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Best practice videos: Learn from your colleagues’ success

AXA Versicherungen AG (branded “AXA Winterthur”) is the leading Swiss insurance company. It employs 277 independent general agents and agencies with around 2,650 sales employees. In the year 2014 the company’s volume of business stood at CHF 11.7 billion. The company belongs to the French insurance firm, AXA.

The challenge

Although all field staff regularly take part in sales training with external trainers, they meet with mixed fortunes in their day-to day-work. In the field they still also “learn from colleagues”, which complements the “formal” training in the seminar room and learning in the work process. Companies that could discover the sales secrets of their leading salespeople and pass on this practical knowhow to the average salespeople report a surprisingly strong growth of the entire sales organization. Because the knowledge of the top people quite clearly leads to sales successes, it is taken up by the rest without any resistance and integrated into their own work. But how can a company process the knowledge of its top performers so that it is easily transferable?

Project “Best Leadership & Way of Selling”

AXA Winterthur started a pilot project in five regions in order to identify sales best practice cases, analyze how they came about and make the approach of the salespeople “learnable”. Success stories were worked up into a six-minute “learning nugget”, which comprised various work-aids and videos. The main actors were the salespeople involved and their superiors. The nuggets were made available for learning to the entire field organization in the pensions and wealth management areas. Torsten Fell, Manager of Business Transformation, reported on the success of “learning nuggets” in his presentation, “Are you still learning or are you already working?” at the tts Forum 2015 within the presentation stream “Performance Support”.

The implementation – home-made best practice videos

From August 2013 until February 2014 AXA produced 24 learning nuggets, each lasting 60 minutes. The question, “What do we do better than others and when did this make us particularly successful?” led to an important internal process of reflection. The general agent responsible became the sponsor for “his” topic and led people through the best practice case study with his comments and practical tips. The topics that were worked on in this way turned on the question of how an exemplary benefits argumentation could look to the customer, how you generate business as an intermediary, or how to use a loss event to maximize client loyalty.

The learning project docks onto the available sales meeting: time in the office is thus also used in order to grapple with a particular sales topic and with a learning nugget. Together they look at the best practice video and discuss what the colleague is doing differently. The respective manager, the general agent, is present as the active tutor for the video presentation and moderates the training sequence that follows. For this purpose he also gets work media such as a prompt book, a guided tour through the video and suggestions for the creation of flipcharts and bulletin boards.

The manager takes primary responsibility for ensuring that people learn something from the best practice studies. He assumes an active role in the learning process – for example, by providing follow-up assignments to the salespeople. Further aspects of the “Best Leadership & Way of Selling” project, which let the sales success extend across a broader front, include:

  • Practically oriented preparation of the learning content
  • Easy access to, and use of, the videos
  • Support for the salespeople’s individual strengths (they do not have to adapt to a rigid competency profile)
  • Anchoring of learning in the management processes
  • Additional sales aids, which are made available online
Torsten Fell, Head Business Transformation, Distribution/Business Development, AXA Winterthur

The question, ‘What do we do better than others and when did this make us particularly successful?’ led to an important internal process of reflection.

 

Torsten Fell, Head Business Transformation, Distribution/Business Development, AXA Winterthur

42:28:16 – a success formula

In the five Swiss sales regions chosen for the “Best Leadership & Way of Selling” project, 330 employees and 18 managers were reached with 24 one-hour learning nuggets inside half a year. After this period 16 percent more salespeople achieved the status of a “top performer” within the pilot group. Taken as a whole, all the salespeople issued 42 percent more insurance proposals. The volume of premiums increased by 28 percent.

As an established expert in the field of transformation and innovative learning methods, Torsten Fell was of great support to the project. He works part-time as Head of Business Transformation in the Distribution department of AXA Winterthur. Fell is, among other things, the Managing Director of the consultancy "Wissen schaft Werte" (“knowledge creates value”). Together with tts GmbH he developed the product "Enable Sales to Success". This enables functional departments or personnel development departments to learn how they can also put best practice cases from their own companies at the center of informal learning in their sales organization via innovative learning arrangements.