This is Part 2 of our interview with Gene Feldman M.A.Ed., Training Manager, Nestlé Purina Pet Care North America. The interview is a discussion of the future of immersive sales training and corporate learning. Gene is an avid early adopter who has championed the use of UPtick™ Sales Readiness platform from Selleration, an immersive sales development software featuring 3D role play simulation and Virtual Reality training, in use at Purina. The findings below have been condensed and edited for clarity

What are your expansion plans for VR or modern sales training?

Our big drive is for virtual reality. We are going to set up a robust virtual reality training program for Sales and other functions. We actually want to be able to use virtual reality sales training as the gateway to more VR throughout the enterprise. The elements we are putting into our virtual experience is focused on training, but it in a way that changes behaviors in people. 

A great example is let’s say someone starts in Purina sales, but then they change roles. But two years later, they come back to sales. They can go right back into UPtick – practice and rehearse and regain skills. With UPtick, a big value is the ability to rehearse. We tell reps – if you are heading into a big customer meeting, go into UPtick for a little bit and practice your conversation. 

This year we introduced VR sales training. In 2020, we are going to scale up. We are hoping to start with 50-100 headsets. By 2021, we are hoping to be at 500.

What KPI’s do you track to measure sales training performance?

When someone is new and they start, we use UPtick to get a baseline of their Sales strengths and weaknesses that we can then use to guide coaching. We also look at whether or not a rep moves up in the company, using the skills they gained in training.

We are excited about the gamification aspect of UPtick that keeps people engaged and learning. We use the point system in UPtick, and our reps can see how they stack up against their peers on the team. Salespeople love competition, they thrive on it; so why not use it to our advantage!

Do you use UPtick Sales Assessments at Purina?

We use UPtick Sales Assessments to get a baseline and to help us identify future roles. If we see employees that excel at negotiation, we look at what roles we can move them into that will be the best use of those skills. The assessments let us know where they can grow within Purina. 

At Purina, we really believe in upward mobility and longevity, so we are always looking at how we can develop people to move them up. The assessments help us to narrow that down, identifying where each person could be the most successful.

How do you use UPtick for Sales Coaching?

We use UPtick’s reporting feature for our leadership, it is unbelievable and includes a very robust analytical engine. What is really nice is UPtick allows our sales training team to drill down to the exact point in the conversation where someone went south. 

When we started incorporating UPtick, one of the things we were interested in addressing is a common complaint from sales management. Reps would come to them and say that they had a customer conversation that was going well until SOMETHING went wrong SOMEWHERE – and they often didn’t understand how or why or where it went wrong. 

UPtick can pinpoint exactly where conversations go wrong. So now reps can go through the conversation, see where it went wrong, review the coaching themselves and if they have questions they can reach out to their manager or trainer. 

UPtick also allows people to do a lot of learning independently. People are able to digest information that makes sense to them and incorporate it into their sales experience. 

Do you have any plans to use the AI based predictive analytics leveraging UPtick data?

The UPtick development team has been working really hard at creating an AI interface and a predictive data engine. I can’t wait to get my hands on it. I think it will be a game changer. 

When you are talking about Sales training and learning and development, everything is predictive. You are trying to predict what people are going to learn over a set period of time, or trying to predict people’s responses to an experience. If we boil down to what training is: changing behavior as a result of experience. So, if we can predict what experiences are going to give people trouble, we can focus on those.

One of the things that we want our reps to learn is that there are a variety of customers and every customer is different. The salesperson who went door-to-door learned to change their pitch and personality based on who answered the door. They learned through a lot of experience. The landscape has changed, but salespeople still need experience. I think having a predictive analytical tool will help provide that variety of sales experience that allows for a more agile sales person.

Are there any instances where UPtick has made Purina more competitive in your mind?

Through the use of UPtick, I really do think it has made us more competitive across the landscape. This year, we have seen some really good sales numbers, and UPtick has shown us that our salespeople can win over the tough customers. 

We have seen internal competition to win them over – and even reps competing with themselves. We had one sales rep repeat an UPtick conversation 78 times. They wanted to make sure they did it better than they did it before! The virtual sales environment just creates a much different scenario than two people in the back of a training room.  

UPtick is making our category team members more competitive. We are seeing it is giving us a skill set that maybe our competitors who are using instructor-led training or standard e-learning don’t have. 

This year has been a record year for Purina. We are expanding UPtick use to our entire sales organization in 2020, and even to other areas in the Nestlé global corporation. I truly believe UPtick played a role in our success.

Any other thoughts on UPtick you would like to share?

We have been using UPtick for a year and a half. It is a solid application, and the UPtick team is responsive and passionate about what they do. While the off-the-shelf products at UPtick are phenomenal, the custom conversations available in the VR tool give our internal team the ability to manipulate sales conversations based on need. Also, the way the software is designed is very agile so we can make changes quickly. 

I recommend UPtick highly. I sound like an infomercial, but I truly believe it.

Want to train your sales team in a virtual reality environment? Contact us for a demo of UPtick™.