Measuring ROI in an Upgrade Selling Program: A Mobile Learning Solution
Jack J. Phillips and Patti P. Phillips
This project involves a mobile learning application for sales associates of a large software firm specializing in software solutions for the trucking industry. Sales associates were provided a mobile learning solution for their iPads, designed to describe and sell an upgrade to its most popular software product. Although the release occurred at the same time for all sales associates, not all of them logged onto the learning portal through their iPads, which allowed an opportunity for a comparison group. This case study highlights the key issues in calculating the impact and ROI of a mobile learning solution on business results. The case is arranged in a multiple part format to allow readers to experience the issues and recommended actions and solutions.
Transoft is one of the largest software companies for the trucking industry. With more than 12,000 users, Transoft dominates the trucking landscape. Transoft provides software solutions for carriers, brokers, logistics companies, and shippers. A variety of software solutions are available, including products for financial operations, fleet management, document systems, dispatch operations, freight management, and broker management. Its most popular software, ProfitPro, integrates a variety of software solutions, all aimed at improving the efficiency and profitability of the trucking company. The trucking industry is highly competitive, often producing low margins. Having an efficient operation is usually the difference in profit or loss. ProfitPro has a reputation for helping trucking companies meet profit goals.
Transoft has an extensive network for sales and marketing, with more than 200 sales associates serving all of North America. Sales associates are strategically located across the United States and most work from their homes. Bringing sales teams into three regional offices for training has become a thing of the past, unless extensive formal development of new sales associates is needed.
Transoft has just completed an upgrade on its most popular software, ProfitPro, and has released it to the sales team to begin selling the upgrades. An upgrade costs the client from $1,000 to $3,000, depending on the scope of operations. For the client, the upgrade provides some new features and streamlines some of the previous processes. It should help make clients more profitable by reducing the time to complete certain documents, ensuring on-time filing, reducing invoicing errors, and improving other operating efficiencies.
The learning and development team agreed on a solution that would involve a mobile learning application directly accessible on an iPad. Previously, sales teams were furnished with iPads for work. With five modules, the program would take about two hours to complete, which would prepare a sales rep to sell the upgrade. The specific modules include:
O rationale for the upgrade
O key features of the upgrade
O how the upgrade will increase profits (time savings, quality improvements, and productivity)
O pricing options
O implementation and support.
Each module contains tools to check learning and to encourage and plan for application. In addition, brief summaries of each module are produced for review just before meeting a client. The program provides an integration with Salesforce.com to set up appointments with customers to discuss the upgrade. This feature identifies the target clients, listed by potential sales volume. It also develops the pricing options based on the client's use of ProfitPro. Modules were designed to develop an understanding of the upgrades and to assist, encourage, and even require a sales associate to sell the upgrade.
A mobile solution was selected because of its flexibility, convenience, and cost. It was not feasible to train the sales force in face-to-face workshops. A half-day workshop would have required sales associates to lose an average of a day at work, and more than 80 percent of them would have incurred travel costs. A mobile solution was not only ideal for this type of program, but it was the only way to go from an economic and convenience perspective.
Rationale for ROI
Although mobile learning appeared to be the only feasible solution in terms of cost, time, and convenience, the management team wanted to know whether it was working, perhaps at the same level as a face-to-face workshop. Executives wanted an evaluation that would show how well the program was working, how quickly it was working, and what issues were inhibiting the success of this type of learning. While executives were convinced that this approach was necessary for a diverse sales force scattered around the country, there was still a nagging concern about the effectiveness of mobile learning programs. Although they would see the sales numbers, they wanted to know more in terms of costs versus benefits. The learning team was challenged not only to secure data but also to evaluate the program up to and including the financial ROI. They insisted that the analysis should be credible, separating the influence of this program from the special promotion for the upgrade.
1. Is this level of accountability typical? Please explain.
2. What do you think the broad objectives should be at each level? Reaction