Case Study: The Secret to Building and Rewarding Product Knowledge

StriVectin had been smoothing, lifting and tightening complexions for well over a decade when it became clear it was time to do the same for its system of educating and rewarding the people selling its products.

One of the world’s largest independent prestige skin care companies focusing on clinical anti-aging solutions, StriVectin came onto the market in 2002 with StriVectin-SD Intensive Concentrate for Stretch Marks & Wrinkles, and it went on to create clinical anti-aging skin care products with patented niacin-based solutions for some of skin’s most visible signs of aging. Today, one tube of StriVectin-SD is sold every 59 seconds, and the product is often credited as among those that started the cosmeceutical skin care category.

Making the Most of Every Conversation

StriVectin knew its customers did their research before coming to the beauty counter&mndash;but they still showed up with plenty of questions they wanted answered before purchasing. Is this right for my skin type? How long will the product last? Can I use it with my other beauty products? How does it work for you?

Every conversation had the power to influence what someone would—or wouldn’t—buy.

“Skin care products aren’t like a shirt, where it looks good so the customer buys it,” says Laurel Anne Harward, director of education for StriVectin. “They’re buying it for results they can’t physically see the moment they purchase it. So a testimonial from a sales associate that has used the products is critical.”

Sales associates needed to have detailed product knowledge well beyond that of the customer—and preferably to have used the products themselves. In short, they needed to be StriVectin experts.

Taking Expertise to the Next Level

StriVectin’s dedicated field team was always on the road handling in-person training to provide sales associates with the latest product information. But it was nearly impossible to reach every sales associate in every location and make sure each associate received samples of StriVectin.

“Think about how many sales associates work in the beauty department of just one Dillard’s or Macy’s or Nordstrom store, and multiply that by all the doors we’re in,” explains Harward. “The cost to print and ship traditional training materials was substantial. We needed to reach the people selling our products with consistent information.”

A Fresh Approach to the Challenge

StriVectin considered creating its own online training courses for sales associates, but quickly realized this called for a whole new category of expertise. Fortuitously, StriVectin heard about a company that had been building product knowledge for hundreds of brands outside the beauty industry. No stranger to new ideas or innovative thinking, StriVectin saw an opportunity to break new ground with Experticity.

At the point it started working with StriVectin, Experticity had spent almost a decade working with top brands to engage hundreds of thousands of retail sales associates with in-depth online training and interactive quizzes on the site, rewarding the associates with gratis products and discounts that gave even more exposure to the products. Even better, Experticity had stats that proved its system not only increased product knowledge, but also made sales associates stronger brand advocates that more consistently offered personal recommendations and meaningful testimonials to customers.

Energizing and Rewarding Experts on the Sales Floor

The Experticity team worked closely with StriVectin to create training modules covering the history of the brand, the science behind its products, and the individual products themselves, plus tips for selling.

Sales associates would simply register for and jump right into the short, engaging StriVectin courses, which they could take at their leisure. Associates could complete a module in a few minutes, prove their knowledge with a quiz and then move on to the next module. And once they were done, they earned a free, full-sized StriVectin product that gives them more personal experience to draw from with customers.

As modules were updated, there was more opportunities for free products, discounts and contests, helping to create an always-current system that benefits sales associates year-round. Beyond maintaining a constant flow of current information and facilitating firsthand testimonials for customers, the new training and rewards system also helped StriVectin communicate the more complex benefits of its products.

“We have a patented vitamin B3 technology called NIA-114 that’s rooted in over 30 years of skin cancer research that is very compelling, but it isn’t a two-second story that you can print on a box,” says Harward.

Almost 12,000 Brand Advocates Already

In just two years, StriVectin transitioned most of its training efforts to Experticity’s platform, with a goal of moving away from classroom training in an effort to save even more time and money.

“We like the flexibility Experticity offers us,” says Harward. “I come up with ideas to tweak programs, and they’re always willing to work with us and grow together, which is a key component of success.”

Almost 12,000 sales associates have completed the StriVectin product training already. And StriVectin is confident they’ll continually pass on their enthusiasm to current and future customers, as the power of conversation continues to create positive buying experiences.

Dave Reardon is the vice president of sales at Experticity. He and his team have been working closely with the beauty industry for the past several years helping brands and retailers create and empower expertise, deliver higher sales results, and facilitate better consumer interactions. He has almost 20 years of experience enabling technology solutions that drive business value.

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