Launching Mission Control—Reddit’s Guide to Creating a GTM Strategy for your LMS Deployment
February 2, 2021
Ashley Crisostomo’s path to her role as Reddit’s Principal Sales Enablement Program Manager has been anything but traditional. She began her career in marketing, working as a digital brand strategist for media agencies in New York City. Upon moving to the Bay Area, she transitioned into account management—eventually landing a retail partnerships role at Twitter. Two years into the position, she jumped at the opportunity to pivot into a new pursuit—product education training.
“I’ve had the fortunate experience of having been a marketer, then a sales person that sells to marketers, and then an enablement person that teaches sellers,” recounts Ashley. Admittedly a “zigzag way to get to enablement,” but nonetheless, “a great baseline.”
That baseline proved instrumental when she became Reddit’s second enablement hire, tasked with sourcing, launching, and sustaining an LMS to support go-to-market teams. The task forced her to reflect on her own experience as a seller, where—from her perspective at the time—Learning Management Systems seemed to have little-to-no practical value. “It was known on the floor as the thing you take quizzes on,” recalls Ashley.
As she navigated the RFP process for Reddit’s LMS, she relied on her sales experience, constantly pondering “how would sellers like this? How do we make this something that sellers want to use versus something they have to use?”
During the evaluation process, Ashley was searching for a system that would engage sellers and fit the enablement team’s usability requirements. As Ashley learned, “Learning Management Systems can be riddled with complications and too much customization, which gets in the way of the user experience.” For the purposes of her 3-person team, an intuitive interface was non-negotiable. “We’re a small team, so a great UI and UX saves us time and resources,” says Ashley.
Give your LMS deployment a Go-To-Market strategy
Once she landed on WorkRamp, Ashley wasted no time preparing for LMS deployment, in a way that only someone with her unique marketing, sales, and training experience could. In a lot of ways, she approached planning as she would for a product launch in her former life as a marketer.
On the Enablement team, our job is to help our Go-To-Market teams take products to market, and we help them do it excitingly to attract customers. I saw no reason not to give our LMS roll-out that same treatment.”
Establish value quickly
Ashley knew from her prior experience that securing learner engagement is a matter of quickly establishing LMS value. Ashley and her team approached this challenge by anchoring the LMS rollout to a real, flagship program, one in which sales reps were key stakeholders.
In a lot of ways, the timing could not have been more serendipitous for Ashley’s purposes—her team began preparing their LMS rollout about 4 months ahead of a major Reddit rebranding initiative, where sales reps would need to master a new corporate messaging framework. “Logistically, it made sense for us to hang our hat on this initiative for our debut program,” says Ashley. The timing also coincided with the start of 2020, where teams would need to lean into the remote learning capabilities of the LMS to power trainings.
Marrying the LMS rollout to such a major program helped create executive buy-in. Reddit’s re-branding initiative was top of mind for nearly every member of company leadership—from marketing executives to the Head of Sales, who became Ashley’s ally in generating excitement around the rollout of the new LMS, branded internally as ‘Mission Control.’
Design the experience for your learner
In the early stages of gearing up for full LMS deployment, Ashley’s team put much of their time and energy into creating a polished, enticing learner design.
You have to put your best foot forward. Having been a learner, I know that first impressions are everything. I wanted to create a learning experience that people wanted to come back to.”
Ashley learned about the importance of user experience from a mentor at her previous company, who had a background in research. “She taught me about user testing and how to understand learners. I learned that you can build the system to work for the user, but also to encourage behavior change where necessary,” she reflects. “There was also an emphasis on branding the LMS to make it feel like a special experience.”
As Ashley and her team began designing Reddit’s LMS, they interviewed a dozen sellers and potential users across teams—presenting them with real-life scenarios and observing their processes for navigating tools and searching for information. Throughout the interviews, Ashley took careful note of typical behaviors and themes.
- Did users browse for information or use search for key terms?
- Did they search for information by product name or by desired functions?
- Did they gravitate toward certain formats, designs, or colors?
These observations influenced how Ashley and her team developed and organized trainings. They used their learnings to design keyword strategies and SCORM content that would feel like an intuitive learner experience, while also encouraging more efficient learner behaviors.
Ashley’s team also prioritized subtle aspects of design, like color theory, to create a memorable experience. Where pre-recorded content was designated in yellow, on-demand sessions were coded blue. While these visual cues help users navigate the system, they also play a role in creating a professional training experience.
With UX top of mind mind, Ashley was incredibly deliberate about the content included in the initial launch. Working on a team of three, she wanted to dedicate her team’s scarce energy and resources to developing polished and cohesively branded materials. This also served as to not overwhelm learners with back-loaded information, and instead narrow their attention to the rebranding initiative.
Generate and sustain awareness
If there’s one thing that Ashley has taken away from her past experience in marketing, it’s the belief that a strategy to create awareness and sustain interest is critical to any launch—whether for an external product or internal solution. Ashley likens her approach to debuting Mission Control to that of a movie studio preparing for a blockbuster premiere—complete with teasers, promotions, a red-carpet event, and constant trailers. Here’s how she mapped out the launch:
Review, reflect, and iterate
Before launching Mission Control, the sales org looked like a startup within the company—it was running scrappy and lean. Our teams were starving for structured training… When we rolled out the LMS, we heard comments like ‘now we’re a real sales org!’—creating that perception is so powerful. We’ve created a culture where sales teams are excited about learning.”
The results of Mission Control’s first certification program show just how excited the sales team felt about learning. Completion rates reflected 98% participation—and Ashley suspects that the remaining 2% were team members on parental leave. Everyone who passed the rebranding narrative Challenge earned a certification score above 90% at deployment. Moreover, internal NPS increased by 13 points after certification, indicating just how influential learning is on employee morale.
As with any great blockbuster, the story of Mission Control continues far beyond the premiere date. For now, Ashley is heads down creating more learning content. From her user research, she discovered that while tenured sales reps might not hunt for new learning content, they are keen on having a central source of information. She’s working to ensure that Mission Control is a knowledge source that teams can rely on. As her own team grows, they’re also working to expand their learning audience, creating external training materials for their partners—a launch which will surely require a brand new GTM strategy.
Thanks to Ashley Crisostomo for sharing her LMS Launch Strategy with us.
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