Roseland, New Jersey - based ADP has become one of the world's largest providers of business outsourcing solutions, by focusing on more than just the quality of its products and services. The 60-year-old company, which has achieved nearly $9 billion in revenues annually and maintains approximately 570,000 clients, has also invested a great deal in a continuous learning environment for the education of its salesforce.
That investment starts with newly hired sales associates and continues throughout their careers as they become seasoned professionals. This focus on continuous learning ensures that the company's sales training efforts provide the associates with the latest industry best practices and proven sales methodologies.
The old training method was costly and time-consuming
Until 2004, new sales associate training consisted of two weeks of in-person instruction at the company's Atlanta, Georgia, training center, followed by a two-week break, followed by a second two-week stint in Atlanta. This intensive process was effective, but also very expensive in terms of dollars spent and the time associates were away from their customers and families.
Tim Dewey, learning technologist at ES Worldwide Sales Learning & Performance, is responsible for the education of ADP's entire salesforce, from new hires to top sales associates. He pointed out that given the large size of the company's total salesforce, education costs were quite significant and not simply limited to the training of new associates. "We have 7,500 sales associates, so travel, lodging, and lost productivity added up to make continuing education an expensive proposition," he explained.
Blackboard Learn - Angel Edition
In an effort to streamline the training regimen, the decision was made to pilot a distance-learning program. The results of that small, internal test group were so positive that ADP quickly saw the value in launching a full-scale implementation.
A six-month search revealed that Blackboard Learn - Angel Edition offered ADP exactly what it was seeking. "The things that won us over were the cost, intuitive user interface, easy deployment, simple process for creating new content, and the fact that it is web-accessible," Dewey said.
Benefits to the students, instructors, and organization
Benefits of the new learning platform were evident right from the start. Most visibly, the new distance-learning capabilities enabled newly hired associates to spend less time in Atlanta. The on-site portion of their training was ultimately reduced from 4 weeks to only one. And although time in the formal classroom was dramatically reduced, students became engaged in the sales process more quickly, comprehension increased, and retention and grades went up. Furthermore, Dewey pointed out, "They also enjoy the
process more because it is less intrusive in their family lives, and they are more productive right off the bat. It has been a total win for the students and for ADP."
In addition to a better-prepared salesforce, ADP realized substantial cost savings as a result of the new training process. Even after hiring additional instructors, the company saved $1.2 million in hotel and travel expenses the first year. Additional benefits
- $1.5 to $1.6 million in annual savings
- increase in sales productivity for trainees by 60 days
- 12 percent increase in first-year annual sales per salesperson
- time-to-deployment of new content is 10 times faster
The benefits of Blackboard Learn - Angel Edition have extended well beyond the training of new hires. The application has been expanded to every aspect of training for the enterprise sales organization. In fact, it has been deployed in each of the
company's three major business units for developing and implementing customized sales courses.
According to Dewey, the universal deployment of this training methodology has been responsible for other, more subtle improvements. "A single platform keeps the course content consistent no matter who the instructors are, so training is more standardized. And that has a positive impact on employees as they progress through training because everything has a familiar look and approach. That means salespeople can concentrate on bringing in more business, not figuring out how to navigate a training class," he pointed out.
Beyond sales training to sales conferences
In addition to its instructional uses, ADP has leveraged both the community and technological capabilities of the Blackboard Learn - Angel Edition platform. The company staged two virtual sales conferences, providing interactive content for 1,200 attendees. At the same time that travel and lodging expenses and logistics were eliminated, participants were still able to collaborate and network with their peers as they would at a physical event.
Overall, Dewey characterized the company response to the new learning program by saying, "Everyone has seen the power Blackboard Learn - Angel Edition has brought to the table - and it's been fantastic." ADP is using Blackboard Learn - Angel Edition for
- customized business unit sales instruction
- improved trainee productivity
- consistent course content
- faster deployment of new content
- virtual sales conferences
- savings in training expenses.