Pacific Life: iPads & video help power the sales team at financial services giant

April 28, 2014

Many Fortune 1000 companies have found an iPad-enabled sales team can make a measurable difference in achieving sales objectives. 

A good Exhibit A is Pacific Life, the venerable insurance company that has been a consistent adopter of new technology designed to make their sales teams more productive. With a nationwide, distributed, sales force of 86 financial wholesaler consultants, Pacific Life faced three problems common to many distributed sales forces.

* Onboarding – the time and energy required to ramp up new hires.

* New product rollout – not enough time to learn and absorb new product messages.

* Sharing best practices – the difficulty in capturing and accessing the right information at the right time. 

Using Allego, an iPad-based app that helps sales reps and managers improve the way they communicate, coach and share using interactive video, Pacific Life piloted the Allego iPad application with 12 wholesalers in late 2013. After completion of the pilot, the app was rolled out to more than 100 wholesalers and managers in January 2014.

Below are three examples of how Pacific Life addressed each of the three common problems noted above using the combination of iPad and the Allego app. 

1. Onboarding:

New external wholesalers are generally hired with more than a decade of experience, or, are sometimes recruited from the internal sales desk. In both cases, on average, it takes between nine and twelve months before a wholesaler is fully engaged in their territory.

Pacific Life was interested in finding a way to shorten the learning curve so their sales teams could be more productive faster. At a recent training of new hires, the Allego app was used in the following way: 

Before attending the Sales Process training program, wholesalers watched short, 3-minute or less, videos located on specific channels on their Pacific Life Allego iPad account.  

Next, they recorded examples of their "opening conversation" and shared this with their sales managers and training instructors. Sales managers, who were not physically present, were able to review and provide point-in-time feedback on the videos created by their wholesalers.  

The result of using Allego iPad technology in “near real time” was significant and allowed sales managers to have clearly defined benchmarks as a starting point for their new hires as well as being able to assess progress objectively.

“The ability for a sales manager to leverage their time and geography using a portable device like the iPad and a well-designed app is a game changer in our industry,” says Chris van Mierlo CMO, and Senior VP of Sales in the Retirement Solutions Division at Pacific Life.

(How sales organizations can maximize the payback from tablets will be among the key topics discussed at the Tablet Strategy conference in New York on May 6, 2014. You may be eligible to attend for free if you're involved in a tablet or mobile deployment project in your organization. Check conditions that apply and register now for a Tablet/Mobile Manager pass, or buy one of the remaining regular passes.)

2.  Product Rollout:

Over the past five years, Pacific Life has undergone a major transformation in its go-to-market strategy with the addition of multiple product lines from what was originally a single product-line sales force. “Previously the conventional wisdom in the industry was that it was not possible for wholesalers to represent both mutual funds and variable annuities because of the product complexities and different nuances,” says Mark Magnacca, cofounder of Allego.

“The challenge that existed was one of skill transformation – how to take a talented group of sales people with a proven track record in one product line and help them adapt to additional product lines.”

With the Allego app (see a screen shot of the app to the right), Pacific Life was able to take specific compliance approved content, such as PowerPoint presentations, PDF’s and other marketing collateral and add it to a specific product channel. Next, videos of product specialists explaining, the important elements of the new product, was also added to the channel. Finally, specific wholesalers were chosen to provide short videos of how they used the marketing collateral.

The result was a virtual recipe card for the sequence of using the best content from marketing. Allego let the sales and marketing team work together to provide only the most relevant content rather than having them waste time wading through a sea of content to find the few pieces they actually needed.

(For more timely coverage and insights about how tablets are being used in sales subscribe to the free Tablets for Sales newsletter)

3. Sharing Best Practices: 

A recent study reported what many sales manager already know – memory and the power of recall deteriorates rapidly if we do not reinforce what has been learned. Despite the best efforts, most of the good will and momentum from a typical sales meeting or training program dissipates within 30 days. The Allego app helped in three ways:

Prior to the National Sales Meeting, wholesalers who achieved Leader of the Pack (LOTP) – as a result of exceeding their sales objectives – practiced delivering their upcoming live presentation.

At the National Sales Meeting, these presentations were captured, recorded and then and added to the “Best Practices” channel on Allego.

In addition, specific wholesalers in each product line, who were among the best of the best – based on their sales performance – shared their own 3-minute or less product presentation with their managers who then decided which ones to distribute to the whole team. 

After more than five years at the company, Pacific Life says one wholesaler in the pilot, who was at the 50th percentile in August, ended the year in the top 10 percent.

“Sales managers are often skeptical about the ability of technology to deliver on its promise; however, most sales managers who have iPad-based, distributed sales teams recognize the enormous leverage of having everything they need at their fingertips in a device that powers up instantly,” said Allego’s Magnacca. 

(Mike Miranne, Senior Field VP & National Sales Manager at Pacific Life, will speak at the TABLET STRATEGY conference on May 6 in New York. Check the list of speakers and register.)

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