Are you Setting Your New Insurance Producer Up for Success?
My observation of many commercial insurance agent/brokers is that they are more prepared for a new producer hire to fail than to succeed. I’m not just being provocative with this statement. Allow me to explain.
Typical scenario: an agency/brokerage makes a new sales hire and then throws a minimal amount of orientation and training support behind the new producer — maybe enrolls them in an insurance carrier’s new producer school — and then hopes for the best to happen organically. As if your new producer will, through osmosis or natural sales animal instincts, be able to:
- Begin to grasp the technical breadth of the commercial insurance profession.
- Learn how your independent agent/broker firm works and their role and task responsibilities.
- Self-generate leads, prospect effectively, and create an adequate amount of qualified new business appointments.
- Convince a prospect, once they get in front of them, to fire their current agent/broker so they can hire them and your firm.
This isn’t an easy profession at the beginning. Most new producers will struggle. I tell new producers that it’s unlikely that they will ever look back nostalgically at their first year or two in the commercial insurance broker career. Year one can be especially joyless and unrewarding (psychologically and financially). New producers, if they’re honest, will admit that they had second or third thoughts during the first year about choosing this career! The best new producer hires are naturally curious to figure stuff out and so driven to achieve that they will MacGyver through the learning curve and all of the first year trip wires. But why do we make this a bigger struggle than it already is? Why not lend your new producer a helping hand along the journey?!
We recommend that you support a new producer with a complete development program that focuses on leveraging the prospecting and sales skills they bring to the job and emphasizes learning by doing, that is, by generating new business opportunities and then working these early new business deals through the entire sales process with the help of mentors and experienced insurance professionals.
What Should a New Producer Development Program Include?
An effective, complete New Producer Development Program should be a structured program that includes these 4 parts:
- A Learning curriculum. We recommend a new producer complete an on-the-job orientation to learn about your agency’s sales process and understand the key people, systems and processes that will enable their success in your agency’s environment. The new producer should also, once they obtain their state producer’s license, complete a series of self-study online courses in commercial insurance. WebCE offers a solid curriculum of cost-effective courses. These online technical commercial insurance courses serve two essential purposes: (1) they enable the new producer to be more confident as they make prospecting calls; and (2) they bridge the new producer’s technical insurance development between the basics they learned to pass the state producer license and future (optional) participation in an insurance carrier’s new producer school AFTER they have been a producer for at least 6 months.
- 90-day producer business plan. Guide your new producer to create and execute a starter 90-day business plan. This one-page plan helps laser focus the new producer on targeting niches, leveraging their centers of influence, making prospect calls and setting prospect appointments.
- Sales Coaching and Monitoring. Conduct recurring weekly sales coaching calls or face-to-face meetings with the new producer for at least 6 months. The new producer is responsible and accountable for their own activity and results; the sales coach is responsible for monitoring progress. Have your new producer submit a prospecting weekly activity report to their coach BEFORE each weekly coaching call/meeting. This weekly accountability reporting is a great positive constraint for a new producer.
- Experienced Producer Mentoring. Provide your new producer with an experienced producer as a mentor, who takes an active interest in and collaborates with the sales coach on the new producer’s development, and is a source of advice and encouragement to the new producer. The experienced producer mentor will team with the new producer as a sales partner/closer. The new producer will set initial appointments with prospects, but will be accompanied on these first appointments by the sales partner/closer. The sales partner/closer will be responsible for proposing and closing qualified prospects, but also for using the new producer throughout the sales process to facilitate learning and prepare them for selling solo.
A successful new producer development program contains all 4 parts. From our experience, most commercial insurance agent/brokers struggle to sustain #3 (sales coaching and monitoring) and #4 (experienced producer mentoring). Certainly, these demand serious time and resource commitments during the new producer’s first 6 months to a year. But if you are going to treat a new producer as the valuable investment in the firm’s future that they represent and you want to stack the odds for success, you need to make the commitment in active, day-to-day sales coaching and experienced producer mentoring.