshness, new perspectives, different ways of interacting and doing things, and feedback to continuously improve the way we do things. They will shape the future of IBM, and I am so thankful that I can be part of their journey in becoming IBMers – and building their careers as the next leaders of IBM!
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