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Pepsi-Cola Bottler Training

Best Practices in Industry-Specific, Job-Focused E-Learning that Drives High Return in Field Sales

Heidi Spirgi © Bersin & Associates January, 2005

Pepsi-Cola Bottlers Deploy Innovative E-Learning Solution for Field Training

Table of Contents
Table of Contents ............................................................................................................................. 2 Table of Figures ................................................................................................................................. 2 Overview ............................................................................................................................................ 3 Pepsi-Cola Bottling Challenges....................................................................................................... 3 A Unique Industry-Focused Solution ............................................................................................ 4 Case Studies ....................................................................................................................................... 6 Ab-Tex Bottling............................................................................................................................. 6 Continuous Testing Process .................................................................................................. 7 Training Linked to Performance Planning and Compensation........................................ 8 Cost Savings and Productivity Gains.................................................................................... 8 Brown Bottling .............................................................................................................................. 9 Industry-Specific, Relevant Content ..................................................................................... 9 Engaging use of Video: The Instructor is the Teacher ..................................................... 9 Keeping Video Short and Interactive ................................................................................. 10 Video Designed for Use in Meetings.................................................................................. 11 Tremendous Impact on Sales Revenue.............................................................................. 11 Increased Customer Service by Improving Field Confidence....................................... 11 Springfield Pepsi .......................................................................................................................... 12 Innovative Approach to Video Production....................................................................... 12 Curriculum Used Weekly to Drive Focus on Service.................................................... 13 Task-Oriented Instruction ................................................................................................... 14 Bottom Line...................................................................................................................................... 14 About Us........................................................................................................................................... 16 About This Research ...................................................................................................................... 16

Table of Figures
Figure 1: Figure 2: Figure 3: Figure 4: Figure 5: Figure 6: Sample Job Aids - Sales Call Reports.......................................................................... 4 Pepsi-Cola Bottler Subscribers in North America .................................................. 5 Five Modes of Multi-Purpose Learning...................................................................... 7 Screenshot of Pepsi-Cola Bottler Campus, ej4 Media Player, and Course ...... 10 Brown Bottle Revenue Growth as Training was Deployed................................. 11 Closeup of Paul Russell Video Course ..................................................................... 13

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Pepsi-Cola Bottlers Deploy Innovative E-Learning Solution for Field Training

Overview
Distribution companies face the challenge of delivering timely, interesting, field-oriented training to personnel at low cost. This case study describes how Pepsi bottlers use an innovative, creative, high-value, low-cost e-learning solution based on video to provide job-relevant information to a wide range of field employees. It describes how you can use Flash-based video in a compelling and easy-to-develop approach using innovative techniques. It describes how the instructional-design framework, learning methodology, and the deep expertise of the presenter work in combination to grab viewers, engaging their interest and thus creating a meaningful learning experience. It also describes a unique business model used by eJ4, a vertically-focused content developer, to address the broad needs of a large network of Pepsi bottlers.

Pepsi-Cola Bottling Challenges
The Pepsi-Cola bottling industry faces fierce competition for retailer mindshare and space. Margins are tight and product SKU’s are proliferating in a variety of categories. To maintain shelf-space and grow market share among many beverage competitors, Pepsi uses innovative marketing campaigns and seasonal products such as the holiday drink “Pepsi Spice” to drive revenue. Pepsi bottlers, as the direct sales channel for Pepsi-Cola, need to be equipped with the latest information on promotions, products, and strategy to effectively sell into this competitive market. Since the content is volatile and turnover is high, the training needs are continuous and ongoing. In addition to these challenges Pepsi bottlers have a highly distributed workforce which may spend most of its time on the road. As with any product sales force, time spent in instructor-led training is very costly (travel and training delivery costs) and significantly reduces productive “selling” time. With the low margins and constant state of change inherent to the retail industry, Pepsi bottlers need an e-learning solution that is rapidly developed, can easily be deployed to learners on the road, and can be updated and refreshed regularly at low cost. Moreover, Pepsi personnel are not computer experts. The training solution must be simple to use, interesting, and very relevant to their jobs.

