Driving Upskilling Success: $14.5 M ROI Fueled by Digital Credentials

    In the competitive realm of global sales, Pearson introduced dynamic learning opportunities for their sales team. Motivated by the chance to upskill and enticed by digital credentials, the teams embraced the initiative, resulting in a notable ROI attributed to the acquired skills.

    Executive Summary

    • Overview: Recognizing the critical importance of upskilling in a rapidly evolving sales environment, Pearson strategically implemented the iSell initiative to address knowledge gaps and foster a customer-centric sales culture.

    • Intent: To incentivize participation and facilitate skill development among employees, digital credentials issued on the Credly platform were awarded upon course completion. 

    • Impact: Motivated by the opportunity for upskilling and driven by the incentive of earning digital credentials, sales teams reported an estimated $14.5 million ROI attributed to the enhanced skills gained through the iSell initiative.


    In the challenging landscape of global sales, Pearson embarked on an exciting journey with a new initiative for their salespeople. A series of courses was developed to equip sales teams with the skills to understand customer needs. Motivated by the prospect of upskilling and driven by the incentive of receiving digital credentials to validate and showcase their new skills, the sales teams embraced the initiative and reported an estimated $14.5 million return on investment (ROI) attributed to the enhanced skills learnt.

    Enabling Meaningful Sales Conversations Through Skill Transformation

    Pearson, as a learning organization, recognizes the evolving landscape of the future workforce and the imperative need to prepare individuals with the right skills to accomplish business goals. In alignment with this commitment, Pearson refined its sales approach with the iSell learning and development initiative. The iSell initiative looks to upskill sales teams in steering away from conventional product-centric conversations and instilling a culture where sales teams understand and care about the unique needs of their customers to provide a more effective and relevant solution-led sale.

    In a world where skills development is paramount, Brian Taylor, the initiative owner, quickly acknowledges the importance of providing tangible value to employees taking the course, helping them to highlight their individual achievements. Recognizing Credly's established success as a leading digital credentialing platform, Brian opted to harness the motivational power of digital badges, empowering employees to substantiate and share their skills development.

    Since launching globally in 2021, the iSell initiative at Pearson has not only improved sales training but has also generated an encouraging return on investment (ROI). Learners self-reported a total of 508 deals, resulting in $14.5 million attributed to the skills developed in the iSell initiative, with an average ROI of $28,500 per sales deal. As evidencing application of skills developed during the iSell training is a key part of the badging criteria, Brian is able to track how learners are applying what they learn through the course in their roles. He believes the credentials are a huge motivation for his learners to share evidence on how they apply their learning, and as a result, the credentials are well received by their earners. Below, you can also find an example of how digital badges support the sales process.

    • The average cost of the training is $338 per head.
    • The iSell initiative has generated an average of $28,500 per deal.
    • This means that every $1 spent on the iSell initiative will create a $84 return.

    Badge Earner Story: A Closer Look at iSell's Credentialing Experience

    Client: A private University in Peru

    Deal value: $103,500


    The customer was looking for a high-quality learning product with bundled versions (physical, digital, and additional resources) on a stable platform with quality customer support. But like many major organizations, the customer had strict requirements, compounded by the distrust from their previous supplier.

    How Digital Credentials Help Enhance Confidence in Sales Skills:

    During the sales process, the skills acquired in the iSell initiative were applied to tailor the approach to the client’s profile and effectively communicate how the product would meet their needs. Digital credentials gave the salesperson the confidence to deliver the best solutions to customers.

    Luis Dávila Maldonado, the key account executive said 'Receiving a digital badge holds immense significance for me. It not only signifies my academic and professional growth but also bolsters my confidence in executing my role effectively. During the sales process, I applied the skills I acquired in the iSell program to tailor my approach to the client’s profile and effectively communicate how our product would meet their needs.

    Digital credentials serve as a powerful testament to my capabilities.’

    This tangible link between skill acquisition and monetary value indicates the role digital credentials can play in boosting learners’ confidence and driving business outcomes.

    Clear Learning Journey and Module Structure

    Many factors contributed to the success of the iSell initiative. To start, there is a clear journey for learners to participate in different courses, with stackable credentials to recognize the completion of each course. Delivered by accredited "Master Trainers" in local geographics in the local language, there is one mandatory and three optional modules for learners to pursue within the iSell initiative, depending on their role. A clear upskilling structure and the provision of flexibility for learners to learn at their own pace proved to be key drivers of engagement.

    In addition, before digital badges were officially implemented, the initiative owner initiated a pilot program with 20 employees in 2020. This strategic move was a comprehensive test of the initiative's content and methodology.

    Feedback from the test participants was valuable in refining the iSell modules and aligning them with the diverse needs of global sales teams. The pilot program also gauged employee engagement and buy-in, enabling the team to launch the initiative confidently. With the foundation established, the integration of digital badges seamlessly followed, underscoring the importance of a well-planned credentialing strategy.

    • 95% acceptance rate for iSell badges, compared to the average rate of 67%.
    • 71% share rate on the badges, compared to the average rate of 47%.
    In addition to a solid initiative foundation that made setting up a digital credentialing program smooth, Brian recognized that the success of iSell also comes down to the user-friendliness of the Credly platform. Features like analytics, the ability to create stackable credentials with metadata, and the ease of issuing and managing badges added to his positive user experience.

    ‘We had some excellent support from the Credly team when we set-up the badging program. There was a simple course supplemented with some great advice from the team on credential design, criteria and skills. I love the platform which is very simple to use. It's so easy to design and issue your credentials and the data and analytics are fantastic.’

    - Brian Taylor, Senior Director HR Business Partner & Initiative Owner for iSell

    The iSell initiative, with its robust badging infrastructure, is a strong example of how credentialing can enhance sales training. The badge earner story above has also illustrated the effectiveness of digital credentials in instilling confidence in their sales conversations. Pearson's dedication to customer needs has reshaped sales conversations and established a standard for skills transformation in the ever-evolving global sales environment.

    Connect with our Sales team to explore how digital badges can drive favorable business results for you.

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