Nationwide Building Society

In spite of the ongoing success of Nationwide’s retail business, retail
sales management felt there was potential for improving the performance of its
experienced financial consultants. It believed sales could be increased in two
ways: firstly by selling more product without increasing activity, and secondly
by establishing long term relationships with customers which would consequently
secure ongoing business. To support this, the retail training team created the
"Increasing Profitable Relationships" programme, a four-day training
initiative aimed at the further development of experienced financial
consultants.

The design of the course was a joint effort between retail training and the
sales force together with some external consultation from Peters Management
Consultants. By involving sales in the creation of the programme, a strong
sense of ownership was fostered and subsequently the sales department was able
to report that every financial consultant wanted to go on the course. The first
course ran in May last year.

The training intervention comprises two days of theory around the softer
side of relationship building, followed by another two days in which the theory
is put into practice. For this, the consultant conducts a fact-finding exercise
with an actor. Results are later presented by the consultant to the same actor
on a review day.

Each session is recorded on video and focused feedback is given by both
trainer and actor as well as the senior financial consultant responsible for
the participant. The involvement of the senior financial consultant in the
training programme has proved particularly important ensuring that learning and
support are transferred to the workplace.

With 57 financial consultants attending by the end of March 2000, the team
has carried out a thorough evaluation of the programme using both numerical and
financial data. It created a control group selected from consultants who were
one place above each member of the trained group in the financial consultant’s
league table for April 1999.

Against this the trained group’s performance could be measured. At the same
time a cost benefit analysis was carried out, measuring both the initial
capital cost and subsequent running costs against measured increases in sales.

Company fact file

Team Nationwide Building Society, Retail Training

Number in HR team 60

Number of employees responsible for 8,000

Main achievements Efficiency in terms of number of sales per
financial consultant has improved by 18.5 per cent; annual premium income has
risen by 6.8 per cent per month; and the number of sales has risen by 11.4 per
cent per month. For each £1 spent, the trained group have produced £9.90 Annual
Premium Income over the subsequent three-month period

Priorities for next 12 months To increase the number of courses run
to meet demand. The programme has been popular and the team is aiming for all
experienced financial consultants to have completed it by the end of 2001.
There are also discussions about rolling out the programme to Nationwide’s
mortgage advisers from next year

Judge’s Comment "This is a model of good practice in training
evaluation which could be considered as a shining example to the whole of the
human resources development profession. As a result there is no doubt that the
training intervention has had a demonstrable effect on the performance of the
organisation"

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