ACG - Agency Consulting Group

The PIPELINE

A national monthly newsletter for agency principals dedicated to agency management topic

TESTING FOR PRODUCERS HOW TO FIND THE FOURTEEN PERCENTERS

Is there a Sales Personality? Yes. That’s why it takes a charismatic person to become a good salesperson. And, unfortunately, some sales personalities don’t end up in sales roles in their lives. What that means is that most of the salespeople we encounter do not have the unique set of traits that would only make 14% of them successful. How did they get into sales?

Translate that into our profession. We have a difficult time finding good producers for our insurance agencies. We advertise and interview. We look at resumes by the hundreds. We entertain anyone that the personnel recruiters bring to us.

BUT JUST WHAT ARE WE LOOKING FOR? Most of us don’t really know. We would like someone who is insurance knowledgeable, who has been successful in sales, has a transferrable book of business AND would like to transfer that knowledge, business and sales capability to our agency – in other words, Superman, who is there for us because we need him.

Unfortunately, every Superman we meet seems to have more than enough of their own forms of ‘Kryptonite’ – flaws that caused them to leave their most recent employer. But we all look for the person whose problem was caused by the employer rather than by the producer. And, yes, there are many agencies that don’t exactly “foster” producers, but they are rarer than any of us would like to think. So if we dig far enough, we will find the flaws that made them persona non grata at their agency or made the producer frustrated enough to leave.

We find that they may have insurance experience but lack the sales characteristics that would reflect well on us if they worked for us. Or they learned their sales techniques from the used car dealers and will say anything or do anything to get a sale (and a commission).

Too many of us hire them anyway rationalizing that we can always get rid of them if they didn’t work out. Three years later we are still losing sleep over a mediocre performer who is taking more out of the agency than bringing in but we are reluctant to pull the trigger. After all, we rationalize, they are better than nothing! No, they’re not! They are using and abusing your time, that of your employees and they are wearing out YOUR welcome to underwriters that always feel pressured to take non-standard risks at preferable rates.

However, the answer is not to avoid ever hiring producers, fearing a repeat of past mistakes. If we consistently followed that formula, none of us would be able to ride bicycles or have driver’s licenses.

The reason we have trouble hiring producers is that we are looking for the wrong things in our search.

We have helped hundreds of agencies bring new producers/Relationship Builders into their agencies by avoiding all but the very best and unusual insurance experienced salespeople and seeking, instead, people of all ages and experience levels who bear the personality and characteristics of a good salesperson and who has the right attitude. Personality and attitude trumps experience every time.

Is insurance experience essential? No. It is preferable only insofar that the producer would have no learning curve. A new salesperson may require from one to three years learning the insurance business. A good insurance professional who has poor sales skills will NEVER become a good salesperson.

Is a book of business essential when hiring a new producer? No. Anyone who is tempted to complete a hire because he thinks that the book of business will support the producer will often find himself on the short end of the stick. Get a written statement at the first meeting that the producer is free to take the book of business. If you don’t you will often find yourself “served” legal documents asking that you ‘Cease and Desist’ from taking the business of another agent in opposition to their non-compete agreement. Whether this ends well for you and the producer or not, it will be messy, expensive and will not reflect well with the clients that don’t want any legal entanglements with their insurance agents. Quite often, the clients will be lost to both parties.

Even if you are assured that the business belongs to the producer, will you be “buying” it from him? The chances are that he is ‘parking’ the business with you until and unless he finds a better home. Never broker business. It’s a losing proposition for you in the long run and it only responds to your greed and desperation for growth. Finally, be aware that the producer who brings in his own accounts will always have more loyalty to those accounts than to you and accounts that you may assign to him.

So, if you’re not looking for an experience insurance producer with a book of business, what ARE you seeking when trying to hire producers for your agency?

YOU ARE SEEKING THE PERSONALITY DYNAMICS THAT IDENTIFY THE PERSON AS A “FOURTEEN-PERCENTER,” someone who has the personality to succeed in sales?

What are those Personality Dynamics?

1. They don’t take “NO” personally

2. They are Empathetic.

3. They have a strong Ego Drive

4. They express Commitment verging on obsession

5. They are always Goal Driven

6. They are Energized

7. They are Sociable

8. They are Dependable

9. They are Consistent

10. They are Courageous

11. They are Able to Improvise

12. They are Tenacious

13. They are Straight-Forward

Now that you know what you’re looking for, how do you find those ‘Supermen and Superwomen’?

The answer is already available to you.

You will still need to find candidates. But now you are looking for a “sales type” of person, not necessarily the same kind of person you have been seeking previously. Attitude and personality is always more important than experience, and never more so than in a producer for an insurance agency. Many agents are already strong insurance professionals and can teach a young producer the intricacies of insurance. Few agents are successful, sales professionals. So hiring an insurance experienced person and hoping to make that person a salesperson is less likely than hiring someone who tests well for a sales personality and familiarizing that person with the insurance business.

The ProfileXT Assessment is a Total Person Assessment that compares the person being assessed with the characteristics of the job for which you are hiring. I wouldn’t give the assessment blindly. But, if you encounter an individual that appears to be a good candidate to you in the first interview, I strongly urge you to access this tool to determine if the candidate fits the Thinking Style and Behavioral Traits that are most common to the successful participants in this group.

You can access ProfileXT through the Agency Consulting Group, Inc. website (www.agencyconsulting.com ) or by linking here. Through an agreement with the provider, Agency Consulting Group, Inc. clients will get a discounted cost for the service.