The insurance industry continues to suffer from a long-term trenda decline in the number of agents. At a time when we all know the alarming degree to which the American consumer is underinsured, this is an unfortunate state of affairs for both the industry and for consumers.
The reasons for the dwindling number of career agents are well known. People are being recruited into the business without having a realistic understanding of the career. Company and agency selection standards are often too low, and new agents frequently receive too little training, supervision and marketing support.
What can be done about it? At a company level, there must be a commitment to recruiting, training, development and net sales power growthin recent years, a number of companies essentially have opted out of the business of recruiting and developing new agents. Fundamentally, though, its up to field management to recruit and retain agents. Over the past 6 years, my agency has been able to transform ourselves from a slow-growth organization into a recruiting powerhouse. In that time, our agent roster has mushroomed from 44 to 127, and commission sales have more than quadrupled.
How did we do it? Below are 4 key elements that I incorporated into my practice that I strongly believe would contribute to any agencys success.
1. Involve virtually the entire agency in the recruiting effort. Agents need to understand that their long-term success rides on the ability of an agency to grow. I spend about 30% of my time on recruiting and expect that my sales managers, specialists and agency staff are all involved in recruiting, as well. We are advocates for what we do for a livinghelping families and businesses achieve financial freedomand that sense of mission is reflected internally and externally. The lesson for field managers is this: You simply cant delegate the recruiting function and expect satisfactory results over the long term.
2. Tap a wide variety of sources to identify potential recruits. Actively seek referrals from your own agents and brokers, as well as centers of influence in the community, including clients. Look for winners in various financial services roles, whatever their prior experience, who are seeking to get to a higher level of productivity. Why try to recruit a .200 hitter that you hope to make a .300 hitter? Why not go after the .300 hitter? Look for people who understand the concept of risk and return and who can balance multiple things at once– a good family life, a serious business outlook, community involvement and leadership.