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