Are you training to fail?

by Contributor20 Sep 2017
Preston Diamond

THINKING ABOUT starting your own agency? First comes, well, you. Then your carriers. Next up is E&O insurance (a must). Now maybe you’re ready to hire account managers. Finally, it’s time for producer number one.

But more often than not, that first producer will fail. So the question is: Why do so many agencies hire producers who fail? You have several major obstacles to overcome when starting an agency, and not hiring the right person is just one of them.

Giving the right person the right training is also vitally important. As Apple guru Steve Jobs once said, “You cannot mandate productivity; you must provide the tools to let people become their best.”

Obstacle #1: Lack of an automatic client acquisition program
You’ve found your candidate, a new producer you like, but who doesn’t have experience in the insurance industry. You tested her, liked the results and interviews, and hire her. But in-house testing can only go so far.

It is important that you now let the new hire ‘get in the game’ and actually reach out to new customers, to the point that it becomes second nature to her. This can only be successfully achieved if you have a solid client ‘getter’ plan, supported by an autopilot sales system.

By putting such a plan in place and thoroughly testing it, you’ve removed obstacle number one in helping your new producer succeed, which you will be able to gauge by how quickly she reaches her comfort level.

Obstacle #2: The need for instant gratification
Everyone covets instant gratification – owners and new producers. Instant gratification for producers promotes success. However, your new producer needs training, and the way to accomplish this is to let the training be hands-on. Let her shadow a successful producer, soaking up both knowledge and technique. Soon it will come to a point where she can read body language (a lost trait in a world of Twitter and Instagram), which often triggers getting the order.

Obstacle #3: Overwhelmed and pressured to produce
After this new producer earns her license, somewhere in her near future is an insurance school, designation program or both. But learning too much, too soon isn’t healthy – she will return with information overload, and may feel overwhelmed, insecure and pressured to produce.

Why not train your new producer exclusively comp coverage, regardless of the insurance company. Every employer (with very few exceptions) is a prospect. Applications are fairly standard and more quickly completed.

The underwriting is more consistent. Workers’ comp premiums are a large part of any employer’s insurance wallet; however, few employers and agencies spend much time on it because it is mandated in most states, there is no policy difference, and commissions are lower than with most other lines of insurance.

However, when done right, workers’ comp can and will improve people’s lives. So, consider no other training for at least the first year. No insurance schools unless they focus exclusively on workers’ comp. No designation programs except workers’ comp. If you choose another coverage, the same rules apply. You or another agency team member will be the expert in other lines of insurance.

Obstacle #4: Drowning in the sea of insurance sameness
If workers’ comp is your new producer’s focus, it’s time to build your Intelligent Distinction to stop her from drowning in this sea of sameness, and to become the go-to agency for employers you target.

You must be able to demonstrate your Intelligent Distinction. This does not have to be – nor should it be – insurance-related. It can be something as simple as how you frame a conversation. For instance, consider how “May I ask you some questions?” compares to “May I check a few points with you?” Which changes the conversation? Many customers feel “checking a few points” is not as intimidating as “asking a few questions.” Words that change the conversation in your favor are your life jacket to ensure you do not drown in the sea of sameness.