Growing the book of business is the name of the game. After all, when it comes down to it, an insurance agency is primarily a sales organization. But to grow this book it takes new successful producers. Unfortunately, 7 out of 10 new producers will fail. That’s an expensive statistic. And a small to medium agency can’t afford to take that kind of hit.
There are ways to hedge your bet and build a successful sales program. We’ll look at 6 ways you can support your new producers and ensure your agency’s long-term success.
1. Shadowing a Designated Mentor
You’ve just hired a green as grass producer. In fact, the last thing they sold was Girl Scout cookies, but they seem to have the fire. Don’t set them up for failure by sending them to their first appointment alone.
Product knowledge is important but how does the young producer present it and consequently sell it. There are first time nerves that come with that first call. It goes a lot smoother for the rookie if they’ve already seen an old pro in action.
Yes, they should go out on sales calls with the senior producer. It’s important to see what kind of interaction takes place and what kind of objections are put forth. But it goes deeper than that. How did the producer make the new appointment in the first place?
The mentor needs to walk the new producer through the process. This entails explaining how:
Making the appointment
What materials to take
What’s the plan of action before and after the call?
It doesn’t end there. Observe the new producer making their first appointment and then go out on the call with them. Once there, unless it goes south, be quiet. Let the learning producer take the lead. And once you leave the appointment discuss what went well and what needs improvement. Talk about the follow-up. This is important. One reason a producer fails is because they don’t follow-up on a timely basis if at all.
Make this commitment in time and training a couple of times and you’ll have a new producer that is confident and ready to run their own course.
2. Product Knowledge and Techy Knowledge Builds Confidence
What are you selling? Regardless if it’s life, health, or P&C, the young producer must know what the product is. It goes beyond handing them a book or watching a video on coverages.
All the selling in the world comes down to nothing if your producer can’t answer basic questions.
There are several training resources that a small to medium agency can use.
The carriers have programs. If you’re a broker, you probably are working with numerous carriers. Make some calls. Many have new agent programs. They at least have information available on their various lines.
Licensing: An Opportunity to Do More than Just be Legal
Licensing and the continuing education that is required with it are great opportunities to enrich a young producer’s knowledge. Don’t just have them go through the motions. Take the time to research what courses are available and match them to their needs.
With the technological advancements in the insurance industry, it’s imperative that the new producer be trained to use them. Take the time to walk them through. You want them out of the office selling and not at a desk. By teaching them early and thoroughly, they won’t waste time down the road constantly fighting the software.
3. Specialize in an Income Generating Coverage
This dovetails on product knowledge. Beyond the standard coverages, have your new producer specialize in a specific coverage. They could be the expert on Employer’s Liability, Marine or Aviation, Key man life, etc. Try to choose a coverage that is unique but can also bring in big commission checks.
They of course will be selling the standard lines, but this gives your new producer an edge over other agents who are only talking about car or life insurance. It will also instill confidence in your rookie. This confidence will only make them dig deeper and work it.
4. Be Fair with Warm or Hot Leads
Leads are bound to come into the agency. They usually come in on a daily basis. Often, they go to the most successful producers, the ones with the big book. Prospecting is hard. It’s demoralizing for a new producer to watch all the leads go to a select few.
Take a lesson from car dealers. Their salespeople have their “ups”. Each one takes a turn at a “lead”. Dole leads out to all producers in the same manner. This is a fair and equitable way of letting the new producer know that they are as valued as the seasoned producers. And it indirectly rewards their prospecting efforts.
5. The Quality of Your Account Managers Matter for a New Producer
This may seem like a given, but it’s not. An account manager can make or break a new producer. Often, they’ve seen a parade of potential talent come through. It makes them wonder how long this one will last.
When writing a job description for your AMs make sure you state quite clearly that they are responsible for working with all new and existing producers to improve service and product knowledge. Over time AMs tend to know the book extensively and may develop an attitude of superiority over a new producer. This is counterproductive so AMs need to be reminded that they are part of a team and, in fact, the new producer is a main part of that team.
At the same time set the boundaries for the new producer. Help them to understand that an AM is a valuable resource that they can learn from. The AM is not their personal assistant but rather a valued team member.
6. Young Producer Recognition is a Must
One big reason that there is high turnover with new producers is lack of recognition for successful performance. Salespeople tend to have expressive personalities. This means they like the spotlight. And a new producer is no exception. They need that pat on the back. A success is a success. Make a big deal out of the first sale. Praise goes a long way and builds loyalty. Praise should be both behind doors and on the floor in front of everyone.
Choose a benchmark goal and give a reward for meeting it. It could be everyone clapping and cheering. Or it could be a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant. Just something to let your young producer know they’re on the right track.
Public recognition is also important. Your new producer is important to the team. Make a big deal when they join your agency. If you have access to a local newspaper or relevant on-line newsletters, send out a press release explaining that you have a new member. If you advertise your agency, have your new producer involved.
Don’t Let Your New Producer Be Another Statistic
It’s expensive to hire and train an employee. Both time and a monetary investment go into every hire. Don’t leave your new producer on their own to fend for themself. Hedge your bets and be a good manager by providing your new producer the right tools to succeed.