Many agencies are investing significantly in developing training platforms and initiatives, or outsourcing producer coaching and training to reduce underperformance and producer failure rates.
Investing in the development of new producers is not only essential for retention and growth but is necessary to ensure clients and prospects are receiving accurate, timely and valuable insights and recommendations.
Many agencies are investing significantly in developing training platforms and initiatives, or outsourcing producer coaching and training to reduce underperformance and producer failure rates. While these efforts are to be applauded, it is also important to ensure investments made are not eroded.
A common strategy used by agencies to develop new producers is establishing a mentor-mentee relationship. These relationships can either be informal or formal and typically pair seasoned producers with unvalidated producers. Sometimes, agencies pay a stipend to the mentor for the time they spend answering questions, supporting their mentees growth and helping them achieve success.
In addition to or in lieu of a stipend, some agencies incentivize mentors by paying them a portion of the commission generated through the sales developed by their mentees. However, depending on how the compensation split is structured, it can lead to misaligned incentives.
For example, let's say a mentee does a great job in developing a good flow of first appointments. Determining who leads the sales process is critical. Will it be the mentor or the mentee?
If the mentor receives a majority of the compensation for closed or won business, this could lead to a conflict. The primary goal of the mentor is to develop the mentee, yet they are being remunerated for closing business. In these cases, I have seen how a misaligned incentive can lead a mentor to be more focused on closing business than developing the skills of their mentee.
Still, new producers need real-life practice. They need to learn to lead meetings, respond to objections, navigate challenges and gain the skills necessary to compete. They cannot gain that experience if their mentor is always leading.
I'm not suggesting there isn't space to learn by watching. Modeling the right behaviors is important, but when incentives are misaligned, the mentee pays the cost.
Another scenario that often plays out, usually unintentionally, is when a mentor undermines the agency's established sales process. This typically occurs when a new producer is in a formal training program and seeks the advice of a seasoned producer who is not part of the training initiative. In their attempt to help the new producer, the seasoned producer either overtly or otherwise instructs the producer to follow a different process than is being taught. While likely well-intentioned, the outcome is a confused student who is uncertain of which process they should follow.
One of the benefits of an agency-adopted sales process is that it provides a common set of standards and procedures that can be coached. If the approaches are not aligned, producer confusion will ensue.
If an agency has developed a process that is intended for new producers to follow, it is important that all producers utilize that approach when coaching, even if they don't follow it themselves.
Mentors and sales processes bring tremendous value and often make the difference in a new producer's career. Aligning incentives and coaching consistency will ensure that less-experienced producers have the support and structure they need to enjoy a long and rewarding insurance career.
Susan Toussaint is vice president, growth solutions with ReSource Pro. For more than a decade, Susan has been training, coaching and developing programs to help insurance professionals overcome barriers to organic growth.