The recent spate of articles regarding what some have called “the crisis in recruiting” brought to mind an incident I experienced several years ago. A long-time friend called and asked if I would spend some time with her son who was considering a career change. She explained that he had been on our local police force for seven years and felt that there might be better opportunities elsewhere.
I agreed to talk to the young man and a few days later he came to my home. At the outset he said that his father, a lawyer, had suggested he consider the property and casualty insurance business, but his mother felt he should look at the broader picture; hence his visit with me. I asked him to tell me what he knew about the life insurance business. To make a long story short, he really knew very little about us and what he perceived was, for the most part, incorrect.
As best I could, I talked to him about the real life of life insurance agents and their relationship with their policyholders and clients. I talked to him about the lives that I had helped change and the businesses that my products had saved, using specific examples to make the point.
He then started to ask questions about what kind of training he would receive and how long it would be before he would begin to be helpful to people. I emphasized that we were not in the business of just selling policies, but rather we were engaged in the business of providing solutions to financial problems that most everyone had. The policy, I explained, was simply the funding mechanism for the solutions we suggested.
We spent two hours together, and he said I had opened his eyes to a world he did not realize existed. I also told him I had never sold property and casualty insurance so he would have to speak with someone else regarding that. He asked about companies and I gave him the names of four companies that had strong agencies in our area. In the two hours we spent together, I do not recall that he asked me how much money he could make or if a retirement plan was provided. He thanked me for my time and the insight I provided and said he would contact the companies I suggested.
Several months later in a conversation with his mother, I asked what her son had decided. She said simply, “He decided to remain a policeman.” Out of curiosity, I called him and asked why he had not pursued a career in insurance. He said he had contacted three of the companies I had suggested, then had given up on the idea. He said the people he talked with painted a somewhat different picture than I had. They stressed the amount of money he could make and the wide range of products he could sell. Solving the problems of people did not seem to be as important as helping people accumulate wealth. There was more, but basically, he said, they turned him off. I left the door open if he ever changed his mind or had second thoughts.