Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is an educational and trade publisher in the United States. Headquartered in Boston's Back Bay, it publishes textbooks, instructional technology materials, assessments, reference works, and fiction and non-fiction for both young readers and adults. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has a long standing history. In 1832, William Ticknor and James Thomas Fields had gathered an impressive list of writers, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau. The duo formed a close relationship with Riverside Press, a Boston printing company owned by Henry Oscar Houghton. Shortly after, Houghton also founded a publishing company with partner George Mifflin. In 1880, Ticknor and Fields and Houghton and Mifflin merged their operations, combining the literary works of writers with the expertise of a publisher and creating a new partnership named Houghton, Mifflin and Company.
Every company needs new sales to grow. And to find new customers, businesses need their sales teams to be educated and equipped with up-to-date product knowledge and details.
For the Sales Enablement group at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), that was proving to be a challenge. They had approximately 800 sales representatives spread across the United States, supported by online training programs being offered throughout the year. In order to take them, sales personnel were forced to register using Microsoft Excel files that were emailed and updated manually by another member of the HMH staff. The spreadsheets themselves were extremely cumbersome, with hundreds of rows and columns that needed to be filled in one at a time.
This spreadsheet-based system was functional, but it was prone to errors and didn’t represent a valuable use of the Sales Enablement team’s time and resources. Eventually, they turned to GoingClear Interactive for help developing a web app that would automate these tasks which involved two key components which were a third party learning management system's API and having that their system and data talking/syncing with our web app as well as an admin interface for management and sales reps to login, register and pull reports as well. The company was on a tight deadline ahead of its next training initiative, but wanted to work with a firm who would focus on intensive discovery and custom programming with the goal of finding a more efficient solution.
After thorough interviews and detailed planning, our experienced programmers were able to develop a successful web app that removed the need to share spreadsheet files through email. Instead, HMH got a streamlined solution that allowed for users to login, select the courses they needed, and have them automatically scheduled or assigned.
By giving Houghton Mifflin Harcourt a new way to handle sales rep training, we didn’t just eliminate an annoyance; we let their talented employees get back to what they did best – focusing on more exciting, revenue-generating work.