We're not talking about movie moguls of course. The “great producers” referred to here are those who make the sales, bring in new business and keep clients satisfied in agencies across the country.
According to Property Casualty 360, firms recruiting the best-producing prospects must heed several important factors. Otherwise, firms risk falling into the pit of failure; nearly half of new producer hires last a year or less on the job.
Define your Agency's Hiring Needs
Prior to any employee search, figure out what the firm needs. Go beyond just determining seven people are needed in the sales division. Rather, look at specific qualifications that distinguish potential producers. Someone with a technical background better suits a tech company, just as someone with several languages under their belt is a valuable asset in a multi-cultural area.
Defining hiring needs helps create useful job descriptions, ones that contain specifics on qualifications, experience and education requirements. Beyond that, the process helps hone the concept of the perfect person to deal with specific situations commonly encountered with clients and competitors.
Identify the Type of Hire that Best Fits the Firm
Consider company culture issues. Some good producers are brash, with strong personalities, unafraid to push boundaries others consider dear. Some may feel put out by them, resenting their presence. Often, a new hire may have very different ideas and practices for producing business. Times change, as do business tactics. A new producer with fresh approaches may be just what a firm needs, but adjusting to his or her presence may present issues.
Traits of Great Insurance Producers
InsightSquared recommends looking for the following things in evaluating potential producing hires:
- The ability to be conscientious
- A willingness to be coached
- Possessing intelligence
- A record of previous successes
- A sense of passion
In terms of being conscientious, it is all about getting the job done. Call it grit, stick-to-itiveness or plain stubbornness. Being conscientious means doing the job you promised to do. Combine that with someone who can put their ego in check long enough to accept some well-presented, useful coaching and then the beginnings of a great producer take shape.
You want smart people working for you. Some people are so glib that they hide their lack of true intelligence until really put to the test in real-life situations. Sometimes, intelligence can be determined by evaluating the candidate’s prior successes. Not all candidates will have industry specific successes to offer, however. New graduates may lack these experiences, but often, their school activities give an indication of their potential for success.
Place a value on passion, as well. There is a reason why so many producers seem to take up all the space in a room. Successful people have a passion for what they do. Nothing can replace that quality.
Firms at a total loss regarding what to look for in a job candidate might consider asking their clients what they prefer in salespeople they deal with. As suggested by Geoffrey James in an article in Inc.com, “The more you find out about the environment in which your sales rep will be selling, the better you'll be able to decide whether a particular candidate is right for the job.”
Have a Plan for Attracting the Best Candidates
Attracting a great producer may entail sprucing up a business, from clearing out non-productive employees to remodeling the offices. Hand in hand with creating an environment where prospective hires will want to come to work is identifying sources of candidates. Poaching from other companies is a time-honored method of finding new hires.
However, taking the high road never hurts. Look to career counseling offices in area colleges for eager young hires. Ask around: Both friends and business associates may know someone who would be a great candidate.
Implement a Standardized Process for Evaluating Candidates
Many firms ignore the importance of figuring out what they need, even to the point of not having a clear idea of how to evaluate candidates fairly and efficiently. Even using different people to interview candidates results in different opinions on the same person. And some interviewers have the ability to present a position in a better light than others do. A poor interviewer could result in losing a great producer.
At the very least, use a written checklist of qualifications, experience and responses to industry-specific questions in every interview and other evaluation activity.
Invest in Training and Acclimating Hires
The hiring process takes up a great deal of time and costs money, from background checks to drug testing. Protect the investment in hiring by having a program in place to acclimate and introduce the new employee. Every man for himself is the stuff of sales legends, but the actual payoff of such an approach is debatable.
If the new employee has a good deal of experience, be sure there are open lines of communication on how their methods can be integrated into the company’s existing protocols.
You can also ignore all this and take your chances. But you may have to go through the entire process again in a year – or less.