Duarte + Nestlé Purina PetCare: A 12-year training partnership

Workshop facilitator working 1 on 1 with a learner.
A group of employees collaborating during a communication training.

Project background

Upskilling employees is a constant challenge for every learning and development (L&D) leader, and Nestlé Purina PetCare is no different. We have partnered with multiple departments and stakeholders within their organization for over 12 years, and have focused on offering communication trainings to their sales, marketing, data and analytics, IT, demand and supply, and consumer insights teams.

When a large group of new hires joined their sales team, they needed to communicate more persuasively with external decision makers, and we partnered with Functional Sales Training manager, Lauren Sapa, to tackle this. And when it comes to providing professional development growth opportunities, we partnered with Sr. Manager of Organizational Development, Lara Leonberger, to help upskill employees in their marketing, data, and analytics departments. Eventually, Duarte’s innovative trainings grew in popularity, and we also partnered with their IT, demand and supply, and consumer insights teams with our training offerings. There is typically a two-month waitlist to sign up for a Duarte training when it is offered.



The big challenge

Build better communicators … build a better workplace

Whether it’s dealing with an influx of new sales hires during an especially busy season, or thinking up employee training programs, the challenge posed to Duarte was clear: Help reduce turnover issues that naturally stem from a high-growth season; Better focus the sales team on the goals that needed to be accomplished through a common language and a scalable, training framework; Develop a standard mode for sales to communicate to customers with hard-to-train soft skills like empathy, storytelling, and influencing decision makers; Orchestrate a communication skills training plan for multiple departments that helps retain employees, continues to develop them – and provides room to equip upskilled employees of the future.

Catering to Nestlé Purina PetCare’s different needs

Duarte created several custom, self-enrollment learning journeys.

The sales team needed to be able to tell stories and influence decision makers, while removing reliance on long slide decks or dense slides. They began by enrolling large groups of their sales org (with various degrees of tenure and communication skills) into Duarte DataStory® as their foundational course for communicating data insights. Then they had the option to take Resonate® for improved storytelling and Slide:ology® for help with slide design.

For the other departments, the overall goal was for employees to know how to communicate data, and how to offer clear recommendations to both internal and external stakeholders, but these skills can vary by department and role. So we developed an open-enrollment program where individuals can self-select which trainings they wanted. The program included Resonate® for persuasive communication and Slide:ology® for help with communicating on visuals. Some leaders took our Illuminate™ offering as well, which is a training focused on helping leaders communicate through change.

Our process

Through a series of discovery calls, Duarte identified skills gaps where Nestlé Purina PetCare desired to grow, including:

  • Knowing and adapting to their audience
  • Presenting quickly and concisely
  • Avoiding information overload
  • Simplifying overcomplicated visuals
  • Fine tuning customer stories using data
  • Nailing the right level of detail when communicating internally or externally

Each learning journey was then custom-built for each department’s needs. Examples included:

  • Resonate® and Slide:ology® workshops
  • Duarte DataStory® workshop, with the option later to add Resonate® or Slide:ology®
  • Duarte DataStory® workshop, with the option later to add Illuminate™

Our insights

Creating an open enrollment program allowed the learners to choose when to spend their time developing the skills they had personally identified as areas for growth. Because of this, there was usually a two-month waitlist for Duarte courses, which increased engagement and adoption.

Our approach

Duarte typically uses a hypothetical case study as a wrap-up activity to apply the skills taught throughout the training. For Nestlé Purina PetCare, we used one of their own decks. This gave the whole team an opportunity to review the slide deck that they had previously used and give it a makeover based on what they had just learned.

The results

Improving the bottom line

The Nestlé Purina PetCare sales team left with the tools to tailor their content to a variety of different audiences and client interactions. And their other departments left as better communicators – the top ranked skill according to 2024 data, and historically, one of the most difficult to train.