I want to think of myself as a great father. If I’m not, I would never know until some kind friend pointed it out. It’s at that point I would get to tell him he’s wrong or accept his critique. If I accept it, then it’s my opportunity to make a change.
The same is true with hiring new producers. Everyone wants to feel they do a really good job. When a new producer doesn’t work out, no one looks in the mirror and says, “I stink as a hiring professional.” What they say is, “It’s difficult to find good producers.”
The fact is, it’s always been difficult to find good producers.
What is a good producer?
In the simplest of terms, a good producer is someone that will prospect frequently, sell proficiently and retain consistently. When you find someone that has all three, you found yourself a good producer.
Some people say it’s more difficult today than it used to be to find people that want to work. I haven’t really experienced that. My experience – having worked in and with more than 300 agencies for 25 years – is that most agencies are and have been full of producers who don’t like to work. As proof, go to the obituary section of Insurance Journal and other industry publications.
An agency seldom sells because it is growing too fast, has too many good producers, has amazing sales leadership and is making too much money. Those people generally remain independent. The ones that sell, for the most part, are the ones that have a stable of plow horses, plodding aimlessly in the pasture.
My point is that it’s always been difficult to find good producers.
What’s different is that in the “old” days of the wild west, when insurance carriers poured millions into hiring people as underwriters and marketing reps, they would then train those people for you. After that, they would put them in a car and pay them to come see you and be friendly. When you had a partner that was retiring and someone needed to take over the book, you had a ready-made retainer. You would hire them pre-trained. Some of them turned out to be awesome producers, but most were plodders.
What changed is that insurance carriers no longer have the gravy train, where they hire, train, then send producers out to you to hire.
For the past 15 years, you’ve had to do it yourself. No more plug and play. You actually have to find people that will prospect, sell and retain.
Hiring Process Should Be Shot
There is only one reason why I suggest that the hiring process is arcane and should be shot.
It doesn’t work very well.
According to Bobby Reagan of Reagan Consulting, 50 percent of new producers get fired or quit.
How do you change that?
Get rid of the old way and bring in the new way. But, don’t tell anyone that the new way is not that new. College coaches have done it for decades. The Navy Seals wouldn’t allow anyone to join them without doing this. It’s called an evidence-based hiring system.
Let’s start with the obvious part … evidence.
Would a football coach give a high school senior a $150,000 scholarship to play ball in his program without working the kid out? No, he wouldn’t. He’d make this kid lift to see how strong he is. He’d time him in a 40-yard sprint to see how fast he is. He’d diagram out a play or two and ask him how he’d handle that situation. Then, he’d send him to the physical trainer to make him stretch and see if he’s flexible enough. And the last stop would be to send him to the sports psychologist to see if he’s a nut case ready to destroy the locker room or not.
If the kid passes all of those tests, he’d get a scholarship. If he doesn’t, he’d be sent on down the road.
If you changed your hiring process from a meet and greet, to a meat and heat (just made that up), you’d find out fast what your candidate is made of. Put them through the grinder, and make them do stuff. Turn up the heat … put some pressure on the candidate and see if he or she can handle rejection. Give homework by making the person write a book report on your favorite sales book.
My favorite sales book is “The Wedge.” We make candidates write executive summaries. We learn if they can write; if they can finish an assignment; if they have enough recall to have a discussion on what they read; and if yes, if they can apply it to the real world. This is just one of the five exercises we coach sales leaders on to prevent having to say those awful words, “you’re fired.”
Ladies and gentlemen … if you are tired of a 50 percent failure rate, you have to do something different. If you want to know whether a producer has what it takes, quit asking him. Make him do it and look for the evidence.
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