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New Ecclesiastical study shows money spent on training pays dividends

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The potential for high quality sales training to improve development underwriters’ ability to generate new business was proven today by a new study published by specialist niche insurer Ecclesiastical.

Based on data from the first year of its sales academy for development underwriters, the results show that participants in Ecclesiastical’s new training programme increased the amount of new business they brought into the company by 13%. Participants also demonstrated a significantly increased degree of comfort with selling to brokers.

The data shows that for every £1 spent on training its development underwriters in its sales academy, Ecclesiastical generated a return of £9.39 in new business and £55.69 in gross written premium. Ecclesiastical attributed the strong results to the structure of its sales academy programme, the quality of its learning resources and the type of coaching used.

Ian Wainwright, Ecclesiastical’s broker sales director, said: “The results of the first year of our sales academy are impressive any way you look at them. “The sales academy was born out of desire to make a real, measurable difference to the way our people approach selling. Development underwriters have usually started their careers in underwriting itself and often find the process of selling uncomfortable or rather alien. We wanted to change that and arm them with everything they need to feel confident and motivated.

“Our answer was the sales academy – a programme designed to develop our talent and embed a professional sales culture. The results of this study conducted with Silent Edge show we’ve achieved that and been able to demonstrate how investing in training and development, if done well, can translate into growth of your bottom line.

“The academy is also an excellent way of attracting talented people to come to work at Ecclesiastical, which is vital for a specialist niche underwriter that often requires a greater level of ability in its people than the more commoditised insurers.”

Ecclesiastical’s sales academy training and development programme was launched in August 2009 with 34 development underwriters and regional schemes managers enrolling. Assisting in the running of the programme was Silent Edge, a leading sales performance company with experience of the insurance industry. During the next 12 months, the participants were observed in actual sales meetings by accredited coaches, evaluated and then given a programme of personalised self-managed development including coaching, psychometric profiling and specific sales orientated workshops. Participants’ progress was then evaluated again against a set of criteria validated by the Cranfield Business School, including their individual sales figures.

From September 2010, progress through Ecclesiastical’s sales academy will achieve a post graduate certificate from the University of Gloucestershire. Since creating the sales academy, Ecclesiastical has also launched academies for both claims and underwriting.