Distance learning for a salesforce gets a lift by saving on
cost and time.
Roseland, New Jerseybased ADP has become one of the worlds 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
companys sales training efforts provide the associates with the
latest industry best practices and proven sales methodologies.
The old training method was costly and
Until 2004, new sales associate training consisted of two weeks of
in-person instruction at the companys 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 ADPs entire
salesforce, from new hires to top sales associates. He pointed out
that given the large size of the companys 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 LearnAngel 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 LearnAngel 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
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 have included
- $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 LearnAngel 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 companys three major
business units for developing and implementing customized sales
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
LearnAngel 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
LearnAngel Edition has brought to the tableand its been fantastic.
ADP is using Blackboard LearnAngel 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.