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Pepsi-Cola Bottlers Deploy Innovative E-Learning Solution for Field Training

A Unique Industry-Focused Solution
Industry-focused solutions require industry expertise. Two seasoned training consultants, Paul Russell and Ken Cooper, set out to solve this problem by starting an elearning company, eJ4. eJ4’s solution was to build a general purpose “virtual campus” capability and first focus it on the ongoing training needs of Pepsi-Cola bottlers. From their previous consulting with Pepsi, Russell and Cooper understood the training needs of the bottling industry and also understood that rapid e-learning tools could be applied to this problem using an innovative instructional approach. To maintain the success that they had achieved in the classroom, ej4 developed a content and communication framework that focuses on learner “engagement” and organizational commitment. They developed the Multi-Purposed Learning™ methodology to encourage companies to embrace the content and integrate it into their culture through post-course and refresh tests, activities, coaching tools, and live Webcasts. ej4 training is integrated into the daily job-activities of bottlers and includes job aids which were developed specifically for the industry.

Figure 1: Sample Job Aids - Sales Call Reports

Today the company has 32 bottler subscribers, representing approximately 6,850 employees nationwide. They offer 70+ Pepsi-Cola bottler courses in bottler management, supervision, sales, merchandising, administration, operations and compliance. They are adding roughly 10 new courses per month based on the requests of bottlers. They are beginning to translate their most popular courses into Spanish and are moving into new distribution markets.

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Pepsi-Cola Bottlers Deploy Innovative E-Learning Solution for Field Training

Figure 2: Pepsi-Cola Bottler Subscribers in North America

Pepsi Bottlers are independent franchisee businesses. They select the eJ4 content because it is highly customized for their specific needs. Franchisees pay an annual subscription fee for unlimited usage and access to the Pepsi Bottler Campus, and learners can take as many courses as they want. Subscribers access the courses over the Internet enabling learners to view courses anytime, anywhere. The Campus presents learners with a wide range of learning activities all focused on the specific needs of bottlers. From the Campus homepage, learners can launch any course in the catalog and download paper-based exams, student materials, and leader guides. ej4 communicates with training administrators through monthly Webcasts and sends all subscribers a monthly tracking report showing who took which course and when. These programs have been highly successful because of their: • Innovative instructional design and use of online video • Complete approach to solving the problems of Pepsi bottlers • Low cost and ease of deployment. The details of this solution are illustrated in three short case studies of Pepsi-Cola bottlers: Ab-Tex Bottling, Brown Bottling, and Springfield Pepsi.

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Pepsi-Cola Bottlers Deploy Innovative E-Learning Solution for Field Training

Case Studies
Ab-Tex Bottling
Founded in 1938, Ab-Tex Bottling bottles and distributes Pepsi-Cola products across all of West Texas. Almost half of its 500+ workforce is comprised of sales reps spread out across the vast region of western Texas.

Figure 3: Ab-Tex Bottling Market Before moving to e-learning, Ab-Tex struggled to train their distributed sales force across this broad geography. Many workers had to drive up to 6 ½ hours to attend instructor-led training. Route and division managers were reluctant to pull sales route reps out of the field and send them to training. Employees complained about leaving their family and job to attend training. Consequently attendance, even at mandatory training, was low. Yet the need for effective training was high. Regulatory requirements mandated much of Ab-Tex’s training including OSHA, sexual harassment, hazardous material management, and forklift safety training.

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Pepsi-Cola Bottlers Deploy Innovative E-Learning Solution for Field Training In mid 2004, Ab-Tex rolled-out a role-based curriculum comprised of both required and optional courses. David Jones, Director of Training and HR at Ab-Tex, says “After 18 years in the Pepsi bottling industry, I saw for the first time quality: Pepsi-specific content delivered just-in-time, just when you need it.” The president, a strong believer that education yields efficiency, also saw the value that ej4 could deliver and supported a highly comprehensive approach to the ej4 curriculum. At the heart of the Ab-Tex’s approach to the e-learning curriculum is a comprehensive learning process which eJ4 calls “Multi-Purposed Learning.” Multi-Purposed Learning is a learning approach that enables an organization to use the content in five different ways. Usage Mode Initial Learning (new hire, or new job role, for example) Refresh Learning Coaching Formats Used Techniques and Application

Online video, handouts, and assessments Optional activities and tests to reinforce and update content. Display standards, for example. Videos are used before and after sales calls to reinforce learning immediately. Managers use videos as same-day coaching tools when a sales call does not go well. Managers are asked to watch a video one week before each team meeting and craft the meeting theme around one of the key training topics. ej4 is developing personal media centers for use on hand-held devices so sales reps can view materials just as they are needed before a critical sales or service call.

