Driving business performance through continuous learning

Have you ever wondered what it looks like when a learning culture helps increase business value and if it really works? This case story will give you the answer – and the data behind the success. It’s a story about driving business performance through continuous learning habits. It’s also the story about how course completion is not the only measure of success. As a matter of fact, how users engage with learning content plays a significant role. It’s a brilliant example of how focusing on facilitating continuous learning habits is beneficial for business.

Increasing business value through learning

The social selling beauty company, Avon, had two overall business objectives. They wanted to increase their revenue through an increase in average order value. Furthermore, they wanted to increase the retention of beauty entrepreneurs, which means sales representatives who start their own businesses. They wanted to do so by re-thinking how users learn and interact with learning content.

Successful learning content strategy and sponsorship

First and foremost, Avon wanted to implement a modern learning approach. They started their journey in May 2018 with 11 different learning systems distributing traditional, formal SCORM courses. 16 months later, Avon is now using one system, the next generation learning platform from Fuse Universal. The platform, Avon Connect, now has 700 000 users in 44 countries, and provides each user with their own individual learning experience.

With Avon Connect, Avon could realize their content strategy as an important foundation for a successful learning culture. Their content strategy focused on:

  1. Searchable and bite-sized content
  2. Possibility to discover new content
  3. Easy access to mandatory training

With this focus, they wanted to cater for all types of learner needs and motivation for training and education.

The content strategy for driving business performance through continuous learning habits

Another important foundation for success was the “top sponsorship” at Avon. The CEO and CIO actively encouraged and supported the learning initiative by being visibly present on the platform.

Learning in the flow of life

When looking at the user data, Avon found that learners tended to re-visit the content several times. This indicates that the sales representatives use the content when they need it, or as Avon’s Andy Stamps puts it; they are learning “in the flow of life”. The sales representatives have easy access to information that will help them sell. They can access the learning content on the go, or in between other activities. This possibility is a perfect fit for the Avon users. The sales representatives are not employed by Avon. Instead, they might work as Avon sales representatives as a supplement to other jobs.

Does formal training make a difference?

“Yes!” is the short answer, and the data at Avon proves it. Formal training makes a difference. However, and this is where this case story becomes even more interesting; formal training is not the only learning culture element that affects revenue and drives business performance.

Over a 90-day period, Avon monitored and compared the performance of two groups of representatives who were new to Avon. One group completed training through Avon Connect, and the other group did not. During this period, the group of representatives who engaged and completed training had a 6% higher order value. Moreover, this group’s retention increase was 20%. This obvious success was a sign that yes, training will help learners sell more products. Furthermore, the possibility to learn will make them want to stay with the company.

Avon dug deeper than that. They found that there were users who did not complete courses, but who nevertheless engaged a lot with the learning content on the platform – both formal and informal training. So how were these learners using the system and what were the consequences?

Continuous learning habits are key to business performance

When Avon took a closer look at the data, they found something even more interesting. The users who logged in frequently and interacted to a higher degree with the content, without necessarily completing courses, stood out. These users had a substantially higher sales revenue. Furthermore, the data suggested that when users started engaging even more, the aggregate sales value went up. This really important finding surprised Avon. It also contributed to a change in thinking when it comes to learning. Now, Avon focuses a lot on what to do to develop the continuous learning behaviour among their users.

”It doesn’t seem to be the amount of interaction and consumption that I do when I come to visit, but it’s the frequency and the continuous learning habit and behaviour they’re creating that drives the increase in business performance.” Andy Stamps, Avon

Driving business performance through continuous learning habits: Aggregate sales value over first 6 months

The model above illustrates the aggregate sales value over the first 6 months of data. The categories Low, Medium and High indicate the frequency of user log ins over a 6-month period.

The importance of sales leadership in continuous learning

Another important finding is the importance of sales leadership in the development of a continuous learning culture. In markets where sales leaders, sales managers and division managers ensured a thorough adoption of Avon Connect, the sales representatives showed a clearly high engagement.

Avon sales leaders thus play an important role in developing a continuous learning culture. They have created almost half of the content on Avon Connect. As Andy Stamp, underlines: When the content is created by sales leaders, the sales representatives appreciate and trust it as coming from a reliable source, someone who is either doing the same job as them or has done it previously.

Watch the webinar about Avon’s success

This article is a summary of a webinar led by Steve Dineen, president of Fuse Universal. In the webinar, Steve talks with Andy Stamps, Avon’s Global Digital Experience Designer, about the important findings in user data. Watch the webinar on demand and hear more about the interesting data and findings at Avon.

How Cosmetics Giant Avon Increased Business Value Through a Culture of Learning

Want to know more about the Fuse platform? Read more about our partnership with Fuse Universal here.