Why Small Agencies Struggle to Hire New Producers

By | February 24, 2020

It’s hard to find a needle in a haystack, unless you know what you are looking for

The very best agencies that are committed to hiring new producers, who have senior leaders dedicated to recruiting, a bevy of internal resources and an assortment of training programs, have an average 42.7% success rate in hiring new producers under the age of 30.

This is according to ‘The Young Producer Study’ researched and published by Reagan Consulting.

Of the agencies surveyed, the median firm had approximately $23 million in revenue, with the largest firms having over $1 billion in revenue, and the smallest having $4.8 million in revenue.

Are we talking about David and Goliath? Well, almost.

How is a small agency with

$1 million, $2 million or $3 million in revenue supposed to get in that game and win? It’s not easy, but it’s doable.

There are no secrets for those that want to learn. What you want to do has been done by many others; you just have to find a model that works and make it work for you.

So, I’m going to do my best, in just a few paragraphs, to lay out a model that small agencies are using to beat the odds — to slay Goliath and grow their firms with new producers (many of whom are young).

If you break this down into a structured approach, you have to do these tasks: You have to locate, recruit, assess, hire, train and then develop your new producers.

Locate

It’s hard to find a needle in a haystack, unless you know what you are looking for. So, the first step is to define: What is a producer? What are the characteristics of someone that has a high probability of being successful in this business? If you could find someone that is smart (intelligent), driven (goal-oriented), good at relationships (good social skills), disciplined (ability to persist in the face of adversity) and curious (desire to learn), what is the chance the person would be successful?

When you get a picture of it in your mind and then transfer it to paper, you can start to create a really solid avatar of the person you are looking for. And then, write a solid job description.

Recruit

There are many ways to recruit the talent you are looking for, and it’s mostly driven by your financial resources. If you are willing to spend the money, you can hire a recruiter. Recruiters work one of two ways: You buy a predetermined number of hours, and they become almost like an in-house recruiter, working those hours for you each week to find talent. There are also plenty of recruiters who only get paid when they place someone. However, you can do a lot of do-it-yourself recruiting through colleges, your own network of clients, your staff and carrier relationships.

Assess

How do you do an MRI on a producer candidate so you can get inside the person’s heart and brain and find out what he or he is all about? There are “3 dimensions of success” — Can do, will do and follow-through.

Can do. Do they have the skills, knowledge and experience to do the job? And, if they don’t have the skills and knowledge, do you have the resources to train them? If they don’t have the skills (to prospect, make cold calls and set appointments, sell, find pain, gain commitments and close the sale), then it’s obvious you have to train them.

Will do. Part two of the assessment is “Will do,” in other words, do they have the personality characteristics to do this kind of job? The most important personality characteristics are intensity and drive, or said differently, it’s a restlessness or impatience, as in, “I gotta make something happen.” If you hire producers that are not goal-oriented, that are not stirring to go make it happen, then you’re probably making a mistake. They could be a great account manager, but probably not a high-level producer.

Follow-through. Part three of the assessment is “follow-through,” or as Angela Duckworth referred to it in her book, GRIT: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, GRIT is the ability to persist in the face of adversity. It’s no real secret that the top 5% of performers are willing to do what the bottom 95% of performers won’t do.

In summary, you are assessing to determine, “Can they do it?” Do they have the skills? If not, you must be prepared to train them. “Will they do it?” is baked into their personality. Are they driven to make things happen? If not, you’ll see them hanging around their office a lot, and not out selling. And last: Do they have what is called impulse control? Meaning this: Creative, driven people can go off the rails, and if they don’t have the ability to rein it back in, they’ll easily end up somewhere you don’t want them to be. If they pass the assessment, hire them.

Hire

When you hire, put a contract in place spelling out the conditions of being a producer at your firm. List your learning schedule, their commitment to using your resources and tools, along with a validation schedule conveying their compensation. Eliminate all the ambiguity you can and make it specific.

Train

You just hired a salesperson, so teach and train them to prospect and sell. You just hired a salesperson who is selling your services, if you have them, so train them in your loss control and claims management processes. And, you just hired a producer that is selling insurance, so you obviously have to get them on track to learning about coverage.

I put that last on the list, not because it’s the least important, but because too many times agency owners skip the prospecting and selling skills in lieu of the technical skills. That is a mistake. You hired a salesperson, so teach them to sell.

It might feel a little overwhelming at first, but so was getting married, having kids, planning your financial future, starting your agency and many more things in your life. This is just another one of them.

And consider this — if you don’t perfect this skill, what will your agency look like in three to five years?

About Randy Schwantz

Schwantz is founder of The Wedge Group. Phone: 214-446-3209. Website: www.thewedge.net. Email: randy@thewedge.net More from Randy Schwantz

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