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Mar 10, 2010
Case Study

Online Training for In-Store Staff Lifts Sales 14%: 7 Steps

SUMMARY: When customers talk to a sales rep, they want straight answers from a knowledgeable person. The more you can teach salespeople about your products, the better they’ll be able to sell them.

Read how a manufacturer created an online training program to educate retail sales staff about their products -- and how they got them to actually use the training. Sales are up 14% from dealers using the program.

Danielle Record, Online Marketing Manager, D’Addario and Company, and her team did not want to leave customer questions unanswered. The musical instrument accessory manufacturer wanted to convey the finer points of their products to the people most responsible for selling them -- their dealer's on-floor sales reps.

"I think every company’s in the same boat. They can’t talk to every person that’s selling their products," Record says.

The team believed that educating sales reps about D’Addario’s products would help them better sell to customers. They just had to find a way to offer that training and incentivize the reps to take part.


The team built an online video training program to teach vendors about D’Addario products. They tied it to a rewards program that provided gifts to reps who completed lessons and passed quizzes.

Here are the seven steps the team followed to create and implement the training:

Step #1. Get support from the top

Building a training and rewards program required considerable work from multiple departments. Before pushing ahead, make sure you present a clear plan to superiors and ask for their support.

Record had experience managing a training program at a previous employer, and was familiar with a good plan of execution, she says. The experience, no doubt, helped her team sell the idea to executives.

Step #2. Gather product information and training objectives

The team gathered, organized and sifted through product information to distill the highlights of key categories. Vital information included:
o Key features
o Best suited use of product
o Product images

- Talk to other departments

The team also asked product managers and sales people what information they wanted emphasized in the training. This process ensured the program would meet every department’s needs, and that they would not omit key information.

Step #3. Write scripts, outlines and quizzes

The team outlined and scripted a video for each product category they wanted to feature. They organized the scripts into seven major categories, comprising 70 separate videos. Major categories included:
o Bowed string training
o Fretted string training
o Percussion training
o Reeds training

The outlines gave direction during video production and the scripts were later used for voiceovers.

->Tip: Check in again with stakeholders

Go back to your team’s product managers, salespeople and any other stakeholders to ensure that you’re hitting the right points in your outlines. Getting their input at the writing stage is better than getting it after the videos are created. Editing an outline is much easier than recreating a video.

- Create quizzes

As a follow-up to the video segments, the team created multiple choice quizzes that asked fewer than 10 questions on a product’s key points. Hold off on creating quizzes until outlines and scripts have been reviewed by the rest of the team. This will cut back on editing time.

Step #4. Create short training videos

The team created short videos to train reps on certain products. The videos were two to five minutes in length and featured:
o Product
o Text overlay
o Voiceover descriptions
o Other video footage

"We always end the video with top features of the product so that the sales rep who watches it will leave the training really taking in the most critical information," Record says.

The team had a library of archived footage they were able to use for some of the videos, such as a sponsored artist describing or using the product.

Step #5. Build a platform

With the quizzes and videos built, the team needed to create a platform to host them. They created a restricted access training website (see creative samples below) which featured:
o A searchable video catalog
o Short descriptions of videos
o User account information such as courses passed and certificates received

The videos played on a template page that shifted design with the video’s subject. After a video’s completion, users clicked the "next" button to take the quiz in the same player window. If users passed the quiz, a certificate was sent to the "My Certificates" area of their account page, and they received points redeemable at a rewards site.

Step #6. Tie in a rewards program

The team needed to incentivize sales reps to complete the training. They set up a website where reps who passed quizzes could redeem points for rewards, such as:
o Apparel
o MP3 players
o Other music-related equipment

The website included:
o Rewards and their descriptions
o Program rules
o Frequently asked questions
o Link to training website
o Link to brand pages

Reps who logged into the training website and clicked to visit the rewards site would automatically be logged into the rewards system.

Step #7. Announce program to dealers

Lastly, the team had to get the word out to dealers that this program was available and free to use. Here are the tactics they used:

- Email

The team sent an email to promote the training to its dealer database (see creative samples below). It included:
o Images of the training player
o Bulleted explanation of the program
o Button to "sign up today"

- Business cards

The team created business cards on which reps could write their user names and passwords for the training. One side of the card mentioned highlights of the program. The other featured the training program’s logo and a space to write the rep’s information.

The team distributed cards to dealers to give to their floor sales teams, and also to leave in their break areas.

- Single sheets

The team created two one-page descriptions of the program to be sent to dealers. One description was designed for floor salespeople, the other for managers. The team included these sheets with product shipments during the program’s launch, and also handed them to dealers during visits.

- Phone

During the launch, the team mentioned the program to dealers during regular business calls.

- B2B website

The team maintains a restricted access website for dealers. When launching the program, they hosted an image on the site announcing the training and linking to the training website.


"We’re very excited about the training program, and we’re excited to see an increase in sales," Record says.

The team noticed a 14% sales increase among dealers who used the training, compared to those who did not.

About 25% of dealers are using the program, Record says.

- Well-received

"We got a lot of great feedback from users, too," Record says. "A lot of people were happy to get that direct knowledge. I think people are sometimes hesitant to ask a question, or they don’t know who to ask."

- Building vendor loyalty

"Besides learning about our products, I would hope the sales reps that were using it are feeling a bit of loyalty because we’re giving them free products and rewards for the training," Record says.

Useful links related to this article

Creative Samples from D’Addario’s online sales training program

How to Add Widgets to Streamline Lead Generation - 4 Steps & Test Results

D’Addario and Company Online Training

Rewards Program

D’Addario and Company

See Also:

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