Your Best Source For New Recruits

Is Closer Than You Think

BY

One of the biggest challenges in this business is finding and developing new recruits. Where do you look for these potential producers? To find the best source for new associates to your organization, look no further than the office next door. Existing associates in our office are excited about recruiting new people to join the ranks of their agency.

But why should an agent be concerned about anything other than his or her own book of business? Among the many reasons is people who are part of a growing successful agency are more successful in their own practice. Here are some other key reasons agents lend a hand in the recruiting process.

1. Long-Term Viability of the Organization.

In a career agency distribution system, associates understand they are a big part of an overall teama team that must continue to grow. There are great rewards for those individuals who are part of a successful team and not just monetary rewards. Greater services are made available as well as better marketing programs to help associates get in front of more prospects. Associates understand that if the entity is not growing, it cannot sustain itself long term. Therefore, it is important to build an agency culture that motivates people to help you grow.

2. Having a Voice.

As a general rule, people want to have a say in who becomes part of their “team.” This holds true in most businesses, and an insurance agency is no exception. If youve succeeded in building a culture that motivates associates to grow the organization, they will want to bring their friends and prior associates with them. Describe to your associates the type of person you are looking foruse nonproduction termsand pretty soon youll have a list of pre-qualified candidates that have the characteristics youre looking for.

3. Rewards.

There are many incentive programs that exist to reward associates to recruit, but unless they truly believe in the organization they still wont do it. Focus on the true benefits of bringing someone on board, watching them grow and being involved with their successes. Often, experienced associates who recruit new potential producers will help in the orientation processincluding conducting joint sales calls with them.

So, as weve seen, there are a lot of benefits to the associate who refers good people to his or her organization. Furthermore, the benefits to the organization are obviousreceiving qualified recruiting leads from people you already have invited to be a part of your culture results in more successful agents and better retention.

In our agency, our only source for referrals is from our current associates. In fact, its the only recruiting activity we focus on. A big part of this whole process is the development of a positive agency culture, but where does that come from? A positive culture comes from the leadership style and value system of the organizations management. A value system that has been successful for our organization includes a number of different elementsincluding some of the following:

Keep your word. My father used to say a man is only as good as his word. Dont make promises you cant keep, be honest and tell people your weaknesses along with your strengths. People understand that organizations are not perfect. Make sure your expectations are clear upfront to avoid disappointments down the road. This is a passionate business, and people need to know that you have their best interests in mind. The bottom line is that people want to know you care.

Practice What You Preach. If you are going to build a values-based culture, you need to be congruent in every walk of your life. Simply put, lead by example. Just as when working with clients, if you are motivating people to take the proper steps to insure the care of their dependents, then you should be doing the same. If you want to build an activity-based culture, focus on the leading indicators for successdont dwell on short-term production shortfalls. This ties into my first point: Be honest and upfront about your expectations; people will appreciate that and respond positively.

Provide a nurturing environment. This is a tough enough business and it is not up to the agency manager to make it tougher for the new associates. In our organization, we are part-time coaches, psychologists and confidantes. We pride ourselves in providing an atmosphere where people can show up and do their best everyday.

Understand that production isnt everything. This can be a difficult lesson to learn. While recruiting a successful producer can add quite a bit to the agencys bottom line, it may not always have a positive impact on the agencys culture. For example, we were courting a producer who did a high volume of businesshe could have given us a significant amount of production. However, for some reason something didnt feel right to me. His approach to the marketplace just wasnt consistent with our values and culture. After the courting process it was us who said no to him. This wasnt easy to do because he would have made a big difference in our production, but it wasnt worth compromising our organizations culture.

Listen to your gut. Going back to the prior example, something in my gut told me from various conversations with this person that I should not hire himI listened. He was self-centered and had very little regard for others. This would have been counterproductive to the values our organization is built on. Not only was his personality not consistent with our agencys culture, it conflicted with it.

Have fun and be enthusiastic. Life is too short to not enjoy what you do and with whom you associate. Selecting the right types of people to join your organization makes your job much more enjoyable.

CLU, FLMI is director of development for The Teague Group, Charlotte N.C. She can be reached at Frattini_Sonda@nlvmail.com.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, March 19, 2004. Copyright 2004 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.