Tag Archives: producer accelerator

4 Key Elements for Onboarding Producers

The benefits of a formalized onboarding program are well-established. Across all industries, companies use onboarding to achieve three primary goals, according to research from Aberdeen:

  • Engage new hires in company culture
  • Improve new-hire productivity
  • Reduce first-year turnover

In the insurance industry, where just shy of 50% of new-producer hires reach validation, these three onboarding objectives are closely related and even more crucial to the success of agencies and brokerages.

Yet, only 32% of companies currently have a formalized onboarding program, Aberdeen reports. As we’ve mentioned previously, onboarding programs must be formalized to create any lasting, demonstrable effect. New producer hires must have a similar experience throughout their first several months on the job to determine which actions further the goals.

The proven approach is to establish a framework for the onboarding process that is required of all producers, complete with a set schedule, key milestones and benchmarks. With that focus on structure and schedule in mind, here’s an overview of The Institutes Producer Accelerator, featuring Polestar, a successful four-part producer onboarding program

1. Getting started — the first month

The first four weeks of any new job are a whirlwind. Producers are tasked with shoring up their sales expertise and insurance industry specifics while also ingraining themselves in their new company’s culture. Finding the right balance of these elements will depend heavily on the producer and his or her job history. A sales pro with little hands-on experience in the insurance business will have very different needs from a recent risk management and insurance graduate who’s never made a sales call. Similarly, a successful producer from a competitor may have all the knowledge and experience needed to succeed but may need to learn new basic processes to fit with your organization’s culture.

The best approach for most producers is to create a blend of training and refresher content on sales and insurance basics with a heavy dose of your company culture. Make sure that your program covers insurance topics, like client loss exposures and commercial liability, as well as sales and time management principles, like understanding the sales cycle and best practices for delegation.

See also: How New Producers Can Get Fast Start  

Producers should also be introduced to senior managers who can detail the company’s culture in the context of its business strategy, competitors and industry landscape. Most importantly, during the first month of a new producer’s tenure, he or she should be matched with a mentor. According to research from Reagan Consulting, 55% of new producers have a mentor—most often a senior producer or sales leader. Reagan researchers concluded that mentors offer the most help to producers hired from outside the insurance industry and individuals with little sales experience.

2. Building relationships — months two and three

For new producers, their second and third months should optimize their performance in their new roles within your organization. That means continued meetings with mentors with a heavy focus on goals and objectives, along with specific challenges facing your firm. It’s also a time to continue building insurance and productivity know-how.

The second onboarding phase centers on helping the producer establish strong relationships—not only with mentors, co-workers and company leadership, but clients, as well. Weeks five through 12 should focus heavily on refining producers’ sales tactics and targeting specific trouble areas commonly facing new producers, including asking for referrals and shifting from price to value when working with prospective clients. These skills are best learned in a coaching-call environment where the producer and coach role-play specific interactions and the coach provides highly tailored feedback.

3. Expanding skills — months three and four

After a few months on the job, new producers should begin to switch from learning material to maintaining their knowledge and staying current on the insurance industry and sales best practices. New producers should identify the industry publications they’ll use to keep up with the industry. They can also take advantage of webinars and other forms of group learning, where insight from other producers is often just as valuable as the material being presented.

It’s also a time for producers to start developing specialties to set themselves apart and present unique value to the organization. Producers should work with their mentor to select a specialty industry to focus on and familiarize themselves with industry trends, like data analytics and other technological advances.

See also: 4 Good Ways to Welcome Employees  

4. Developing strategies — months five and six

As a producer enters the sixth month on the job, formalized onboarding should begin to taper off in favor of more specific career guidance through mentors or direct supervisors. At this point, producers are probably not fully verified, but their path toward greater success and productivity should be relatively clear. Part of their transition to a fully contributing team member may be to start networking at industry meetings and seminars and providing unofficial mentoring resources to more recent producer hires.

How New Producers Can Get Fast Start

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:

  1. 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.”
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Moving from newbie to seasoned producer

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.