Top 10 Hall of Fame Outstanding Training Initiatives (March/April 2018)
Capital BlueCross: Consultative Training with Insights
Sales training and sales effectiveness has become a cornerstone of Capital BlueCross’ strategy to increase revenues and drive efficiency. In 2015, the volatile health-care marketplace made it clear that Capital BlueCross needed to overhaul its sales approach in order to thrive. Brands that remain static are at risk of becoming irrelevant or stagnated.
The organization’s new sales strategy reflects a paradigm shift from a commodity-centric approach to a customercentric approach that has transformed what customers previously knew as a health plan into a health experience.
In crafting the new Consultative Training with Insights program, Capital BlueCross used various assessments to obtain feedback on the organization’s current climate on sales techniques (individual skill sets) and performance/ effectiveness (organizational factors) that affect sales performance. The assessment process included:
- Sales Approach Assessment: Assessed how the sales team currently is selling and what techniques they are using, as well as determined the new/future focus sales reps need to be using to successfully meet organizational goals.
- Sales Performance “Health Check” Assessment: Focused on the sales organization’s effectiveness in nine areas with each topic or skill ranked by the degree of importance to the success of the sales organization.
Based upon the final results and analysis, Capital BlueCross identified Richardson as the right partner to build the core fundamentals of its new sales approach. To date, the training has primarily been instructor-led, with a mix of pre- and post-online assessments and mobile reinforcement post-training. The training was delivered to 200-plus employees across all sales segments within Capital BlueCross (Commercial, Medicare, Individual, Retail, and Ancillary). Sales leaders also participated in the training in conjunction with their teams.
During the first year, sales teams participated in a two-day Consultative Selling Skills with Insights program to build better dialogue skills and half-day Negotiation (Closing the Deal) and full-day Sales Presentations workshops to reinforce core selling skills. To supplement the fundamental skill development, Capital BlueCross developed a sales and sales management process to build accountability in alignment with salesforce.com. These processes provided the organization with verifiable outcomes supporting funnel management and coaching dialogues.
In year two, Capital BlueCross introduced the two-day High Performance Selling session to help teams link dialogue skills, sales process, and opportunity strategies in their day-to-day activities, and the high-level half-day workshop, Consultative Negotiations, to enhance capabilities.
This year, Capital BlueCross will roll out a blended learning platform to sustain the learning strategy, keep sellers engaged in the field, and transition to a level of mastery. There will be a combination of gamification, video-based learning scenarios, and social elements that will help sales reps feel confident in applying new behaviors immediately in the field.
Reinforcement of the training includes online assessments, Richardson QuickCheck (a mobile reinforcement tool), team huddles and insight meetings, coaching sessions, and quarterly skill reinforcement (based on assessment results, leaders select topics to present as “leader as teacher” sessions).
To date, training results have shown an increase in the proficiency of Capital BlueCross’ sales force, including:
Consultative Selling with Insights:
- Questioning Skills: 29 percent
- Need Dialogue: 26 percent
- Solution Dialogue: 19 percent
High Performance Selling:
- Cross Selling: 44 percent
- Resolving Resistance: 32 percent
- Executive Dialogue: 26 percent
PwC: Project Management Foundations for Assurance eLearn
The PwC Assurance practice adopted the Engagement Performance & Quality methodology (EPQ) to identify opportunities for project management efficiency and enhance the quality of the audit. The Assurance practice needed associates who joined engagements to have the same level of knowledge and the same level of confidence in how they used EPQ. eLearning would allow associates to take the training at their convenience and just in time, but it was paramount the knowledge also was retained.
For this reason, PwC built the Project Management Foundations for Assurance eLearn on a platform using adaptive technology. This method of training uses computers and other devices as interactive teaching devices and orchestrates the allocation of human and mediated resources according to the unique needs of each learner.
PwC contracted with McGraw-Hill Education (MHE) and its LearnSmart adaptive platform that focuses on mastery and confidence. With a focus on mastery rather than completion, this adaptive technology incorporates metacognitive theory—the theory of deliberate practice, the theory of fun for game design, and the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve—into an eLearn.
The platform sits in the cloud and allows multiple developers to access it at the same time. Therefore, collaboration during development allowed various teams to build multiple modules at the same time in an agile manner. Small teams (knowledge specialists, project managers, designers, developers, and psychometricians) designed, built, and edited in tandem within the system. Additionally, the adaptive system provided a range of media and interactivity options for authoring directly in the platform. This reduced the need for additional vendor resources with associated costs and time. Teams were more dynamic, with roles interchanging from author to developer to reviewer/editor.
In adaptive systems, learning content is consumed as specific knowledge containers. A knowledge container consists of:
- Assessment questions
- Learning resources
Knowledge of each objective is assessed via assessment questions. If the questions are not mastered, learning resources are presented to the learner as part of the remediation process. This cycle is repeated until mastery of each objective is achieved. Unlike traditional learning objects, these knowledge containers need to be planned and developed so objectives, assessments, and learning resources are bundled together. Each knowledge container presents a different learning style independent of other knowledge containers and, therefore, is adaptable to different learners.
The focus of the course is on a project management methodology for the Assurance practice. Therefore, learning objectives incorporate the importance of project management, methodology stages, and the business practices that result in successful implementation of the methodology. While courses often are focused on asking questions and providing feedback, the EPQ team acknowledged that associates may need more of a primer before jumping into the content. For that reason, PwC changed the traditional format of these adaptive eLearns to include a teaching component at the beginning of the modules. These teaching moments provide learners with context for the module being taught, and an opportunity to immediately apply their experience to the subject matter.
Without an adaptive approach, the content for this course would have been delivered in a four-hour, face-to-face classroom setting as the knowledge and experiences of learners varied greatly. An eLearn also could have been considered, but not likely implemented as a typical eLearn is highly structured and every learner proceeds through each step/page of the course in the same way.
Delivering the course using adaptive technology resulted in an opportunity to customize the experience to the learner with an average completion time of 2 hours and 42 minutes after 2,672 learners. At a blended rate of $125 per hour, the adaptive eLearn returned to PwC approximately $434,000 in chargeable client time. This does not take into consideration additional out-of-pockets costs such as travel and meals that would be incurred during face-to-face training.