A quarter of the industry’s producers are in process of retiring, according to a recent McKinsey study.
For agencies, this creates an urgent burden to effectively identify and validate new producers. While the focus is often on finding younger, inexperienced talent that can be properly trained, another source of talent should not be overlooked: non-industry executives.
Non-industry executives are leaders with successful track records outside insurance. They often transition into insurance producer roles looking for a change of scenery, attracted to the higher compensation and independence. Unlike inexperienced new hires, they typically already possess solid business acumen and an established network of prospects.
If you don’t approach them strategically, however, non-industry executives can quickly become expensive mistakes. Keep these strategies in mind to optimize the transition for these newcomers:
1) Teach them the operation. With their connections and business experience, the temptation is to start non-industry executives producing right away. But giving seasoned executives exposure to other sides of the agency business—especially claims—can provide a valuable foundation.
Build it into their training program so that it supplements rather than stalls their producer-specific training. Try half-day increments a couple days a week over a two- to three-month period.
2) Focus on building credibility with prospects. Sometimes, a new hire comes from a sales position in another industry where it makes sense to attack their pipeline right away for immediate prospecting. But that’s not always the case—and placing too much weight on an executive’s current network can be demoralizing.
Even if someone has strong relationships with potential prospects in an industry niche, they need time to establish credibility in their new role.
The best way to accomplish this is to learn the niche from a risk management perspective. Then, leverage industry knowledge to identify risk management gaps prospects might have in their businesses. Ask to share insights that will help a prospect’s business better manage risk.
3) Tap their non-sales expertise. Just because you’ve hired an executive to produce for you doesn’t mean you can’t tap their other expertise for the benefit of your business—for example, finance or IT. One of the best ways to engage a new executive is to ask them to contribute to other areas right off the bat.
Could they add value to any internal projects? Do any clients have needs in their areas of expertise, perhaps creating a revenue opportunity for the agency? In each case, be disciplined—separate those duties from their producer responsibilities and communicate expectations clearly.
Drew Yancey, PhD, is an advisor at Incite Performance Group.