Most people date for six to 12 months before they ever consider getting married.
It’s how you get to know what someone is like. You get to know how they deal with traffic jams; do they stay cool and calm or become a manic driver darting in and out of traffic? You get to know what they are like at dinner when the wait person gets the order wrong or is slower than dirt. Are they courteous or rude? You learn how they treat their friends and family, is it with respect or disdain?
The problem with hiring new producers is you want to know many of the same things but have a very short period of time to discover it. You sure don’t have six to 12 months in most situations.
That’s why a 3-Dimensional approach to interviewing is important.
I’ve been around a lot of agency owners that have no problem admitting they don’t know how to hire a producer. Too often, they spend their time together, telling the new producer candidate about themselves, their agency and the industry.
The unfortunate part is they seldom find out very much about the candidate other than they are likable, come from a good family and have a good education. But that doesn’t mean they can sell commercial insurance, does it?
Even when agency owners use the approach of getting others involved in the interview process, the challenge is few of them have ever been trained to hire a salesperson.
Prior to the Interview
Before you start to interview, it’ best to start by determining what you want this salesperson to do.
It seems simple, but is it really? They have to prospect a lot, make a lot of calls, meet a lot of people, with one singular purpose and that is to set appointments. Ultimately, they have to set appointments or they have no one to sell to.
Secondly, they have to be good at persuasion, influence, both listening and story-telling. The bottom line: they need to get the deal closed. No one gets paid to quote. We get paid when we win.
Third, there is no use in selling it if you cannot keep it. There is an interesting fine line here. You want a quarterback to run the offense, but not be the offense. Meaning, this salesperson needs to be great at laying out a service plan, then delegating it to the team to handle so they don’t get caught up in the service world and out of the selling world.
The 3-Dimension Interview
Dimension 1: Can Do. Does your producer candidate have the skills, knowledge, and experience (can do) to do the job? And if they don’t, do you have the ability to train them? If not, their success is already jeopardized.
Dimension 2: Will Do. Will Do is personality and motivation. Do they have the fire in the belly to get up and get going every day with an intent to conquer their world? Is in it their nature to work independently? Selling is a lonely job. Are they assertive enough to drive the sales call to a close? Do they have a belief that they are in control of their own destiny?
If they don’t have a strong sales personality, you might be hiring someone more suited to account management, meaning they will struggle to do what is required to be successful.
Dimension 3: Follow Through. Follow Through is work ethic and persistence. It’s the ability to put up with the pain to get the gain. You see it vividly in sports. Football players in the weight room struggling to bench press 400 lbs. so they can get strong.
It’s the ability to push through resistance, stay focused, be persistent and keep doing it. Another word for this is grit.
What’s the most important of these 3 Dimensions? Well, it’s the one that’s missing.
If your producer doesn’t have the skills and knowledge to set appointments or close the business, and you don’t have the resources to train them, they will either fail or do poorly.
If your producer doesn’t have the personality characteristics of a high activity salesperson, they will passively meander through life and plod along. If the fire does not burn hot to achieve, they will probably do poorly. Think about how many book-sitters you see in the insurance industry. That is not the characteristic of a high-performing salesperson, is it?
If your producer does not have the willingness to endure the painful times of cold calling, or following up way more then it seems necessary, to close a piece of business they will not be successful.
So, how do you interview and test a producer to see if they have what it takes before plunging down a $50,000 commitment to bring them in as a producer?
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