Building a Great Distributed Workforce Culture in Direct Selling
Training that Leads to Sales Growth
Sales growth isn’t magic. It’s the direct result of an organized and well-balanced system comprised of the right people with the right focus who are fully engaged in their work. Studies have shown that salespeople are most engaged when they are conducting core activities, such as talking to prospects or running a presentation. But when it comes to doing administrative tasks, well, that is where motivation and drive disappear.
Keeping sales representatives plugged into an organization is critical to a business. Low sales rep engagement is a leading indicator of sales rep turnover – a very expensive problem. Besides that, customers are directly influenced by the sales representatives’ attitudes. A poor experience with a sales rep will taint the customer’s overall buying experience for a long time.
To put this in perspective, let’s refer to some research findings:
- According to CEB Global data, up to 80% of senior leaders believe that workforce engagement is a core aspect of achieving any business goal;
- Companies with high engagement levels are more profitable (22%), and their workforce is generally more productive (20%);
- One of the Gallup surveys shows that the presence of engaged supervisors leads to an increase of approximately 50% in their workforce’s engagement;
- Another Gallup report indicates that disengagement comes at a high cost; the US loses up to $550 billion per year due to disengaged workforce;
- Aon Hewitt research shows that workforce engagement is the main factor leading to increased revenue and companies achieving their business objectives much faster. In fact, for each 1% increase in workforce training engagement, companies receive a 0.6% growth in sales.
Many times customers have direct contact only with a company’s sales representatives. Consequently, the quality of the services rendered by the sales people equals the customer’s overall impression of the company. Thus, if a sales representative is unmotivated and disengaged, he or she will not give anything more than just “fine by me” service. There’s no need to be as wise as Solomon to derive the equation: if sales representatives or distributors feel engaged, motivated and appreciated, then the customers will also have a positive attitude towards the company.
A question arises: what can be done to increase a company’s workforce engagement? Of course, there is a wide range of incentives including bonuses, cash rewards, discounts on company products, and so on. But that’s not all.
Just-in-time training (JITT) plays an important role in keeping your workforce engaged and motivated. Knowledge, skills, and experience are key factors that make any person an asset. It’s unlikely that sales representatives would prefer not to develop their skills or gain prompts and methods for a more effective and easier way to do their jobs.
Does learning mean reading piles of boring manuals to you? Or is it about attending hours or days of courses? Learning theory without putting it into practice and feeling that you are wasting your time, and constantly asking yourself, “what’s the point of this?” All of those attitudes were popular with old, outdated learning practices.
Many training methods don’t apply the theory in a hands-on way to real-life problems. When a person has a gap between absorbing new information and implementing that new knowledge, it usually leads to losing the newly-learned information and “skill anchoring”. The most important thing about learning new information is what you do with the knowledge afterward.
Just-in-time training allows to apply a new piece of knowledge right away. It is based on smart training technologies and uses people analytics about who needs what kind of customized training, and when they need it. Today JITT should be regarded as a necessity. In other words, this “smart training” should provide a workforce with the information they need, when they need it. JITT resources are concise, convenient, and aimed at helping workforce to achieve specific objectives.
How just-in-time training drives sales growth
When people are confronted with a definite knowledge gap in their work or profession, they are willing to study. According to Deloitte’s findings, remote or distributed workers allocate less than 1% of their working time, per week, to training. This is why they need to have access to just-in-time information. JITT is highly relevant and makes the learning process enjoyable. The newly learned information can be applied at a moment’s notice, and easily optimized for long-term memory. This fact is explained by human psychology: theory supported by straightforward practice makes perfect.
Let’s see how this “smart training” increased the distributors’ engagement in a direct selling company pawTree. pawTree uses an interesting approach in its operations: its sales representatives are pet owners who sell pawTree goods because they love them. One of the problems the company had to deal with was that the majority of people had never been involved in direct sales before. By using gamification, microlearning, and JITT pawTree increased engagement of its distributors by more than three times the standard for the direct selling industry. This increase in the sales reps’ effectiveness took only 15 days of introductory training.
The company’s existing training material was divided into tiny blocks of information. To be more precise, the training course contained 51 training tasks with the projected completion time of seven minutes per task, on average. As a result, all the tasks were successfully completed by more than 90% of the workforce. Since pawTree sales distributors are volunteers by nature, the company didn’t expect them to consider their job to be full-time. However, the results show that over 70% of the company’s sale distributors were engaged in the work process.
pawTree’s success in boosting their volunteer sales distributors’ engagement levels can be attributed to the following factors:
- Clear and concise training tasks were much more effective than manuals since the distributors could start applying newly obtained skills right away. They treated this training as a path to success.
- Training was done in such an easy and fun way that it didn’t even seem like “training”. At least, not in the way people usually define this word.
- Tasks that took only 5-7 minutes to complete allowed the sales representatives to manage their time better and perform tasks at their own pace.
- There was no stress. If the sales reps knew that they needed to learn a lot of new information and their time was limited, they would have become tense, which in turn would have made it harder to keep their focus on the performance.
We live in an age where everything needs to be solved within the shortest possible time, and often on the go. This is why training needs to be modified to fit modern workforce’s needs. JITT has become the go-to solution for fast-growing businesses such as pawTree since it delivers effective training that engages the trainees by delivering information at the right time and place.
If you want to learn more about the pawTree success story, click here to download the case study with more details and subscribe to our blog below to learn more about smart training.
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