Starting a career as an agent or broker is not a sprint. It's a marathon.
Just like a marathon runner intensely trains before running those 26.2 miles, the most successful insurance producers are those who formally hone their skills through training programs from their first day on the job. Starting early is critical, considering that only about half of new producers succeed
Companies looking to train new producers should look for programs that not only teach new producers the technical insurance information needed to succeed, but programs that also focus on sales coaching and soft skills. Programs with mentoring to help new hires chart their career and learn their organization's specific culture add a personal touch and embed accountability checkpoints.
One such program that hits on all of these elements is The Institutes' Producer Accelerator, featuring Polestar, which coaches new producers via one-on-one guidance sessions and provides onboarding over a 25-week period. In successfully onboarding new producers and validating them more quickly than industry averages, we’ve gleaned a number of best practices to help companies put their new producer hires on the road to success.
Agency culture and priorities come first
Before a new producer unpacks his or her coffee mug on the first day, companies should already have a formal and individualized plan to best get the new hire up to speed.
For example, discuss specifics on who the new hire is and his or her background, and review what responsibilities the mentor and agency have in helping the new producer succeed.
See also: Why You Need Happy Producers (Part 2)
That mentor-producer relationship is crucial to a successful program. In our Producer Accelerator program, this manifests in the new producer working closely with his or her mentor and eventually presenting an at-a-glance business plan that identifies production, retention, efficiency and profit goals, as well as specific, behavior-based, high-payoff activities to achieve them.
As new hires progress, they move from frequent one-on-one sessions with coaches to group webinars where they interact with four or five other new producers from around the country. This gives up-and-coming producers a chance to compare notes and share what's worked (and what hasn't) with peers in a noncompetitive setting. As producers gain experience and share best practices, they develop sales and technical skills.
The key is to provide a program where new producers do more than just sit at their desks reading for their first six months on the job. While on-the-job learning may seem risky, when new producers are paired with a mentor and coach, they have the support system needed to make sure they do the right things in the right way – what we call getting to the high-payoff activities.
The benefits to employers — and producers
When formal onboarding programs with interactive, mentor-based training are used, employers and new producers share the benefits of validating producers more quickly. In fact, they benefit agencies in three specific ways:
Moving from newbie to seasoned producer
- Providing structure — Every agency wants new producers to be successful. The trouble is that principals and would-be mentors have books of business of their own and don't always have time to devote to a new producer's needs. Programs like The Institutes Producer Accelerator offer an agency's leadership the peace of mind of having a plan in place for new producers' success. And new hires, especially those just out of school, benefit from an established onboarding program. That structure is a huge benefit, especially for the generation coming into this career that is looking for more guidance than “Here's your desk. Here's your phone. Go.”
- Providing hands-on, on-the-job coaching — Providing new producers with one-on-one coaching with trained development consultants from outside the agency drastically increases producer success rates, according to research from Reagan Consulting. Confidentiality between coaches and producers is key to establishing trust and enhancing skills, just as we’ve found in our Producer Accelerator program.
- Providing clear goals with set deliverables — In addition to compiling and presenting a business plan, new producers should work with coaches and mentors to set production, retention, efficiency and profitability goals. This sets a clear path to agency success and gives producers a blueprint for charting their ambitions for the rest of their careers.
For development coaches, watching new producers find their footing and succeed is nearly as rewarding for the coach as it is the agency and employee.
See also: New Channels, New Data for Innovation
Speaking from personal experience, I think there's no better feeling than getting a call from someone bursting with excitement because he or she just landed an account after working on it for months.
Even when producers discover this career path isn't right for them, formal and extensive onboarding programs helps them realize that sooner rather than later, which benefits everyone--especially the producer. But a vast majority of new producers who go through our program are successful, as the program builds relationships and perseverance.
After all, successful producers aren’t affected by rejection. It’s a position that requires a commitment to building relationships, making connections and planting the seeds. If producers can focus on the right activities and persevere, we’ll give them the rest of the tools to make it.
Learn more about The Institutes Producer Accelerator