Over the past several years, there has been a growing trend of teamwork among financial professionals in the life insurance industry. Individuals are forming “teams” of financial professionals to meet the needs of clients in a more efficient way. These teams are growing in numbers across the brokerage, insurance and financial planning landscape, and the trend is sure to continue.

Through my experience working with and advising over 125 producer groups, I have identified 7 key success factors common to the most successful teams. I will discuss each one to explain what the successful teams are doing.

1. Communication

Open and consistent communication is vital for producer groups. Since there are so many issues and activities that a team will be involved with as a unit, the need to communicate effectively becomes one of the highest priorities.

Team meetings are a major communication tool. At these meetings, the team has the opportunity to communicate and share the important details about the business, including individual appointments, closed cases, problem cases, marketing opportunities and administrative issues.

2. Marketing

Marketing plays a big role in positioning the organization to both existing clients and new prospects. A brand identity can be a significant tool. The team will usually have 2 choices: Use the identity or brand of the parent company, or do business as a separate and unique brand (referred to as a DBA). The point here is not what to call yourself, but rather how to use wisely what you choose.

A key initial marketing activity for a newly formed producer group is a client event that announces the team. Many teams have accomplished this by hosting dinner events, wine tastings, local sporting events or art exhibits as methods to introduce their members to clients and prospects.

3. Team Business Plan

A good business plan is essential for any business venture to take off and should contain a few essential sections: mission and vision statements, strategic goals (short-term and long-term), planned tactics, a marketing plan of action and a budget. Anything else that is important to your particular team should be added.

The business plan is crucial and sets the course for how the team will interact, operate and grow. This will be a unifying document that brings individual producers together with one main focus, one overall objective: building a successful organization. The plan should be reviewed several times during the year.

4. Complementary Skill Sets

Producer teams need to have a variety of skills and areas of specialization to bring additional value to their clients. That’s the whole point. However, some teams fail to excel because they don’t possess the necessary skills the market requires.

You will need complementary skills to grow the collective client base of the team in a meaningful way. The additional skills provided by others in the group can lead to new markets being successfully opened, new product lines being offered, a different sales approach or sales concept being employed.

5. Define Roles

Effective teams have specific roles and responsibilities for each member. It is important for each producer to know what is expected of him or her. This can sometimes be a big issue for staff members. How will staff members operate differently in this new format? These things need to be discussed and determined in order for producers to work effectively and for the team to operate at a high level.

For financial professionals, roles and responsibilities beyond their production requirements should also be discussed and assigned. Who will take on the role of technology point person? Who will be the go-to person for the team’s compliance issues? Who will handle the logistics for marketing events?

6. Coaching

Teams should consider employing an outside coach to help them develop their organizations. Coaches can provide an objective perspective to improve on what the team is trying to accomplish. A good coach who is experienced in working with producer groups should have the tools, processes and systems that can add tremendous value to financial professionals.

7. Reinvest In Your Business

One of the major shifts that takes place in the mindset of individuals who form successful teams is thinking more like a business owner and less like a sales producer. Part of this business owner mentality involves understanding that you need to invest and reinvest in your business. Spending wisely on things like key marketing activities, staffing and technology can be investments that reap a nice return if done wisely.

As individual producers begin to form teams, they are likely to be faced with the issues discussed in this article. The important thing is to remember that teaming up with other producers is a terrific way for individuals to grow their business in a meaningful way.