Tempur-Sealy: How the world’s largest mattress company leverages extended enterprise learning to maintain its edge
Jason Bacaj | 4 min read
If learning and development were a ski area, extended enterprise would be a double black diamond run. All the same concepts apply, the playing field is just different.
In the non-hypothetical sense, extended enterprise learning is when a training program goes beyond —extends, if you like — an organization’s employees and reaches retail partners, customers, and whoever needs to be reached.
What initially seems like a natural step is actually quite the leap. Employees can be compelled to train, but outside partners give their attention voluntarily. They’ll poke around the learning management system, so content must be catalogued and searchable rather than assigned by role. Plus, retailers might need their own domains, so as to protect their sales tactics or brand.
Tempur-Sealy, one of the world leaders in the sleep industry, tackled this unusually amalgamated challenge when it partnered with Wisetail to handle its learning management needs.
Companies in the mattress and sleep industries train retail partners on new product features and functionalities each year. Mike Brady, Tempur-Sealy’s Director of National Sales Training, recognized the opportunity the company had to differentiate itself from competitors through training. And he knew the company had to change the way it handled extended enterprise learning if it wanted to keep pace with changes in the retail landscape — like smartphone-wielding omni-channel shoppers and direct-to-consumer competitors like Casper or Tuft & Needle.
Mike brought Jim O’Donnell, Vice President of Sales Development, on board to help tackle the challenge. Jim knew the company’s “best-in-class in-person training” and how it goes beyond monotone monologues and actually engages employees. The courses inspired them to identify with customers and helped retail partners —extended enterprise partners— get more than expected out of their sales experience. All they needed to do was find the right way to bring that successful, time-tested training online.
‘A community-minded site’
With Wisetail, Mike and Jim knew they could go to their retail partners and say ‘We’re the resource to work with because we not only offer you great product but also opportunities to help grow your business.’
“We needed to have a community-minded site,” Mike said. “Wisetail fits perfectly, which is why we chose it.”
One way Tempur-Sealy went about convincing its retail partners to adopt the new LMS, called the Snooz, was straightforward enough: just translate the in-person product training to the Snooz. They also added proven sales techniques, pro tips, and anecdotes from other salespeople within the Snooz community.
“We’re really seeing some things take off with those who have adopted it,” Mike said.
In fact, the launch was so successful that other departments at Tempur-Sealy immediately saw the utility of the Snooz. Rachel Underwood, Human Resources Manager, recognized the opportunity to leverage the Snooz to formalize training across the company.
In just handful of months, the Snooz community helped Tempur-Sealy differentiate itself from its competitors. Now the LMS is expanding to include a wide swath of employees across Tempur-Sealy. Mike estimated that about 10,000 users are already on the Snooz, and plans to open the LMS live across the organization are set for the late first quarter of 2019.
“Materials like e-courses are in there, information for specific job functions, information about the company if somebody wants more in-depth learning about the company. It’s pretty exciting. It’s getting better and better,” Mike said. “We’re thrilled to see what happens as it rolls out to the rest of the company.”