You probably think this is a horrific analogy and has zero relevance to hiring new producers. If that is the case, you’ll surely dismiss the idea and continue to train, coach and develop new producers your way. I hope it’s working for you.
My feeling, after working with hundreds and hundreds of new producers in our industry, is that the process of preparing a producer to be at least very good at their craft is not that much different from getting a freshman athlete prepared to be a contributing member of their team.
Just yesterday, I had a training class with 22 people. One was a quarterback in high school, one was a libero in college, and a third was a college linebacker. They were also relatively new producers in their firm with an average of one year’s experience.
To put this into context, I teach producers how to bust the incumbent relationship using their proactive services rather than relying on price, coverage and relationship. The firm I was working with has invested a lot of money in building out its capabilities in the areas of loss control, claims management, data and analytics, and rolling all of those features into a branded risk management theme.
By the way, hundreds of firms have done this. All you have to do is go to your competitor’s website, and they’ll have something that they have trademarked, like RiskManagement365 or ClaimsHarness 24, as a way of branding their risk management platform.
It’s good stuff. But the problem is that most producers have never become a student of the services those platforms represent. That creates an interesting problem for a new producer.
Agency owners are in their ear telling them, “We invest a lot of money in our differentiated platform, it’s called RiskManagement365,” but, they never demand nor have a plan to get the producer deep enough into the weeds to really learn what’s in the risk management playbook.
Back to sports: I asked the quarterback, “How many plays were in your playbook?” He said there were 80-plus. “How many did you have to memorize and be able to perform for you to get on the field?” He said all of them. I shot back, “Isn’t that virtually impossible to learn that many plays?” He responded, “Not if you are committed.”
I kept going by asking him how many plays are there in your RiskManagement365 platform? He said he didn’t know. I asked why don’t you know? His response, “We have all sorts of marketing stuff, but no real playbook. Not sure what I need to learn.”
I then asked the volleyball player a similar question about her college volleyball experience. “Did you guys have a playbook?” Of course, she responded. “Did you have to know it to get out on the court and play?” Yes, if not it would be a mess.
And I ended with the linebacker. “What about you guys, what did you have to learn? Did you study game film? Did you have defensive plays you ran?” Yes, yes and yes, he said.
We then talked a few minutes about their weight room regime; frequency, effort and technique. Again, as you’d imagine, a pretty tight routine to develop the athlete.
Few coaches would put an athlete in a game who wasn’t prepared to play. And yet, in our industry, we hire new producers, send them to a two-week course to get an overview about coverage, then direct them to their office or cubical with a computer and a chair and wish them good luck.
They are told: “Do the best you can to set appointments. When you get an appointment, let us know, and we’ll send someone with you.”
Is it any surprise that many more fail than succeed?
If you looked at this like a head coach, you’d have a playbook that you’d want your producers to memorize. As they memorized the playbook, you’d practice the playbook and coach them through their mistakes, helping them to embed the learning.
All of this is simply intended to build their competence, and confidence, so that when they are in the real game, they are ready to perform.
Now, if you grew up in the insurance industry, or if you worked for a carrier before becoming a producer, or if you are just an amazing self-starter and one who gets it done, you’re probably saying, “no one had to teach me to be a producer. I figured it out on my own.”
I would like to encourage you to think about this differently and take your new producers through the six steps below to get them started on their path to success:
- Goal Setting. Get goals dialed in tight; dials, appointments, wins, and revenue booked.
- Prospect Database. Build a database of a minimum of 200 businesses that underwriters want and are of sufficient size that if they write it, they’d want to keep it.
- Sales Process. Memorize a sales process. Role play it frequently to get it embedded in their vocabulary, and it seems natural.
- Differentiators. Memorize at least 12 proactive service differentiators.
- Cold Call Process. Teach them a process that boldly gets the buyer’s attention and leads to appointments, not X-dates.
- Coaching Sessions. Give them honest feedback weekly based on effort andactivity.
Go to Breakfast
If you don’t feel prepared to do this yet, call up a local high school football coach, donate $500 to his program and ask him to go to breakfast. At breakfast, get that coach to lay out his development program for his athletes. It will probably blow you away how much he’s asking of his players. It will surely challenge you to raise your expectations, be a bit more demanding and likely help you become a better coach.
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