Allego Customer Spotlight: Voya Delivers Personalized Sales Training and Onboarding
Welcoming new hires and giving them the skills and confidence they need has never been more challenging. Hybrid work has disrupted traditional training and the financial services industry—with its emphasis on personal relationships—faced unique issues.
Allego customer Voya Financial began using the platform in new ways during the pandemic to help them overcome these challenges.
As Voya’s one-person training team, Voya Financial’s Jeff Lovanio has his work cut out for him. He’s responsible for training and onboarding for Voya Investment Management, supporting a distribution team of 75 salespeople.
Voya Financial is a health, wealth, and investment company that provides products, solutions, and technologies. The company has 14.3 million individual, workplace, and institutional clients, and its products and services include tax savings plans, individual retirement accounts, and group life insurance plans.
Lovanio, assistant VP, distribution training & development manager, heads up a wide range of initiatives. He creates the curriculum, which is personalized for each seller; plans meetings and conference calls; and ensures the team has the training and sales resources it needs.
Because Voya has so many products and services, efficient sales training and onboarding are critical. Sales reps must understand each product, be able to access information quickly and easily, and know how to accurately communicate that to buyers.
Allego plays a crucial role in making that possible, said Lovanio.
In this Customer Spotlight, Lovanio, who is a 2022 Allego Ambassador, discusses how Voya uses Allego for sales training and onboarding, his role and how it has evolved, sales trends, the biggest challenges he faces, and advice for other training managers.
Allego: How did you get to be the person in charge of training and development at Voya? What experiences led you here?
Jeff: I’ve been in the financial services industry since 1998. So, I’m coming up on almost 25 years of industry experience, and it’s been an incredible journey.
I started as a financial advisor for the first seven years of my career, and then I made the move over to the manufacturing side. I worked with MetLife Investors on the annuity side for about eight years, working on the sales desk, managed the sales desk, and then moved over to MassMutual for a few years where I ran the sales desk. Then in 2016, I moved to my role at Voya. Here I’m a one-man band, if you will, in the training department.
I’ve always had that experience interacting with not only the sales desk, but also sales folks in the field. And I’ve always been in the financial services industry, staying on top of things here.
Allego: What are your biggest challenges these days?
Jeff: The biggest challenge today has always been the same challenge, which is I’m only one person. Because of that, I just scratch the surface with what I can do with Allego. Adding another body to my team is going to help tremendously. It is going to allow me to explore new things, new ideas.
[If we weren’t using Allego,] all of it would be even harder to do. Especially during the pandemic. We’d all get through it obviously, but technologies like Allego, video conferencing, and the ability to record things, and get them out at scale has been a tremendous help.
Allego: What is onboarding and training like at Voya? How do you use Allego to help?
Jeff: There are four main areas in which we use Allego. The first is meeting recording. We record ongoing team trainings and team meetings and share them with employees.
Second, we use Allego for onboarding. We create a customized learning channel for each new hire. It isn’t one size fits all. The content for one person won’t apply to someone else. I build customized training channels, and the content coincides with their two- or three-week training agenda. If they’re meeting with someone on Tuesday, the day before I give them a homework assignment in their channel and include a note that says something like, “Hey, why don’t you watch this? It will help you with your conversation [with Jack Smith] tomorrow.”
Also, the training is broken up into small pieces. On average, I probably load 10 to 15 videos into Allego. But over the course of two weeks, [new hires] will watch two videos a day. It’s not all day. Whether it’s homework or during-the-day training, it’s all scheduled. On day one, a person will watch [certain] videos, on day two, they’ll watch a couple more, and on day three, watch a few more. For the most part, people follow through and watch. And I can see if they’ve watched thanks to the metrics and measurement Allego provides.
We also use Allego for coaching. Managers use Allego to work with their own teams, helping them brush up on their skills and providing feedback using Allego’s watch and record feature.
And recently we started using Digital Sales Rooms to share content externally.
Allego: For sales enablement, who creates the content for Voya’s sales team?
Jeff: I do most of the administrative work for adding content. All of the superstars creating content are located around the organization. I work a lot with our client portfolio management team, and they’re creating content that goes out to the sales folks.
I also work with the marketing team and product team, who also create content. There’s a lot of natural content being created by all of the folks who have Allego accounts, and it’s distributed by all areas of the organization.
And it’s saving a lot of people time. Although they’re recording themselves, they don’t have to have the same conversation with people over and over and over. They do one training recording and share it, making things more efficient. For example, if someone is getting asked the same question over and over, they can record a video with the answer and make it available to everyone who needs it.
Allego: Has Voya’s sales team been receptive to using Allego? Have they embraced the technology?
Jeff: The feedback on the onboarding has been extremely positive. I’ve had more people than I can shake a stick at say to me, “Jeff, Allego has been a huge help.” The tool has been crucial in helping them learn. Partly that’s because I’ll record some of the meetings that they’re doing during training and put them in their training channels. Then if they need to, they can go back and watch the meetings they were in—in case they missed something.
