Reinvigorating Sales Success with VR

38% increase in job confidence and success

Necessity is the mother of invention. During a period of change management at Lenovo, the learning team seized the opportunity to reinvigorate sales training for its sales leaders, a historically tough group to pin down. Packed diaries often mean securing training time can be tricky.

However, creating an interesting proposition that involved using Lenovo’s own Virtual Reality headsets combined with a bespoke immersive training program has pushed engagement to the max, and set in motion a new era of L&D.

The Brief Reinvigorate sales success

Lenovo wanted an application that would focus primarily on sales performance and the interaction of the Lenovo salespeople. This included upskilling in softer skills, such as communication, and improving the team’s approach to each other.

They also wanted to create something that could help onboard new employees, coach leaders, and update the quality and safety standards in the workforce. The use of new technology would also hopefully boost engagement.

Lastly, there was a long term goal for the technology to be scalable across multiple international locations.

How Did It Work?

Untitled design (1)
Lenovo's team, including their Think Reality team that supplied the VR headsets, worked closely with Mentor Group, and creative software development company, Uptale, to design a platform and bring it to life.
The aim was to create real-life scenarios using VR to deliver training and maximize the learning experience.
It took Lenovo and its team eight months to pull the concept together.

Creating, designing, and scripting a bespoke program helped tailor the virtual learning experience to the scenarios Lenovo’s sales team typically experiences. Lenovo sales staff recorded on-site videos that added authenticity to the final product.

As the team required the help of the senior leaders to create the content for the training, securing interest and buy-in was less of a challenge and more of a formality. Moreover, senior leadership's involvement in putting together case scenarios was a useful endorsement for the initiative. That said, there was some initial resistance as people tried to understand the concept and how it would be beneficial to the company.

The team collaborated in a joint approach to overcome the obstacles and translate the benefits to the leaders. Lenovo believes it was this networking element of the project that was particularly instrumental in getting the green light.

What Did It Look Like?

This was a brand-new concept for the sales team to get their head around, quite literally. But the involvement of sales leaders and managers in co-creation helped soothe the skeptics.

The program featured a range of scenarios for different audiences, from managers and sales associates to customer service representatives. Each unit explored fundamental coaching methodologies, including ‘red herrings’ to deliver a real challenge and ensure focus throughout the program.

As all the training was delivered in person, attendees still received familiar face-to-face interaction and guidance throughout the VR experience. This included how to adjust to the immersive environment VR creates. It is limited to small groups of around 12, promoting knowledge sharing amongst participants and the opportunity for more thorough debriefs, post-training progress updates, and coaching follow-ups.

The Results

The Results

The response has been overwhelmingly positive. While L&D metrics are not the easiest to capture, immersive VR training has had a notable impact on learners with a 38% increase in confidence after the program. Lenovo found the virtual training course had an average impact of 8.5 out of 10 on job role success.

Using this type of approach means the training is inclusive of all different learner types at Lenovo, be it digitally savvy users or those who are not typically comfortable with using the technology. Follow-up support and training embed the knowledge for both groups and individuals. This approach has cascaded learning across the teams. 

Following the successful pilot in the UK in late 2022, Lenovo has rolled the program out across several Lenovo Hubs in EMEA. It has scheduled more training across the company’s European region for 2023, including Germany and the Nordics. It’s safe to say that this is now part of the Lenovo learning mix, despite challenges such as regional limitations and licensing considerations.