ADP – “Selling The ADPway” To Focus on Buyers’ Processes


ADP has provided automated data systems for processing payroll and benefits for large and small organizations globally since 1947. In 2010, this $6-billion organization initiated a company-wide change for its 5,000 employees.

The Business Need

An organizational restructure prompted ADP’s leadership to think about the way they were selling. Leadership determined that sales people should be more innovative in the selling process itself. They realized that the focus should be more on ADP’s own results.

For the first time, ADP would have a process that would get everyone in the worldwide sales organization using the same process, aligned to the buyers’ processes. To do that, ADP formed a sales operations unit as support. The major change was creating a central organization; previously, each of 10 business units had its own training department.

The Solution

ADP worked with Root to drive this new process and creating understanding of how it worked. A character-driven PowerPoint deck introduced the concept, with “Neil” as a central character who would appear throughout the learning. After creating the new sales process, the next stage was to package “Selling the ADPway” to the organization in an interactive way. People needed to understand what the changes meant to them personally, in terms of learning new skills, and to their buyers.

After ADP’s annual sales conference, the planning team spent time at Root headquarters, and with Root’s partner APG, crafted a multi-step solution that became the “ADPway” – a blended, holistic set of deliverables. ADP’s sales force runs the gamut from recent college graduates to those who work with major companies. To sell in the same way, learning needed to be accessible to everyone. This was the first initiative of the new sales ops unit. This needed to be done in a way that established credibility to design and deliver global initiatives that met the needs of every sales associate.


The ambassador for internal marketing, “Neil” was an ADP salesperson who found success with the new process. A four-minute Flash email was produced in multiple languages, where employees could select their sales leaders (drawn as cartoons), watch a video from the Senior Vice President, and download a “magazine article” about Neil and his adventures.

A series of eLearning modules, customized by business unit, provided an overview of the new sales process. Root and ADP created 14 modules, 10 specific to business units, and the rest universal. All modules were translated six languages.

The next step was in-person experiential learning designed as a four-hour workshop to deliver these components:

  • For leaders, “Coaching to ACT” (A = Accelerate results; C = Create change; T= Take action), for leaders to cascade to their teams.
  • A Root Learning Map® module that explained why the change was being enacted.
  • Group solutions for “stalled deals” that each person brought to the training.
  • A workbook to diagnose where deals stall and make an action plan to re ACT-ivate it. The workbook offered activities to reinforce the lessons that were accessible to sales leaders whenever they needed them.
  • The entire program was housed on our system, including the entire curriculum, showing step by step where to go, what they should do, and where to post results.

Implementation began in October 2010 and concluded at the end of the year. Workshops were held for intact teams, for sales teams, for a combination of leaders and ES people, and other variations. In that short time, 4,500 people participated.


Leaders at ADP believe that this initiative worked so well it paired an emotional connection with practical utility. Another reason for its success was the creation of reinforcement tools to help salespeople cascade and sustain the learning as not just a “workshop deal,” but about continuing success. The materials were designed to live on beyond the workshop, so sales leaders could use it with teams, whenever they wanted, to prevent stalled deals.

As a result, ADP changed its selling process to become a leader and innovator. “Our results were amazing,” said an ADP senior leader. “Within one month of the initial training, of the 5,500 stalled deals brought to the training session, one was closed within a half hour and 250 within a month.” Within months, ADP reported that they added millions to its global pipeline, with those results directly tied only to the “one stalled deal” that people brought to the workshop.

Opt-In For Root Emails

Get the best insights and stories delivered to your inbox.
Add your email address