For sales, some people have leveraged Allego to the maximum that they can. And those are the people who are more successful in general. There are some people on the other end that haven’t used it, and I’m not saying they aren’t successful, but you can see a pattern among the people who are embracing the technology.
I remember, four years ago, I was talking with one of our senior salespeople at our conference in Boston. I told the salesperson, who is a wholesaler out of California and has been at the company for more than 25 years, “One of the things you guys have to start embracing is virtual meetings. Virtual technology.”
The salesperson, who is a little bit more old school, said, “Jeff, that will never work in our industry. That’s not me; I’ll never do it.”
Fast forward, and she’s doing it, because there’s a new wave of buying happening.
People don’t feel the need to meet in person because of technologies like this. There are some advisors who don’t necessarily want to have a salesperson come in the office for a live, in-person meeting. That means they have to set up a virtual meeting.
It’s funny to see how that salesperson’s comment played through. People really embraced virtual selling or were forced to embrace it—because virtual is here to stay.
Allego: How is your role in sales enablement evolving?
Jeff: When I first started at Voya, Allego was already in place. But it was being used sporadically, and there was really no central person. Content doesn’t create itself, so I gave it the old college try when I got here. I said, “Look, we can do so many things with this amazing technology, and we’re just not leveraging it as much as we can.”
My role has evolved because of the pandemic and because of the need for and importance of technologies like Allego.
Using Allego, our onboarding now provides a quick and intuitive way for new hires to find really good information—to get people caught up. I call Allego our Netflix of Voya. We record most of the training meetings and have built a library of videos that people can go back to if they missed a meeting. It has accelerated the learning curve for people who are being onboarded or getting ongoing training.
Our training evolved to be a lot more virtual. We’re doing a lot more efficiently from our homes. We’re also developing new things with Allego that we haven’t done before. I’m going to be adding a person, doubling the size of my training team this year. Having that person work alongside me to help design curriculum will give me the opportunity to spread my wings and find out what else we can do.
Today, we’re still just scratching the surface of Allego’s capabilities, but the platform is part of our DNA.
Allego: Do Voya salespeople use Allego to keep advisors up to date on current economic issues?
Jeff: We do distribute some content via Allego. We’re starting to use external share via Digital Sales Rooms, so the sales folks who are out in the field are putting out content. It’s not necessarily market-related content because you have to be careful, and you have to go through compliance and get things approved. A lot of the content they’re putting out is more value-add in nature. They’re helping to coach advisors to help them build their practice as opposed to talking about the markets.
That being said, that doesn’t mean we haven’t used Allego to share a recording of a conference call or a webinar that we had with our chief investment officer who talked about the markets or the recent volatility. But the content was approved for sharing. If we’ve gotten approval from a compliance standpoint, we’re able to put it in Allego as a channel to then distribute to advisors. And actually, one of our equity teams is looking into using Allego to do consistent videos.
Allego: Have sellers been doing different things to maintain client relationships and keep advisors informed?
Jeff: During these more volatile times, sellers have reached out more. It isn’t necessarily to give a market update, but a weekly touchpoint to say, “Look, I’m here for you.”
Or it’s as simple as saying, “The link to my email is below. Reach out to me anytime.” You’re creating a touch point to say, “Look, I haven’t forgotten about you. We have a great relationship, and I want to keep the relationship going.” This kind of drip method helps calm people, especially when the markets are the way they are now.
And during COVID, when in-person meetings weren’t happening at all, those kinds of touchpoints were really important to keep relationships going.
Allego: What advice do you have for other training and development managers?
Jeff: Platforms like Allego are a major help. But they don’t run themselves. So, you need people behind it. You need people to create the videos that go into it. And that means you must create a value proposition that compels them to do it. Often people are resistant to creating videos, so you have to help them understand how creating them saves them time.
For example, if you record content that you’re talking about all the time and share it with people, you’ll get one or two phone calls instead of 15 phone calls on the same topic. So, it’s about helping people see the value as a time saver as opposed to, “Oh, I have to record another video.” The biggest thing to get people over that hurdle is to tell them, “Use Allego as a tool to help you, not as something that’s getting in the way.”
Allego: What is Voya’s workplace like these days? Have people returned to working in the office? Are people still remote? Or is it a mix – a hybrid approach?
Jeff: Our sales desk for the most part is back in office. Everybody who’s regional, who’s remote, they’re work-from-home employees anyway.
We held our national sales conference in Atlanta in late March, which was the first time in almost three years since we did our last sales conference. It felt good to get everybody together, and most people were comfortable attending in person. It was a great kick-off to the year.
We had some meetings set up virtually for folks who didn’t attend in person. They could join virtually via Zoom, and we recorded some of the meetings. Of course, those recorded meetings went in Allego, and we’ve been leveraging them since.
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