As L&D leaders, you know that investing in onboarding programs is a business imperative — an effective onboarding program for sales teams can speed up an employee’s time to productivity by 6% and result in an 11% increase in win rates.
If you can link your onboarding program to the specific results it brings your company, you can win over your C-suite. At GoHealth, an online marketplace for Medicare plans, the L&D team developed the Captive GoLearn New Hire Training program to prepare new sales agents to be effective in their roles and improve business outcomes.
According to Jay Fortuna, VP of learning and organizational development at GoHealth, onboarding each new sales agent is estimated to cost the company $12,500. While this cost is significantly higher than other roles due to the longer training timeframe, GoHealth finds the value is worth the investment. “To get them up to speed really does truly mean ROI,” adds Fortuna.
Since launching two years ago, about 2,000 new sales agents have gone through GoHealth’s Captive GoLearn New Hire Training program. The goal for new sales agents is to be at 75% of legacy agents’ productivity within their first six months on the job, Fortuna explains. Internal data shows new sales agents are currently converting at 150% to goal.
Senior Executive L&D spoke with Fortuna about the metrics he’s tracking to show the program’s business impact and the reason onboarding is the place to start to gain executive support for your L&D initiatives.
Senior Executive Media: What’s the structure of GoHealth’s Captive GoLearn New Hire Training program?
Jay Fortuna: The program is a six-week training program… It is done in a virtual environment, everything is VLT from the facilitation standpoint, so virtual live training, but we do have a blended approach in there. There is e-learning… They can role play with an AI customer…who responds to verbal cues and follows required scripts. At the end of the role play, a comprehensive analysis is generated, evaluating knowledge components, soft skills, and adherence to the rubric… By leveraging AI, we have [reduced] the need for in-person, direct observation.
We also have a just-in-time knowledge management center that we get them caught up on. We teach them where to go to find information versus trying to shove every piece of Medicare [terminology] into someone’s head, which is absolutely impossible… What we’ve done is made them confident that they know where to go to get answers. This empowers the sales team to save time, as they no longer need to wait for a manager to respond but can independently find the answers they seek right from their desks. Furthermore, it enables them to provide real-time assistance to customers while on calls.
Senior Executive Media: What metrics are you paying attention to to gauge the program’s effectiveness?
Jay Fortuna: We’re actually truly tracking our biggest performance indicators of conversion, quality, sales, [and] our throughputs — so are people actually progressing faster now than they did before? Time to floor, our old program used to be 11 weeks… We almost chopped that in half… We’re doing it in 60% of the time.
We look at the proficiency of our facilitators. We have the scorecards we use and our team average is 94%, as well as an NPS that we track in weeks three and six which is a 4.8 [out of 5]… We doubled our capacity for trainer-to-learner ratios. Before, based on how we were doing things, we had a much smaller ratio. I had to have one trainer for every eight salespeople I was onboarding. Now…I can set up to 20 if I need to.
We have actually gone back and been able to pinpoint: What has training been providing to the business and how is that playing into our EBITDA [earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization]?… We built a significant…EBITDA lift into the plan based on new hire productivity and we have hit our projections quarter over quarter so far.
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Senior Executive Media: What advice would you give fellow L&D leaders on leveraging data to get executive buy-in to redevelop an onboarding program?
Jay Fortuna: Definitely identify what the measurements are that you’re trying to move through onboarding. In some cases, it may truly be the employee engagement scores. If someone’s doing [an] employee satisfaction score, that might be what you’re trying to move. But figure out what it is you want to move, and I highly recommend picking something that’s important to the business as a whole.
Learning and development is often seen as a cost center… The only way to be a strategic business partner is to understand the business and show them how you can be strategic: ‘You need to move X number? Let me show you how it is we can do that.’
Senior Executive Media: You mentioned that onboarding is a great place to start for L&D leaders to prove their effectiveness. Why is that?
Jay Fortuna: That’s always the biggest cost. When you look at a training standpoint, what does it cost me to find somebody, bring them on, take them through the whole hiring process, and then retain them? If I can chop down one of those biggest components, the number that it moves for the business, not only just from an ‘I don’t have to keep churning people’ [position], but if I can get them on faster and make them more efficient, whatever that is, it’s a lot easier for the business to come back and say, ‘Okay, we have this other problem. How can you help us solve this particular thing?’ So onboarding is definitely a great place to start with.