Meetings

Performance Support

Figure 3: Five Modes of Multi-Purpose Learning

If learners just watch the training and go away, Ab-Tex views this as a failure. ej4 considers Multi-Purposed Learning critical to their customers’ success, and Ab-Tex views this philosophy as core to their own success.

Continuous Testing Process
In order to instill accountability, Ab-Tex instituted a continuous testing process. They test not only after a learning event but also retest six months later. In addition to leveraging the ej4 pre-delivered tests, individual lines of business developed their own tests that focused specifically on Ab-Tex’s business challenges.

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Pepsi-Cola Bottlers Deploy Innovative E-Learning Solution for Field Training

Training Linked Compensation

to

Performance

Planning

and

Another key element of the success of the program is Ab-Tex’s link between training and the compensation and promotion processes. After completing the required courses for their job, employees can begin to take “optional” courses. They receive incentive compensation added to their annual pay for each course that they take. They receive higher percentage incentive compensation for more difficult courses. Jones says that compensation linkage is key to the success of the e-learning adoption, “Incentive compensation is key; people take the course not only because they are engaging and practical, but employees also get paid more when they do.” The owner provides the additional compensation because there is a correspondingly greater benefit from increased productivity and sales. Because the courses can be accessed 24x7, most employees take the optional courses from home after work hours. Training history is a key factor in deciding who will be promoted at Ab-Tex. Sales route reps cannot be promoted unless they take and pass the required ej4 curriculum. Passing optional courses increases the likelihood of promotion.

Cost Savings and Productivity Gains
Ab-Tex has realized significant cost savings and productivity gains in moving to the ej4 curriculum. Jones says that “for less than a cost of a night in a motel (travel and expense associated with instructor-led training), we can provide our employees with more training and more targeted training for an entire year. And we have fewer people out of the field which means they are spending more time selling.”

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Pepsi-Cola Bottlers Deploy Innovative E-Learning Solution for Field Training

Brown Bottling
Brown Bottling is a family owned Pepsi-Cola bottler that employs roughly 400 employees distributed across five sales centers throughout Mississippi. Since Pepsi-Cola disbanded its corporate training organization Brown Bottling had struggled to train its distributed workforce. Instructor-led training was costly and inefficient. Rather than pulling sales professionals out of the field for training, they would offer training in the morning or the evening so as not to reduce productive selling hours. In the morning, employees were impatient to get to their route; in the evening, employees were mentally and physically fatigued. This proved ineffective, so Brown Bottling then tried expensive books and audio tapes addressing everything from safety procedures to effective sales strategies. These, too, proved ineffective.

Industry-Specific, Relevant Content
When ej4 was launched, Brown Bottling immediately recognized the value of the engaging Pepsi-specific content aimed specifically at the bottling industry. William Penn, Training Manager for Brown Bottling, illustrates the impact of highly customized programs built specifically for Pepsi bottler’s needs: “When you send someone to an open public seminar, they’re not talking to beverage people. ej4 is specific to the industry, that’s the beauty of it. Watching the video is just like watching one of ourselves talking to us. The ej4 content uses all the vernacular of the beverage industry and that creates credibility. There’s no one-size fits all with ej4: they understand that to teach people in a meaningful way you have to act and talk like an insider.”

Engaging use of Video: The Instructor is the Teacher
Much of the success of these programs is due to the highly personalized, engaging video content that ej4 has produced. ej4 uses talented presenters, crisp punchy material, interactive questions, and on-screen grading in a casual, interactive, and funny style to engage the learner. They keep outtakes in the video to make it seem real and do not rely on the traditional PowerPoint slides/content outlines. PowerPoint slides serve to assist the video rather than as a performance support tool. The instructor, not the PowerPoint, is the content. A learner cannot even download the slides since they should not be viewed without the instructor.

