Northwestern Mutual’s Fastrack Sales School

Fastrack Sales School was redesigned and relaunched in December 2011 as a completely online learning portal featuring a blend of self-paced and facilitator-led training modules with cross-generational appeal.

Edited by Margery Weinstein

Northwestern Mutual’s Fastrack Sales School is an integral part of the company’s Fastrack Training System, a three-pronged training framework developed several years ago to give new financial representatives the confidence and skills needed for success. Used in its field offices, Fastrack training includes:

  1. Basics, a multifaceted, self-paced introduction that helps representatives build crucial foundational skills.
  2. Sales School to teach key fact-finding skills, product and services knowledge, and client relationship-building techniques.
  3. Comprehensive Ongoing Representative Education (CORE), a series of modules to expand and solidify skills acquired in Basics and Sales School. Some 1,700 to 2,100 new representatives attend Fastrack training annually.

New Format

Fastrack Sales School was redesigned and relaunched in December 2011 as a completely online learning portal featuring a blend of self-paced and facilitator-led training modules with cross-generational appeal. For new financial representatives, the training provides the foundation they need to provide products and services while successfully building and maintaining long-term client relationships. For experienced financial representatives, this new mobile technology offers a convenient and flexible opportunity for refresher training. For both, Sales School curriculum brings into focus Northwestern Mutual’s strategy to position itself as a more integrated, holistic culture that is not product driven, but more aligned to meet the client’s total financial needs.

Fastrack Sales School features 16 individual modules that address Northwestern Mutual’s sales process, products, and services. Each module contains a self-paced and a facilitator-led component that have been redesigned in a format that engages today’s new generation of financial representatives who are accustomed to receiving information when and where they want it. These self-paced modules enable new representatives to easily access the knowledge they need so they can focus valuable class time on strengthening face-to-face relationship-building skills. The self-paced component, available 24x7 via PC, iPad, and other mobile devices, allows students to access key topics while engaging them with interactive audio and video technologies. Knowledge checks for each of the modules ensure that students stay on track. The facilitator-led component enables students to apply knowledge gained in the self-paced component and practice new actions through exercises, such as role-playing and peer feedback. These actions then are linked back to performance measurement.

Results

A survey of Fastrack participants and facilitators rated their satisfaction with this training at 3.8 out of 4.0. Faculty reports that content, format, and accessibility of course material is top-notch, and financial representatives attending Sales School say they are much more confident and ready to prospect. Company leaders are impressed not only with the success of the program but also with Sales School’s reduced carbon footprint, which positions Northwestern Mutual to save $165,000 annually in printing, shipping, and storage costs.

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