For young or new agents, one of the most direct paths to success and increasing compensation is aggressive production. When you demonstrate you can move the products and turn happy customers into delighted clients, you get noticed—and you get opportunities.
But the best producers have learned to avoid a few pitfalls. Here are 11 common reasons many producers don’t make it in the industry:
1) NOT HAVING ENOUGH TO WORK ON. Even if you're great at qualifying, learning to listen and asking the right questions, not having enough “X” types or sizes to work on will ensure steady decline in your numbers and your self-esteem. You’d be amazed how many producers have fewer than 50 prospects to work on for the year. For most, that’s a recipe for failure.
2) NOT MAKING A REQUEST. Whether it’s in prospecting energy or the energy to get off the couch and ask your agency principal, your account manager, your underwriters or anyone else for help, producers who don’t ask often will find themselves disappointed at the lack of attention. People aren’t mind readers. Make the request.
3) AGENCY LEADERS AREN’T REALLY ACTING LIKE LEADERS. Our industry is a "deep end of the pool" type of industry. We tend to have a “Throw ‘em in. If they paddle, they’ll make it” philosophy. But short-term pain in training recruits right will help them feel better about their efforts and managers better recognize the signs if they don’t have the stuff to make it. Many managers wait too long to let someone go because they feel guilty about not offering enough training up front. Save the time, the disappointment, the money and the blame.
4) AGENCIES DON’T USE THE RESOURCES THEY ALREADY HAVE AVAILABLE. You have staff that are more knowledgeable in key areas than even your seasoned producers. Let your team help bring producers along instead of hoping they pick it up by osmosis or in next year’s CE class. Carrier relationships, how to deal with difficult customers, great client service and coverage knowledge—don’t underestimate the education and experience of your service team.
5) NOT TAPPING INTO REFERRAL SOURCES AT YOUR FINGERTIPS. New producers have great referral advocates in existing house accounts that most agencies have on auto-pilot. New producers working a new niche program can go out with their cold call prospect list to those existing loyal insureds and ask, “I’m going to call on these accounts anyway—would you be willing to take a look at my list and let me know if there’s anyone here you could tell me about?” Referrals have the lowest acquisition cost and the highest hit ratios of anything you can be doing today.
6) NOT LEARNING THE PEOPLE SIDE OF THE BUSINESS. If you don’t think we’re in the psychology business, think again. We are in a service industry. We work with helping people, strategy, positioning and adversity every day. Isn’t it time to re-invest in a culture of learning about people?
7) NOT HAVING SOMETHING TO BELIEVE IN. I learned the power of vision 15 years ago when I attended a momentous four-day workshop. The experience changed my life and led me to empower others to have something to believe in. It’s no wonder that many producers and agency owners feel lost. What do you believe in? Is it evident in the physical and material circumstances around you?
8) ALL TALK, NO ACTION. Ever catch yourself saying “I’ve heard that before” or “I’ve seen that” or “We tried that—it didn’t work”? It’s easy to say “I’m busy” and complain about the lack of results. Producers and agency owners talk a lot about their intentions and often leave it at that. Commitment means making promises and having the character to demonstrate them through your actions. Do what you say and mean it. People will believe you the next time you talk.
9) NOT HAVING A PLAN TO ACCOMPANY THE DREAM. Dreams matter—but so does the paperwork to goes with them! Setting goals can be an exhausting process; that's why many of you have quit doing it. Be specific. Identify “by when.” Don’t tell me “in the next year” or “sometime in the third quarter”. Want to see progress, team? Ask each other “What will be done, and by when?”
10) NOT MOVING. C’mon, you’re going to screw up anyway! Even the best dreams are in your head and the best plans are just on a piece of paper. If you don’t have enough in your pipeline, you’ll know the very first week when you don’t see enough people. Can’t close any deals? Better get some coaching or mentoring on why people aren’t comfortable buying from you or your agency. Only the weak complain and stay stuck in blaming others. Get up; take a stand; move on. And be honest enough to change.
11) NOT MOVING LONG ENOUGH. Most buyers are ready to buy after 10 contacts and most of us quit at four, according to a recent study. Another study says 80% of sales close between the fifth and 12th contact. That’s a big variable. Here’s the point: If you make a call, leave a message, stop by, send a letter and then follow up, you’re just getting started. Don’t get discouraged—get determined.
Brandie Hinen is founder & CEO of Powerhouse Learning and will address the Big “I” Young Agents Leadership Institute in New Orleans this September.