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Pepsi-Cola Bottlers Deploy Innovative E-Learning Solution for Field Training Since the instructor is the focus of the content, then it must be easy for learners to quickly access just the information they need – without having to watch a long video which is not relevant.

Keeping Video Short and Interactive
One of the challenges of online video is that it is a “broadcast” medium designed to be watched from beginning to end. In a dynamic environment such as Pepsi training, the learner must be able to view just what they need. ej4’s strict instructional design standards dictate that videos are 10-30 minutes long and segmented into 2-3 minute titled sections—any of which the learner can navigate directly to. At an even more granular level, a learner can navigate directly to the individual slide they want to review using a slide bar in ej4’s custom media player.

Figure 4: Screenshot of Pepsi-Cola Bottler Campus, ej4 Media Player, and Course

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Pepsi-Cola Bottlers Deploy Innovative E-Learning Solution for Field Training

Video Designed for Use in Meetings
With questions interspersed throughout the video, the content is designed to be stopped mid-video and opened up for discussion when used in a group setting. Brown Bottling takes advantage of this in its weekly team meetings where employees and their leaders view an ej4 video and hold discussions around the theme of the video. In the past, Brown Bottling had to compel its employees to attend training through strict scheduling. Employees now look forward to the sales meeting and the ej4 training that they receive.

Tremendous Impact on Sales Revenue
The ej4 curriculum has had a significant impact on Brown Bottling’s overall business performance. Revenue over the past three years has been climbing, but has taken a significant upturn since rolling out the ej4 curriculum. Owner Bill Brown attributes much of 2004’s success to ej4.
Revenue Changes Year over Year
14.0%
Revenue Change (YoY)

12.0%

ej4 curriculum rolled-out here
10.0%

12.0%

Percentage

8.0%

6.0%
4.8% 3.5%

4.0%

2.0%

0.0% 2002 2003 2004

Year

Figure 5: Brown Bottle Revenue Growth as Training was Deployed

Increased Customer Service by Improving Field Confidence
In addition, customer complaints have fallen since rolling out ej4. Penn attributes this to the increased confidence of the sales force in interacting with the customer. Since the biggest complaint in the bottling industry is “your guy didn’t tell me,” new levels of confidence are yielding greater interaction, communication, and customer satisfaction.

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Pepsi-Cola Bottlers Deploy Innovative E-Learning Solution for Field Training The style in which the content is delivered is key to instilling confidence in the learner. According to Penn, “People are a lot more confident since the ej4 training. The videos aren’t intimidating. They’re open-handed – here’s what I have for you, I’m here to help you. They’ve turned our sales reps into professionals from order takers.”

Springfield Pepsi
Springfield Pepsi was already one of the most successful Pepsi bottlers in the nation prior to adopting the ej4 curriculum. But due to a lack of availability of quality Pepsibottler content, training was never an emphasis at the company. The only formal, scheduled training that it offered was for new hires, and the rest was either on-the-job training or ad-hoc training by department managers. But according to John Faloon, President of Springfield Pepsi, “We just new we could be better, and sales execution was the key.” So when ej4 launched its Pepsi-bottler curriculum in early 2003, Faloon immediately knew that his team of 85 employees would benefit. Springfield Pepsi, like all ej4 customers, pays a flat annual fee for unlimited employee access to all ej4 bottler content. Prior to ej4, Faloon had sent a handful of employees to Paul Russell’s live training once a year. According to Faloon, “The problem was that only a small number of people could be exposed to Paul Russell training. The expense of having people out of the market for training was too high. Now I can expose the training to any of my people weekly as opposed to five people once a year.”

Innovative Approach to Video Production
Through the innovative use of video technology, ej4 has been successful in transferring the power of Paul Russell’s live delivery to e-learning. Using PowerPoint over a green screen background (like a weatherperson on the evening TV news), ej4 records the video in a special studio and applies simple technologies to make viewers feel like they are a participant in the course, not mere observers. Their instructional and slide design use quick-changing screens, animations, and effects to keep the background active and interesting. For example, they use a tool called GyroTools, a presentation special effects tool that sits on top of PowerPoint to create the effect of physically taking the viewer into an environment (such as an aisle in a grocery store). This is accomplished simply by zooming in on and rotating a photo embedded in a PowerPoint slide.

