This year marks the 45th anniversary of Symetra’s stop loss business. We are proud of our heritage as an early pioneer in the stop loss industry, but we are always looking to the future to best prepare for an evolving benefits landscape.
One way to do that is to develop new talent to propel Symetra into the industry’s future. This was the impetus behind the creation of Symetra’s Stop Loss Sales Rotation Training program, which is designed to train and develop employees who are just beginning their careers in Stop Loss sales.
Turning Needs Into Opportunities
At the time of the program’s inception in 2017, several of Symetra’s stop loss sales representatives were approaching retirement. “We had a lot of tenured salespeople for which we needed a succession plan while looking to expand our footprint and distribution, and grow our book of business,” says Tom Costello, vice president of stop loss sales. As one of the chief architects of the training program, Costello wanted the next generation of Symetra salespeople ready to take over an open region or territory.
In addition to a succession plan, the program also seeks to develop a team trained from the ground up in Symetra’s services, processes and principles. “The training program covers everything; from systems and underwriting to sales techniques and culture,” says Jeffrey Ward, senior HR business partner and one of the program’s founders.
“The goal is to develop sales talent who know the Symetra product in and out, understand what it takes to be successful here, and can really hit the ground running,” says Costello.
The training program also presented an opportunity to reinforce Symetra’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I). “Diversity and Inclusion is a challenge for the entire industry, and the training program helps us achieve our DE&I goals by making our sales team more inclusive and diverse,” says Ward. “It also trains these reps to live up to our values, to know not just the technical aspects of the role but the cultural aspects as well.”
From Trainees to Experts
“Today too few carriers are committing the time and resources to train new stop loss industry professionals. Symetra is looking to set a positive example for the industry with the creation of our Stop Loss Sales Rotation Training Program, which lasts about 12-15 months,” says Sean Cooley, Regional VP of Sales & Rotation Training Program Manager. Each trainee, known as a regional group associate (RGA), is paired with up to 6 senior sales representatives who act as their mentor on a 3-month rotation. In these roles, the RGAs work closely with their mentors to learn all facets of the stop loss sales process, whether it’s delivering a new business proposal, implementing a new sale, or confirming a renewal. They also review best practices for underwriting and pricing, as well as claims and supporting niche markets.
Most importantly, the RGAs put their learning to practice through mock sales calls and presentations, which transition to live calls with brokers later in the program. “Each trainee is provided a detailed Sales Rotation Training Program Handbook to guide them through their mentorships”, says Cooley. “It’s been said that to teach is to learn twice. As such, our experienced mentors sharpen their technical and sales skills while at the same time receiving proposal processing assistance from their mentees during our peak Q4 season. This implied reciprocity is a cornerstone of our program—in addition to developing talent, we are boosting the productivity of our Regional Group Managers (RGMs).”
After completing the program, graduates are promoted to RGMs and enter the stop loss market with the hallmarks of industry veterans. “These graduates possess deep industry and product knowledge,” says Costello. “They exemplify the best of Symetra and will be instrumental in achieving long-term success in the market.” With the success of the Stop Loss Training Program, Symetra has built on its 45-year legacy and will help pave the way for the next 45 years and beyond.