Top producers can model a strong work ethic and be a source of truth and insight for new staff members. However, the role of a producer is different than that of a coach or a trainer.
Are your best producers the best people to help your new and underperforming producers succeed? The short answer is no.
In my 16 years of working with agencies on initiatives to develop talent, only once have I seen seasoned producers leveraged effectively to help newer producers shorten their runway to success and inspire underperformers to new heights.
This is not to say that successful producers can't influence or inspire. In fact, they play a huge role in demonstrating the opportunities this industry provides and sharing the importance of the producer role in reducing risk and protecting clients.
Top producers can serve as examples for others. They can model a strong work ethic and be a source of truth and insight for those finding their way. However, the role of a producer is different than that of a coach or a trainer.
Building a Coaching Approach
In discussions with successful producers, I often ask the secret to their success. Their responses vary, but cumulatively I often hear phrases like, “I'm good at grinding it out, " “I don't take no for an answer," “I'm persistent," “I was fortunate to have some good mentors," or “sales is in my DNA."
These responses are more reflective of their character rather than how they achieved success. What often lacks in their responses is the process, the strategy, the step-by-step approach that helped them to become successful—typically because a formal process or strategy didn't exist.
Creating traction for new and underperforming producers requires a repeatable, coachable and scalable approach. Successful producers often aren't adept at articulating their strategy, never mind creating training programs that can lead others to equal or greater success.
To gain traction and accelerate performance, agencies would be better served in exploring ways to develop a comprehensive training system that includes a well-defined and documented sales process, a strategy for reinforcing concepts, a way to measure performance, and interventions that will ensure producers remain focused on implementation.
In addition, it is critical that the approach be scalable and transferable. Scalability will allow the training system to work with accounts of all sizes. Similarly, transferability will allow it to be used on any line of insurance or area of specialization. This helps socialize the process language and reduces the likelihood of lone wolves following their own process.
Focusing on Long-term Success Criteria
To maximize the return on investment for creating and implementing a producer development program, it is important that the approach ensures long-term success for the individual and the organization. Success metrics differ depending on the stage of the program and the program's maturity.
For example, most agencies I engage with want to see organic growth as a metric. Organic growth, however, does not occur after training alone, but only when behaviors are changed and processes are implemented.
A producer who doesn't have a pipeline or specialization, lacks insurance technical acumen and doesn't have a consistent and effective approach for prospecting or selling is unlikely to achieve significant organic growth in year one of a program. They should, however, show improvement in their activity-based performance, such as the size and value of their pipeline, the number of touches to a prospect and ultimately the number of first appointments.
With consistent effort and implementation, a producer's revenue numbers should improve in year two. By year three, a producer should demonstrate a greater level of consistency in their performance.
Agencies that want to move the needle on producer performance must take a long-term approach, develop their producers or hire coaches to provide much-needed support, and remain vigilant to any process they choose to create or adopt.
Susan Toussaint is vice president, Growth Solutions, U.S. with ReSource Pro. For over a decade, Susan has been training, coaching and developing programs to help insurance professionals overcome barriers to organic growth. In 2006, she started Injury Management Partners, and in 2009, she co-founded Oceanus Partners with her partner, Frank Pennachio. Today, she is a full-time trainer and consultant focused on developing products and training that help clients attract, acquire and retain profitable, right-fit business.