The marketplace is changing; PPACA has created a tidal wave of confusion and opportunity while carriers are side-stepping and pivoting to find their way through regulatory detours and roadblocks. In the middle of this changing landscape employers are paddling up stream, often with one oar, looking for resources and solutions to benefit issues for their employees while trying to read the tea leaves of change.
For many employers they are finding less and less guidance from their previous advisors, many of who have moved on to other markets or products in an effort to make up lost commission due to the PPACA changes while dealing with a feeling that their contribution and value to the marketplace has either lost its luster or value, to the employer and to the carrier.
I don’t think we are seeing the death of the salesman, rather the defining of a role that has long brought value and stability to an industry. Professional salespeople bring energy, creativity and drive to a marketplace. There is a shift in the marketplace from carriers providing classroom training for new recruits to what was previously referred to as out-source training.
This is nothing really new in the industry; many carriers have fluctuated from having home office national in-house sales schools to mentor programs at the local level. They have provided various levels of management so sales people who help “field train” a new salespeople could receive some kind of override from the new business produced for a period of time to incentivize continued growth in the new recruit.
These in-house, carrier trainings were primarily supported through “captive” shops so in their view they had a built in ROI to train. The recent changes in the marketplace, restrictions on loss-ratio to commission and renewal caps have created, in the mind of many in leadership at carriers, a dis-incentive to support sales training, opting instead to move to a “broker” model, recruiting “volume” of sales people, counting on getting a little business from a lot of salespeople where support is scaled back to on-line, administrative and web-based assistance.
I’m not saying that this shift, which has been in the works for a number of years is necessarily bad, in fact it may be, to a certain degree, good business. What aren’t addressed by carriers, in my experience, are the skill level of the salespeople recruited and the lost ancillary benefit of having a salesforce who value the carrier relationship in proportion to the benefit of the “product”. What happens at a lot of carriers is they think from the inside out rather than from the outside in. The view is Broker Dealers and Agencies have their own sales training models and will provide sales training to new sales people they recruit so the carrier feels justified in providing webinar training, which for many of them they promote as “sales training” yet are really just product training…and there is a big difference.