September 13, 2019
Milwaukee Tool: Increasing Sales Through Partner Training
Since 1924 Milwaukee Tool has led the industry in durability and performance, providing professional, heavy-duty tools and accessories.
Their commitment to excellence extends to partner training as well. Milwaukee’s senior leadership has set high standards for how they want to engage and educate distributors. They believe building brand affinity among channel partners is as important as conveying the innovative features of a product. Anne Winter, Manager of Digital Training, and the Milwaukee digital team deliver the goods. “We’ve got some pretty aggressive goals that take us through 2020, and distributor training has consistently been identified as a key component to those goals,” says Winter.
Previous to working with BlueVolt, Milwaukee was struggling to scale training initiatives with customers. They needed to educate more people in their channel in a shorter period of time. This meant rethinking their processes and reconsidering their eLearning platform. They needed a complete eLearning solution tailored to their channel structure and strategy.
Milwaukee has an employee LMS, but it was not integrated into their network of distributors, buying groups and trade associations. Milwaukee was missing out on access to a wider audience of customer-facing individuals who could be learning about and selling their products.
As Winter explains, “Previously I had the ‘ball field,’ but the people weren’t there. BlueVolt had the people as well as the ball field. So we made the decision to jump into their system for customer training because it alleviated a lot of heavy lifting that we would have had to do on our own. Because they’re so ingrained across all of our industries, it’s very easy to tap into that ecosystem. That is their true value proposition.”
In 2013, Milwaukee partnered with BlueVolt to launch Milwaukee University. The engagement started out with a strategy phase to align on objectives, channel structure, brand considerations, and learner-experience needs. We then worked closely on migrating all data and content. Finally, the launch was supported with training on platform administration and integrated reports to track success.
By loading all training content into Milwaukee University, Winter can easily share it not only to distributors of all sizes, but also to buying groups and associations, that have learners in the BlueVolt Ecosystem. “It’s a very simple matter of making a few clicks, and sharing it,” says Winter.
Furthermore, the BlueVolt Learning Management Platform allows Milwaukee sales leaders to customize training programs for each distributor. For instance, if they are looking to increase sales of a particular tool (or family of tools) they can bundle a set of courses into a program. Milwaukee and the channel partner are then able to look at usage and sales reports to understand effectiveness – by branch, by product, or learner. “To measure the effectiveness of these programs, we look at the sales for that quarter. Then tie the training itself directly to the sales results of that sell-through,” says Winter.
Milwaukee can offer a robust learner-experience from a modality perspective. They utilize everything from quick videos, to a podcast-style training for those on a mobile-device, to a very involved interactive course requiring user participation from start to finish. “We develop courses that fit into busy schedules. From a short 3-5 minute video to a more involved, interactive experience, we can cover it,” says Winter.
Winter notes that the eLearning initiative has gotten a great deal of traction since moving to BlueVolt. Sales and Marketing leaders understand the direct correlation between online learning behaviors and the impact on sales. This is stimulating new ways to strengthen relationships with distributors. For instance, Milwaukee can tie course enrollments and completions to recognition and awards for their distributor partners. “There are some groups that we do business with, where training is a heavily-weighted component on who receives their Supplier of the Year award and other recognition,” Winter explains.
Since 2014, Milwaukee has grown course volume by 516%, enrollments by 245% and completions by 366%.
“I love working with BlueVolt,” Winter says. “They’ve become a great partner. The group that they have is spectacular. I hope they’re all very happy in their jobs and stay there because they help me make my job easy. BlueVolt’s position in the marketplace and in our industry is their true value proposition.”