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Help is at Hand for Engaging Your Extended Audience

Roberta Gogos
Jun 24 2021

It is possible to dramatically accelerate sales and bring together your extended audience with engaged learning - you just need the right platform and the right performance strategy

If you’re running sales with a large and distributed field sales team, it’s likely that you’ve got a lot of ‘customers’ across your extended enterprise (or extended audience if that makes more sense to you.) 

As John Leh says in Extended Enterprise Learning 101, these audiences may be channel partners, for value-added resellers, distributors or wholesalers who are part of your organisation’s extended audience. 

Or, they may be your field salespeople who need ongoing, continual education in order to sell as efficiently as possible. They are likely to need accreditation and learning in the flow of work so that they have not just the product knowledge they need, but the answers to any issue that arises when they need it. 

However, the reality is that it’s no easy task being the main point of contact for what can be thousands of sales reps in the extended audience, not to mention the scope and difficulty associated with answering all of their questions. Making sure people are trained on products on time, and consistently across the world can be difficult. That is just the tip of the iceberg, with contract negotiation and other practical sales skills also a factor. 

When the task of engaging, educating and managing the knowledge of any extended audience becomes too big, the potential for lost opportunities and diminishing sales pipeline increases. 

A high-performance learning platform should be your best friend. A fully informed and enthusiastic field sales team that lives and breathes the products it sells is worth its weight in gold. Already got an LMS or several learning systems and still feeling the burn? In this article, we’re going to explain how Fuse is approaching things differently to boost sales performance, all the while helping sales to hit targets faster, and much easier than ever before.

Engaging A 5 Million Strong Extended Audience...Meaningfully

As a company, you might have an LMS. Actually, you might have an LMS in every country or market you operate in. But is your LMS strategy working to engage your extended audience meaningfully? 

Avon is a Fuse customer example we use frequently to illustrate points because of all of its demonstrable metrics - you can’t scoff at a +320% lift in aggregate sales in six months of using Fuse after all! 

But there’s a lot more to it as a case study, particularly from the point of view of how to engage and educate the extended enterprise. In this case, Avon has a vast extended audience, which includes 5 million beauty entrepreneurs spanning 53 markets. 

It’s a great term, ‘beauty entrepreneur.’ It celebrates the strong entrepreneurial spirit these independent sales reps have and the diversity of background and life experience and goals they bring to the table. It’s also very optimistic and reflective of the potential unique, self-motivated selling power they are capable of. 

However, imagine being a senior VP or operational sales person in charge of even one of these markets. Engaging with what is likely tens or hundreds of thousands of beauty reps who never work in-house, and ensuring that they are continually learning about new products and campaigns is no small feat. 

Avon had 11 different Learning Management Systems across 30 countries, which were not helping but hindering business performance. 

Now, if you’ve read one of our previous blogs, Heads of Learning: Consolidate Your Learning Platforms to Increase Engagement, you might be thinking okay, they are going to suggest I consolidate. And you’re right. But in speaking to VPs of Sales or senior field sales management, the pain points we’re appealing to are different, as are the ways in which you’ll experience the benefits of consolidating with a platform like Fuse.

Sales Metrics That Matter, Social Connections That Engage

Whereas a Head of Learning has learning engagement and performance metrics to hit, sales have its own set of metrics. These are usually sales-related revenue targets, including time-to-onboarding. For example, Fuse customer Hilti was able to reduce sales onboarding time from a 15-month sales onboarding process payback period to a three-month payback process with Fuse. 

Sales retention can also be a key metric. If you can’t hold on to salespeople you’ve invested in, churn is really going to start hurting your business. 

Avon Digital Experience Manager Andy Stamps explains this best: 

“We’d identified a 90-day tipping point with retention so we knew we had to create better experiences for our beauty entrepreneurs. Many have 9-5 jobs and childcare responsibilities on top of the work they do for Avon, so it was about making their lives easier by integrating the right learning content at the right touchpoints.”  

So, Avon began engaging with Fuse, decommissioning its old LMS platforms and replacing them with Fuse as one unified platform for learning. Uptake of the platform was immediate. 

But another thing happened spontaneously that really helped sales managers. Through the community of Fuse, beauty reps began to connect.

Think about it this way: ever hosted a party where few people know each other? It’s hard work, isn’t it? You run around filling drinks and making introductions in hopes that your guests will find some common ground so that they can socialise independently of you. 

That’s what happened for Avon’s field sales managers when beauty entrepreneurs began using Fuse. They began to feel a sense of belonging to fit the role in around what is effectively a remote role that fits in around busy lives. They engaged and connected with one another, answering each other’s questions. 

The success was also in no small part down to a complete change in approach to the content driving learning. Avon flipped content on its head, realising that its beauty entrepreneurs need a social and collaborative learning platform where they could learn from each other as well. 

Andy explains this: “There’s a wide range of content available and around 75% of it is user-generated videos or suggestions that gain traction with comments, likes and shares. This resonates in a way our own content doesn’t because it’s one beauty rep passing information to another beauty rep who needs it. That’s a great way to build peer-to-peer trust and it makes for a more engaging learning experience.”

It’s content that’s clearly engaging. The results so far show that 45 of Avon’s 53 markets have been onboarded to Fuse within 16 months, each offering a best-fit, learner-centric experience. The platform now has 700k Avon users worldwide (with 140k engaged users in September 2020 alone.) There are +200 individual learning communities across the platform +1 million pieces of learning content being consumed per month.


Measuring Value in the Extended Enterprise

On the sales specific benchmarks, Avon has seen a 20% retention rate increase amongst those who have engaged with the platform, and, as we previously mentioned, a +320% increase in aggregate sales amongst those who have upped their visits from 1-2 visits a month, to 3-4 now. 

In consolidating platforms, the cost per head for learning has also dramatically decreased. And most importantly? Sales managers are able to oversee truly engaged communities of beauty reps who are helping one another and answering each other’s questions.

If you would like to learn more about Avon’s success in managing learning in its extended audiences, click here to download the case study.

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