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Pepsi-Cola Bottlers Deploy Innovative E-Learning Solution for Field Training

Figure 6: Closeup of Paul Russell Video Course

Curriculum Used Weekly to Drive Focus on Service
The ej4 curriculum has become central to Springfield Pepsi’s culture. All sales reps attends a weekly scheduled training meeting where they view a video, take the accompanying test, and participate in a discussion which requires them to apply the content to a Springfield Pepsi customer. Faloon’s goal of improving sales execution has been achieved. He cites a recent customer e-mail thanking the sales rep for his immediate response to a request to pickup a batch of Frappucino 4-packs that was not selling. The company indicated that historically such a request would have been ignored and taken weeks to accomplish. Because the Springfield sales rep had been effectively trained to understand the connection between quality customer service today and future sales, he responded without hesitation and picked up the 4-packs immediately. Furthermore, rather than simply picking up the Frappucino 6-pack, the sales rep used the negotiation strategies that he had learned in ej4’s “No But If” course to drive additional revenue for Springfield Pepsi. He agreed to pick up the Frapuccino 4-packs in exchange for placement of Lipton 6-pack Ice Tea. According to Faloon, “The upside from a future sales perspective is huge. This is a fast-paced business and these types of scenarios need to be drilled into the sales rep’s head.”

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Task-Oriented Instruction
Much of the success in these programs is due to ej4’s commitment to task rather than topic-oriented instruction. The curriculum is designed to bridge the gap between knowledge and doing. The content draws upon real-world situations and instructs the learner on appropriate responses. Even the titles speak to the situation or task that the employee finds themselves in. For example, “What to To Do When the Job’s not Getting Done,” or “No, But If” walk the learner through supervisory challenges and customer objections that every Pepsi-bottler sales rep encounters. Faloon was correct in his belief that while already a top bottler, Springfield Pepsi could even be better. Since rolling out the ej4 curriculum, Pepsi Springfield has moved from 20th to 6th nationally and from 6th to 2nd regionally in the Pepsi National Retailer Audit. He attributes this change in position directly to the ej4 training.

Bottom Line
These case studies illustrate how industry-focused e-learning solutions can have dramatic impact on sales and customer service. The lessons learned here can be applied to any distribution or sales-related problem. Key lessons learned are: • Content must be industry-focused and job-relevant. ej4’s extensive experience in the Pepsi-bottling industry enables it to build content that precisely meets the need of its franchisee customers; Content must be designed for use in a wide variety of formats. The ej4 “MultiPurpose Learning” approach means that content is specifically designed to meet the needs for: o o o o o • New Hire Training and people new to their jobs Refresher Training: keeping people up to date on key skills and topics Coaching: content designed to be used by managers one-on-one with employees right on the job Meetings Support: content designed for use on a weekly or monthly basis in small groups to facilitate group learning Performance Support: content which can be accessed in a quick, granular way to access just what a learner needs at a point in time.

Video can be highly effective if designed for the Web: o o o o o o Video must focus on the instructor, not the slides Video must be fun, easy to listen to, and “real” Instructors should speak in the language and jargon of the learner Access must be easy and in very small chunks so learners can find just what they need, when they need it The instructional design must include “mental engagement” interactions that simulate actual mouse interaction. The PowerPoint (if used) must support the instructor vs. documenting the content

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Pepsi-Cola Bottlers Deploy Innovative E-Learning Solution for Field Training Video must use “on-the-job” tools to make the instructor look like they’re standing in the real-world environment.

o

These lessons can be applied to any field training in any industry. ej4 is an example of a new-breed of client-focused, highly specialized content provider that provides a very high value solution to their target market.

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Pepsi-Cola Bottlers Deploy Innovative E-Learning Solution for Field Training

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About This Research
Copyright © 2004 Bersin & Associates. All rights reserved. What Works™ and related names such as Rapid E-Learning: What Works™ are registered trademarks of Bersin & Associates. No materials from this study can be duplicated, copied, republished, or reused without written permission from Bersin & Associate

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