Training Industry Magazine - Winter 2014 - (Page 48)

CASEBOOK BY MICHELLE EGGLESTON COMBINED INSURANCE: ENSURING EFFICIENT SALES TRAINING VIA MOBILE LEARNING Whether it's door-to-door or business-tobusiness, sales reps have limited time and resources to take training courses in the field. With a unique set of learning challenges, sales professionals require just-in-time training solutions to receive information anytime and anywhere. When developing training for a dispersed workforce, many organizations are turning to mobile learning. Combined Insurance is one of those companies. With worldwide operations, Combined Insurance provides supplemental insurance, including accident, disability, health and life insurance products. The company, which uses a business model based on sales, is structured so that its sales agents spend most of their time in the field - making mobile communication a critical way to dispense training information. As a special projects coordinator of technology and training, Michael Helton's job is to help ensure the U.S. sales force at Combined Insurance has training available at their fingertips. Working within the marketing team, Helton helps orchestrate and design effective learning solutions that fit the sales representatives' needs. Helton said that Combined Insurance takes training seriously, and a lot of time and money is invested in preparing its sales staff to meet business demands. For example, when examining how to improve current training initiatives and better meet the needs of agents, Helton said that the team looked at alternatives to more effectively deliver training materials to managers and agents in the field. 48 TRANSITIONING TO MOBILE LEARNING Sales training at Combined Insurance used to occur solely in the classroom, but with advancements in technology over the past decade, it is now possible for training to take place outside the physical classroom. Online learning began gaining momentum in the training marketplace about 10 years ago. Helton said that the company took notice of this trend and set up a learning management system with online courses available to employees through desktops and laptops. But, the marketing and training teams soon realized that this approach was not a viable training option for its sales force, since the reps were predominately based in the field. And, it became challenging for agents to find the time to sit down behind a computer and complete the courses. Taking this into consideration, the marketing and training teams began considering mobile learning as a convenient way to dispense content to employees. Combined Insurance turned to Brainshark, a provider of cloud-based training solutions, to help develop mobile learning experiences that would adequately meet the needs of its mobile sales force. "Our salespeople love the idea of mobile learning because it fits into their schedules," Helton said. "They want bite-sized content, not huge blocks of training." To transition the sales force to mobile learning, Combined Insurance will be issuing tablet computers to each member of its U.S. sales force. The tablets will include off-theshelf training products, as well as company- developed applications designed to deliver information and other resources that sales agents and managers need to meet and exceed business goals. With the help of this technology, Combined Insurance's marketing and training team can now identify individuals who may be struggling with a product or sales approach, and prescribe specific training courses or materials to help. This prescriptive training approach allows training to be assigned on an as-needed basis, while delivering just-in-time training, Helton said. "It's important to give employees what they need, when they need it," he added. DEVELOPING A MOBILE LEARNING STRATEGY While mobile learning is improving the way sales agents receive training information at Combined Insurance, there is still a need for face-to-face training. That's why the team uses a hybrid approach, incorporating different solutions to meet different needs. For example, onboarding training for new sales agents is a comprehensive two-week classroom experience that teaches them about company products and services. Classroom training is followed by one week of on-the-job training with a manager in the field, which is then followed by regular ongoing training through online modules that can be accessed through laptop/desktop computers and now through tablets. "Mobile learning allows the company to prepare learners for face-to-face training,

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Training Industry Magazine - Winter 2014

Tracking Trends
Table of Contents
Guest Editor: Meeting Today's Learning Consumers Where They Are
Facilitating Change
How Smart Leaders Squash Employee Entitlement
The Reskilling of Design
Responsive Design and Learning Solutions
Women, Leadership and Emotional Intelligence
Key Trends for 2014: Shifting to Business-Centric Learning
The Promise of Badges for Learning and Development
The Business Leader's Bottom Line: Aligning Learning with Organizational Needs
Raising the Bar: The Impact of Sales Training on Effective Customer Engagement
The Language of Measurement: When to Assess, Evalutate and Test
Casebook: Combined Insurance: Ensuring Efficient Sales Training via Mobile Learning
The Challenge of Workplace Re-entry After Training
The Learning Shift: From Event to Process
What's Online
Company News

Training Industry Magazine - Winter 2014