The Horton Group - Sales Training or Coaching Program of the Year



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Company: The Horton Group, Chicago, IL
Company Description: The Horton Group is an insurance, employee benefits and risk advisory firm. We specialize in helping clients turn costs and risk into competitive advantage, and growing the business for tomorrow. Our business is about helping you achieve a higher level of performance. The Horton Group has the people, insight and innovation to get ahead of trends, and offer new ideas on critical challenges.
Nomination Category: Sales Awards Achievement Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Sales Training or Coaching Program of the Year

Nomination Title: Horton University Journey to Validation

Tell the story about your organization's sales training and/orvcoaching program since the beginning of July 2015 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms. Be sure to mention obstacles overcome, innovations or discoveries made, and outcomes:

At the beginning of 2016, The Horton Group established a new training initiative to help combat the dearth of organic growth currently plaguing the insurance industry. Recognizing that a considerable portion of the insurance workforce will soon be in a position to retire, the Horton University team has pioneered a sales training model dubbed the “Journey to Validation” that promotes retention. The key to the projected long-term success of this training program is its inherent sustainability. Instead of investing capital in acquisitions, The Horton Group has committed to a growth model that is grounded in developing new producers through the robust and revolutionary Journey to Validation program. This enables the company to cultivate true industry leaders who are highly specialized and well-established in their respective industries. Innovative training techniques are used throughout the Journey to Validation to ingrain Horton’s insight selling model in the daily practice of the rookie producers and maintain a level of consistency with the company’s sales.

The Journey to Validation consists of four stages of learning that provide rookie producers with the knowledge base and skills necessary to successfully progress from their first day in the program to ultimate validation with the company. Training within this program is characterized by a blended learning approach involving live, virtual and micro-learning techniques while offering real-time progress tracking and gamification.

The first component of this program is a Welcome and Pre-Work phase in which the participant engages in an assortment of preliminary work that provides them with foundational skills to ensure their preparedness for Phase 1. The majority of the coursework within the Pre-Work period is fully-online training completed on Horton University’s LCMS, Litmos. Additional pre-work involves shadowing and interview experiences with key members of the sales and service teams. As such, learners are able to participate in this phase of the program at their home offices.

Upon completion of the Pre-Work period, learners enter Phase 1 of the program. This Chicago-based part of the journey immerses participants in a rigorous training schedule during which they develop the base skills needed to become successful producers. At the beginning of Phase 1, Horton’s rookie producers participate in a three-week Sales Combine that arms them with the knowledge and skills necessary to begin their phone prospecting experience and cultivates a sense of camaraderie within the cohort. Next, learners enter the New Business Development Center and begin phone prospecting on designated campaigns for senior producers at the company. Each day, learners also participate in 1-2 hour training sessions to further develop their skills.

The Journey to Validation program primarily recruits from a pool of highly talented millennials. To best appeal to and engage these learners, we have gamified all phases of the program to foster intrinsic motivation. For example, gamification within Phase 1 involves the following: a Salesforce leaderboard, smart calling competitions, awards for the best performing producers-in-training, competitive monthly outings, and a decompression room with games to encourage competition during breaks.

Within Phase 2 of the Journey to Validation, learners return to their home offices to refine the skills that they learned in Phase 1 by getting a first-hand look at small business practice and exploring different lines of business. During this phase, progress is monitored and extensive coaching is provided by the Small Business Unit Sales Group Leader.

Rookie producers who graduate from Phase 2 of the program by passing a mid-term evaluation, final exam, and comprehensive performance reviews will move on to Phase 3. Within this final stage, the participant is further prepped for validation through joining a practice group and gaining experience under the guidance of a Sales Leader. After mastering key skills and validating with The Horton Group, participants complete Level 1 sales training.

We invite you to review the electronic portfolio provided in the supplementary materials section of this submission for a more extensive understanding of the Journey to Validation sales training program.