Presentation on the Sales Onboarding program that we designed and deliver as a distance learning program. Presentation was delivered at the Technology Assisted Learning Conference in Chicago, May 26, 2010.
Before we get started let me tell you a little bit about my company:Pitney Bowes is a global company. We operate in 130 countries, selling equipment, software and services in the mailstream industry. We have 33,000 employees worldwide.Our 2009 revenue was $5.6 billion.This year we are celebrating our 90th anniversary.Within our US Mailing Sales business we have over 1200 sellers. The onboarding program that I want to talk about today is for newly hired sales reps.
How many of you are involved in Onboarding? How many of you are involved in Onboarding Sales Executives?Well if you are, you recognize the challenges: Introducing new products, solutions and processes, to a highly competitive, traditionally high -turnover workforce. In our US Mailing Sales division our 1200 sellers are in every state, and every time zone: including Alaska and Hawaii. This morning I want to discuss the evolution we have gone through to meet the onboarding needs for this group. I’m sure many of you are going through a similar evolution. Perhaps you are even a few stages ahead of where we are at Pitney Bowes. But some of you may not be as far along in that evolution. If that is the case, then I’d like to share what we have done in the past, what we are doing now, and how it is working for us, so that if you should decide to go down the same road, you might find a few helpful shortcuts.
This is a picture of our beautiful training center in Peachtree City, GA.Prior to 2007, all our sales new hires were sent here for two weeks of initial training. Our approach was to “open the fire hose” and give them as much information as we could before sending them back to their sales territories.It was a very high touch model, but it was also a high turnover model, that was expensive to run.
Our results with this approach were hit or miss depending on the support structure back in the districts. It was especially tough for rural reps.First year turnover exceeded 40% and with the number of reps we were churning through the program our annual costs were about $1.2 million per year.In 2007 we decided replace this model and reduce our onboarding costs.
What we did then was swing the pendulum all the way to the other extreme.We introduced a new program that was mostly self-paced. We wanted to capitalize on advancements in tools used for creating e-learning and the capabilities of our new LMS. The program was mostly e-learning supplemented with a few other activities and webinars.This was the program that was in place when I took over responsibility for the onboarding program. What was happening at that time, was that anytime something new happened in the company, we were being asked to create a new e-learning program and add it to the new hire curriculum. But we never took anything out of the program. It became a monster that took about six months for the new hires to complete.
And while we did save money using this approach, we had a very high abandonment rate.In the analysis we did leading up to the program redesign, we discovered that the average new hire was only completing about 2/3 of the program.Also we had no evidence of anyone actually completing all of the activities.
This slide shows what was happening pretty clearly:The self-paced program was structured in 15 units. This slide shows non-completion rates for each of those units.The shortest bar on the right shows that only 7% of the participants did not fully complete unit 1 – not too bad. The second bar from the right shows that by unit 2 non-completion jumped to 15%, and then to 20% by unit 3.On the far left side of the chart we see that by the end the program we had lost most of our audience. Unit 13 had the highest non-completion rate at 73% followed by unit 15 at 68% and Unit 12 at 62%.And of course, we had important content in these later units that the reps needed to do their jobs effectively.
Here is another look at the issue from the work we did during our analysis.In July of 2008, we looked at new hires who had recently “completed “ the program. What we saw was that none of them had completed 100% of the requirements, only 21% of them completed at least 90% of the program, and on the other end of the spectrum 24% of the people who supposedly completed the program had actually done less than half of the activities. So we asked ourselves, why aren’t people completing the program?
As you can see on this slide we got some interesting answers. Including feedback from a large vocal group who wanted to go back to the 2-week residential program that cost us $1.2 million a year to run. We took this information and translated it into principles that we would use to guide us in redesigning the program.
So let’s look at these principles:Transparency – we recognized that everyone involved in onboarding the new hire had to have easy access to program materials, reporting, and just informally - be able to know what was going on.Accountability – in the self-paced version of the program, participants either completed their activities or they didn’t – either way the results were the same, nothing happened. Clearly we needed to define outcomes and accountability.Contemporary – some of the program content needed updating and repositioning, we also had to make sure we were in synch with the needs of the people we were hiring.Informal learning – we knew it was going to be important to allow people to capture and share what the learned by riding along with experienced reps or what they heard in the office over the cubicle wall.Interactivity – We heard people express a preference for ILT. When we probed further the reason they wanted ILT was because they wanted interaction and engagement. We knew we needed to figure out away to deliver this in the virtual world.
Next.Let’s talk about the technology we use to deliver this program:We set up a SharePoint team site for each class. The entire learning process is managed from here.In addition to SharePoint we use our LMS for e-learning, outlook for calendaring, live meeting and ATT conference calls for the virtual classroom sessions and we use the SharePoint wiki function for collaboration.
