Many companies focus on enhancing their employees’ knowledge and skills of the products or services they are offering, in order to turn them into better customer service representatives. However, the intangible element that actually makes for successful customer interaction is employee engagement. Staff who are passionate about what they do, and who choose to give the best, will deliver a great customer experience.
In these recessionary times, as much as in brighter ones, employee engagement is vital to the survival of a business. In spite of this, it's often fatally overlooked by employers, as attitude is something which can't be taught, and traditionally organizations are used to teaching people to do things. We can use the most effective methods of training to provide colleagues with the knowledge and skills they need to understand and deliver this, but if this is all we do, it's very unlikely that our customers will experience anything different.
For example, Performance Plus Marketing (PPM), and Novo Nordisk teamed up to create an unforgettable experience for the sales team selling Novo’s new diabetes drug, Victoza.
A winning sales launch—and ultimately a winning sales program—requires more than simply acquainting the sales force with the product and target market. Anyone can do that—and just about everyone in the incentives and loyalty industry claims they do; but in reality, they don’t all deliver. The product that stands out as a top performer will, of course, have to be high-quality and responsive to market needs. Moreover, the sales force has to be actively engaged in the effort, committed to the goals and invested in the success of the program. In other words, they’ve got to be excited and motivated to sell.
What does this mean? Just as you have to know your market to develop a product that will sell, you have to know the members of your sales force to get them engaged, committed and invested. So, when we took on the Victoza project—the new TYPE 2 Diabetes drug from Novo Nordisk—the first thing we did was a deep dive into the makeup and mindset of Novo’s sales force.
They were the key audience; after all, if the program didn’t appeal to them, it wasn’t going to produce results. We discovered an interesting blend of Generation X sales managers and Generation Y sales reps, of which 53% were female. This insight was crucial. We used our understanding about professionals in that age group to customize a program that capitalized on what motivates these specific generational groups. For example, they are very tech-savvy, they’re accustomed to things working efficiently, they demand a healthy work-life balance, and they expect their work to be fun. Understanding that the sales goals for Victoza were ambitious, we had to launch the program right. Given our insight about the sales force, we couldn’t just trot out some hokey sales promotion.
They would reject that sort of thing en masse. We needed something that was engaging, on top of trends and responsive to their interests. With that understanding, we developed Club V—a virtual, nightclub-type destination that would be the online home for all the reps’ training materials, contest rules, and other information to support and inspire their sales efforts. Club V looks and feels trendy and exclusive. Reps enter on a red carpet and pass a velvet rope guarded by a bouncer. Novo’s performers had to be on the list and be ready for a lot of action and activity, including chances to earn incentives while learning about the product.
During the week-long launch, this included: individual competitions and certification, including role plays, doctor-detailing, online and written testing; team competitions within districts for regional and national placement; and daily product quizzes. Rarely does participation in anything garner 100% involvement, but Novo’s Club V did exactly that—100% of eligible participants took part in the five-day program, in the individual competitions and in the team aspect of the sales competition. Moreover, the daily quizzes attracted participation from 95 percent of the sales force. It was also critical that we didn’t just tease this group with a virtual Club V. We had to supply a genuine pay off. So, the launch also included an evening party at a real-life, bricks and mortar Club V. We gave it a Las Vegas type feel. Participants actually entered our version of a high-end, exclusive club featuring activities and dancing, and live musical performances by well known as Vegas performers.
PPM also designed the program to offer additional benefits that everyone could enjoy, with a little something extra for Novo’s top performers— something exceptional for those who could earn it. That’s why we designed The Vault—a special VIP room accessible only to the Top 10% of performers. Where Club V was great, The Vault was sensational. To emphasize that The Vault wasn’t for anyone, we made the entrance look like a bank vault, giving it a bigger-than-life, highly-exclusive appearance. The only combination that would open it would be a Top 10% sales performance, and that wouldn’t be easy to achieve. However, we made sure it was worth it. Inside The Vault were high-end food and drink offerings, along with special performances from Las Vegas-style magicians whose feats amazed our winners. More than 2,000 sales reps, executives, directors, managers and account executives took part. They loved the activities, embraced the competitions, and got every ounce of fun and excitement out of the launch party. None of that would have mattered if the Novo team hadn’t emerged from the launch motivated, prepared, and ready to achieve exceptional sales performance for Victoza.
PPM’s experience with this type of highly motivational and creative programming told us they would. Why? Because we know that sales reps and sales managers internalize their commitment to programs when the programs reach out and engage them in a way that fits their interests, their priorities and their personalities.
The Results of This Program Won the Day
The strategy was well worth it. The ambitious sales goals set for Victoza have exceeded expectations since the launch; the product is performing just as Novo Nordisk had hoped it would. For an 18-month sales program, much was riding on this one-week launch. A half-baked approach, with little thought to the unique characteristics of the sales force, would have failed and left sales managers struggling to hit sales goals. In order for Victoza to get out of the gate full speed, we had to engage the sales force in a way that would leave them fully invested.