Successfully aligning learning platforms with demonstrable and successful business outcomes isn’t the best kept secret of the corporate world - trust me, there’s proof that it works, and you don’t have to look very hard.
Take Panasonic, for example. In introducing the Fuse learning development platform across its Customer Care call centre agents, agents went from having volumes of written instruction to refer to when helping customers, to concise digital help videos to help them provide optimised customer service.
Not only did it mean that agents were able to resolve customer queries faster and more effectively, but it also led to an increase of 33% Net Promoter Score points (a customer service metric that tracks customer loyalty to a specific brand or service) as well as an increase in staff retention amongst Customer Care agents by 26%.
These are impressive metrics that will no doubt continue to build on this initial improvement over time, but they are by no means the only measurable business outcomes we are seeing amongst Fuse customers. In this post, we’re going to tell you how Fuse customers are seeing engaged learning accelerate sales like never before, combining great leadership and the power of tacit knowledge and peer-to-peer trust to empower the sales pipeline like never before.
Vodafone and Avon Smash Sales Targets
When Vodafone first introduced the Fuse learning and development platform in the UK, its line managers actively supported their learners within a new sales enablement methodology, coaching and observing their practice and application of what had been learnt. Those sales teams whose managers were actively engaged performed on average 10% better on key store performance metrics than those teams whose manager was not actively engaged with their own learning.
Avon has smashed sales targets with engaged learning as well. The company is the second largest direct-selling enterprise in the world (after Amway.) Using the Fuse learning platform, known internally as Fuse Connect, Avon encourages its beauty representatives to continually learn about new products and campaigns in order to help drive business performance.
It’s fair to say that Avon hasn’t had a problem with getting beauty reps involved. Check out these key stats:
45 of Avon’s 53 markets onboarded within 16 months, each offering a best-fit, learner-centric experience
700k users worldwide (140k engaged users in September 2020 alone)
+200 individual learning communities across Avon Connect
+1 million pieces of learning content per month (75% of which is user generated)
However, there are also some killer business outcomes. The company found that there was a 20% retention increase amongst those beauty reps that engaged with Avon Connect.
Digging deeper into the data, the Avon team went on to look into both frequency of visits to the platform and interaction with it. It was determined thateven an incremental increase in monthly visits to Connect - the difference between low frequency (1 to 2 visits per month) and medium frequency (3 to 4 visits per month) - had created dramatic uplifts of +320% in aggregate sales over a 6 month period.
Demonstrable business outcome indeed! Read more in the Avon Case Study below!
How Did You Do That?
We all love killer sales stats, but the fact is that the stats don’t reveal the ‘how’ behind what engaged learning is actually doing here.
When it comes to how learning is helping sales, it helps to look at the volume of products and services sales people are dealing with today. A Vodafone sales person doesn’t just have to understand the features of the new iPhone 12 - they have to be able to explain the ins and outs of 5G, PAYG, SIM Card only deals, Android versus Apple, and the allure of unlimited plans.
Avon beauty representatives do not have it any easier. The company’s cosmetic product lines are constantly revamped, and it is also a fashion, jewellery and home accessory retailer.
There’s a lot to learn when it comes to keeping on top of product knowledge, and if companies can’t create continuous, engaged learning, what hope do employees have in getting the right message across to prospective buyers?
In 2017, SiriusDecisions gathered sales interaction data from a panel of consumers across industries, enterprise sizes and roles. Its research showed that the number one inhibitor to sales' achieving quota was the inability to communicate value to decision makers. What's more, it revealed that 5 of the top 10 inhibitors to sales revenue growth were not product related — they were message related.
How can you communicate value and get the right message across when you haven’t been engaged with learning about products and services in the first place?
Part of the answer here is the nature of engaged learning itself, which is very different to quarterly or annual or even one-off training courses. Through highly relevant, continuous and concise learning, Fuse platform users are getting the message, and they are relaying it to prospects. On Avon Connect, 75% of the content available to teach beauty reps is user generated videos or suggestions. It resonates in a way that the company’s corporate content does not, because it’s one beauty rep passing information to another, creating an engaging learning experience that is obviously driving some truly impressive business outcomes.
So if your L&D department is still rolling out old style or course-centric only training, ask yourself: is it really resonating, and is it going to drive engagement and empower sales?
Leading by Example Really Sells
When it comes to sales, we’ve seen some big upticks, but perhaps equally impressive is the impact of leadership-led influence in this example. Vodafone’s 10% sales key metrics increase was largely down to the new sales enablement methodology and coaching led by line managers when the Fuse platform was first brought in.
At Fuse, we’ve seen this time and again over the years. Leadership and line management have a significant impact on enabling an organisational culture that aligns ongoing active engagement in learning. They are the catalysts to organic learning development, and in Vodafone’s case, the firestarters to an effective and engaged learning culture.
Learning: Earning a Place in Sales Strategy
When it comes to the different dimensions of sales strategies and the way they enhance sales performance, learning may not have been an obvious contender for accelerating business development, but as our examples show, it is rightfully earning its place in sales strategy.
So, what should you do if you want learning to help you smash sales targets?
Create a culture and foundation for engaged learning. Many L&D departments measure the value of learning against the number of employees trained, the number of courses taken and how many people have been certified as “skilled” having taken those courses. Measuring the development of people in this way is irrelevant, as it does not adequately indicate or connect to business value.
Understand the value of tacit knowledge within your organisation, and encourage your people to share that knowledge. They also need a way to produce content, so give them the technology to do it.
Encourage a culture of continuous learning. Avon’s beauty reps increased use of Avon Connect shows the power of a platform that keeps people coming back for more.
Encourage leaders to lead by example: when leaders show how much they value learning, others will follow suit and feel comfortable in engaging in continuous learning.