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Sales Academy

August 2019, Design @IBM Global Business Service

Unlike traditional online learning platforms, which lack personal connection, and hard-to-see learning impact, CrowdSift Sales Academy connects learning with Career Goal, offers coach service, and helps to track learning & selling performance.

It is Personalized, Interactive, and Transparent.

Project Overview


1 Offering Manager,

1 Product Manager,

1 Developer Lead,

1 Design Manager,

1 UX Designer (Me)


3 Design Sprints

July 9th, 2018 - August 17th, 2018

Design System: 

IBM Carbon 10

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My Role:

I led the UX design and user research of Sales Academy. I worked closely with the whole product team to

  • Designed wireframes and interactive prototypes.

  • Created end-end experience starting from research to hands-off to engineers.

The Problem

When new technology is introduced to the sales industry, sales representatives find it hard to master new sales capabilities. Finding an intuitive method to transform sales specialists' sales force to build critical capacities was critical for our client.

The Problem



Reaching target users:

I helped make a set of interview guides so that our team could collectively perform interviews and contribute to data-gathering. We also gathered information when conducting the co-design workshops with clients.


Co-design Workshop

For the interview, we tried to recruit interviewees with different job titles (Sales Representatives, Sales Manager, Sales Director) to understand how they think from other sales perspectives.

Interview Data.png

Pain Points:

Then we listed the top 3 opportunities/pain points of the users and defined it as our MVP scope:


Sales representatives don’t realize how do learning activities promote their skills & careers.


Sales representatives find it hard to ask for guidance or learning advice when they have questions.


Managers want to know how well does the training influence the selling performance.

Empathize with the User

Based on the research, we identified the 2 main participants in our platform.

We used personas to help us stay anchored on the users and avoid letting our desire for features trump user needs.

Then we visualized user flows to get everyone on board

User flow helped us identify key actions within the academy and the wireframes to focus on first.

We conducted a to-be user flow mapping exercise inside the product team to examine emerging patterns and groupings of activities around digital learning (Leon), digital managing (Sandy). We tried to find innovative ways for users to complete tasks and make sure they would easily fit into their workflows. 

MVP User Flow-min.png
Empathize with the User

Balancing Business Requirements & Technical Constraints into User Flow

Then we conducted playback with the product team, and we wanted to find about how does the cross-functional team think about this?

Team Insight.png

To better solve the problem, we recruited IBM Watson (AI Data Analysis) as well as IBM Comprehend (Online learning center) in this offering. IBM Watson could help us make the learning content more discoverable and personalized. IBM Comprehend could offer us tons of learning resources.

From the design perspective, we updated our design solution based on this business requirement, but we also tried our best to put the user in the center of the process. After balancing business requirements & technical constraints, our new MVP user flow is shown as follows:

Design with Constraints

Ideation & Wireframing Solutions

Brainstorming ideas via Mural

Using the flow and system map, we conducted a series of brainstorming sessions to come up with feasible ideas and methods that could potentially improve the current way of digital learning (Leon) and digital managing (Sandy).


Wireframing the solution

We selected key features with the Offering Manager and quickly created some basic wireframes to gather feedback from PM, developers, and our clients on the overall layout and information architecture.

Tracking dashboard for sales manager - Sandy:

Leon - lowfi.png

Learning experience for sales associate - Leon:

Sandy - lowfi.png
Ideation & Wireframing

Key Design Decisions

Challenge 1: How to link learning activities with skills & careers?

Skills gap

To link the learning activities with skills, the system need to find out their sales competencies at first. So sales representatives need to do an assessment to help the system understand the skills gap.

How to visualize the data of assessment results?

  • Simplicity: Is it easy for Leon to understand the result?

  • Affordance: Could Leon understand what it means?

  • Consistency


Challenge 2: How to offer guidance & learning advice?

Finding career coaches

Sales Representatives could ask for suggestions from career coaches, search for the skill they want to learn, and schedule a meeting with the coach who suits them best. 

How to help users find the ideal coach?

  • Ease: Could Leon find ideal coaches efficiently?

  • Structure: Does the content match Leon’s mental model?

  • Consistence

Provide Guidance_1-min.png

Challenge 3: How to link learning outcomes with selling performance?

Monitors learning against performance

For the sales manager, we designed the page for them to view the sales’ learning performance as well as their sales data. And we want to show the managers whether the learning recourse is beneficial to the sales data or not?

How to show the impact of learning resources?

  • Effectiveness: Does it solve Sandy’s problem?

  • Perceptibility: Does it show Sandy what is going on?

  • Consistency

Monitors learning against performance_1-min.png
Key Design Decisions

Validate Solution

How does the client think about our solution?

We conducted the playback to our clients about our final solution. We were open to hearing some feedback from the clients’ perspectives.

What does our client say?

- “I think the flow of tracking learning activities of this Sales Academy could be aligned with our way to work well.”

- “We are surprised by the entry point = dashboard. Because the dashboard does contain some KPI I want to track when we conduct training now, there no way I could find it yet.”

Validate Solution


Empathize with your stakeholders.

Each stakeholder has a different perspective based on their experience. As a UX designer, I should advocate for user needs and make sure that stakeholders also have their needs addressed. And the best way to convince others is to see things from their point of view.

Make order out of chaos.

During this project, I experienced many situations where I didn’t know what features we needed. As a designer, I should take charge and talk to different team members to bring all the missing pieces together.

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