Let me give a you brief tour of how this is set up.Inside PB is how we brand our SharePoint team sites. This slide shows the entrance to our Surestart! portal.
Once inside the portal, the new hire sees the welcome page for his/her class. They also see who their success partner is and his/her contact information.
The first thing they are directed to do is go to the general resources link. This contains a folder with weekly activity guides and other documents or tools they might need during the program.
Each class has a link for uploading assignments. Behind this link are folders for each of the nine modules. When participants upload assignments they title the files with the activity number, their last name and first initial and place them in the appropriate folder for each module.The success partners link their class SharePoint sites to their Outlook email. So they can look in their class folder in their email to see who has and hasn’t submitted their assignments yet.
Inside the portal the new hires have a calendar that lays out dates and requirements for the whole class. This calendar has link to show exactly what is due by when – and it can be linked directly to their outlook calendar.
Here is an example of one activity that involves class collaboration.The program participants are instructed to download three examples of proposals from the general resources folder. They review them and provide comments on the strengths and weaknesses of each proposal. As each person adds their input on the collaboration page, they identify themselves by including their initials next to their submission.This activity is then reviewed by the success partner and discussed during the next virtual classroom session. One of the follow up assignments is for each participant to write their own proposal and upload it for the success partner to review before the next virtual class session.
We launched this version of the program in 2009. It is working very well for us.We have had success increasing the activity completion rate. And even though we don’t require it, 52% of our recent graduates have completed 100% of the activities.But the real success story is how this translates into business results. When we examined statistics for people who have been on the job for at least six months after graduation we found that they are outperforming the general rep population in terms of quota expectations. The new hires have a ramp up quota during their first three months, so it is not apples to apples, but it is very positive nonetheless.Our other key measure is cross-sell participation. We want all our reps to balance their business from three key product lines. On this metric, after the six month mark new hires are performing slightly below the general rep population numbers. But the fact that they are in the same ball park is noteworthy. Our solutions business has a longer sell cycle so this metric is positive as well.
That is all I wanted to cover today. Thanks for listening. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have.
when the pendulum swings:converting trials & tribulations into success by using a virtual onboarding program<br />Mike Petersell<br />Director, Management CLP<br />May 26, 2010<br />Every connection is a new opportunity™<br />
global company<br />33,000 employees<br />2009 revenue: $5.6 billion<br />recently launched Connect+™ series<br />1200+ sales force in US Mailing<br />
where we started…<br />residential program<br />“open the fire hose”<br />high touch model<br />high turnover<br />expensive to run<br />
results – the residential program…<br />40% turnover<br />1.2 million program costs<br />
where we went next…<br />welcome to e-learning!<br />enjoy 99 online learning modules<br />anytime! anywhere!<br />
results – self-paced program…<br />66% completion rate<br />zero people at 100%<br />
non-completions from the self-paced program<br />activity completion declined <br />steadily throughout the program<br />8<br />
results from the self-paced program<br />24% of employees completed<br />less than half of the program<br />
why don’t people complete the Surestart! program? <br />“this needs to be done in the classroom”<br />“what is my role in the process as the hiring manager?”<br />accountability<br />interactivity<br />“I didn’t know they weren’t completing it”<br />“some of the modules seemed out of date”<br />“my most valuable learning experience has been talking to experienced reps”<br />contemporary<br />transparency<br />Informal learning<br />10<br />
design principles<br />guidelines during <br />design and delivery<br />
program architecture<br />three-month completion cycle<br />one facilitator for the program<br />17 virtual classroom sessions<br />Unit 1 – Selling and Protecting the Core<br />Module 2<br />Selling and Leasing<br />Mail Finishing Part 1<br />Module 3<br />Selling and Leasing<br />Mail Finishing Part 2<br />Module 1<br />MSM Orientation<br />Unit Test<br />Unit Evaluation<br />Unit 2 – Selling Solutions<br />Module 4<br /> Mail Creation<br />Module 5<br />Tabletop Solutions<br />Module 6<br />Distribution Solutions<br />Unit Test<br />Unit Evaluation<br />Unit 3 – Building Long-term Customer Relationships<br />Module 7<br />Consultative Selling <br />Module 8<br />Partnerships, Strategic Growth Initiatives<br />Module 9<br />Customers and <br />Vertical Markets<br />Unit Test<br />Unit Evaluation<br />Graduation<br />
results from new program<br />6 months after the program, graduates were<br />outperforming the general rep population on quota<br />attainment and close to par on cross-sell participation<br />
thank you for your time and attention<br />every connection is a new opportunity™<br />company website: www.pb.com<br />email: email@example.com<br />linked In: http://www.linkedin.com/in/mpetersell<br />twitter: http://twitter.com/mpetersell<br />Many Ways to Learn (personal blog): http://mwtl.blogspot.com/<br />