American Express 2017-06-28T22:17:29+00:00

Project Description


Large organizations adopt processes for learning in critical business functions even if they don’t intend to. Before they built a learning journey for global sales teams with Oxygen, American Express adopted one that was highly decentralized and inconsistent, driven by regional “tribes.”

There are few brands as valuable as American Express — but the words themselves are a bit of a misnomer, given the company’s sprawling global operations with thousands of employees located outside the United States. Sales leaders at American Express recognized that even though there were uniform, systematic corporate processes in place for learning and knowledge sharing, a highly distributed, localized, unofficial “tribal” knowledge sharing had emerged in the sales function. And this informal learning function came to dictate the sales onboarding process.

So the sales leaders at American Express called Oxygen for help. They asked us to create one standard new hire sales training program that would be globally consistent and allow for regional differences so new hires could accelerate their path to productivity.


To implement more productive learning in sales, we must first learn ourselves. We explore and clarify our top-down view of the overall problem — not necessarily the one articulated by clients. We ask questions about the learning experience to get diverse perspectives from across the sales function. Through this discovery phase we learned that the sales team had no visibility into just how disparate their own programs and content were — they were too close to the problem. By performing a global content audit, and introducing multiple scoring mechanisms, Oxygen and our client was able to objectively define what content and program components were most effective. We were developing a centralized system for consistent, high-quality learning.


The systematic approach and centralized strategy paid off. After all the inventories, audits, and program setup was vetted, the team was now able to define a common design and process for learning in sales group. Equipped with their new methods, and engaged in a collaborative process, the team was able to roll out a global 90-day enablement program that redefined roles in sales, and created global standards for learning content development, including approval criteria. Each of these standards provided common structure for the overall training programs, yet had the flexibility necessary to be suitably localized for regional skills development.

Oxygen overhauled American Express’ learning function in its global sales team. It shifted a focus of new hire training from product and corporate history to real-world sales conversations mapped to specific roles. It took many disparate and disjointed training programs with no clear central design point and unified them around a single, standardized program that focused on sales conversations and success metrics for specific sales roles.  Finally, it took decisions made and programs built in geographical silos and networked them into a common coalition and teaming model for defining global best practices.