If you’re thinking of rewarding your top producers with a two- or three-day trip to rest and recharge at an exotic location, choose well.
Without adequate planning, the best of intentions can go awry, placing long-standing relationships with these valued agents and advisors at risk.
This cautionary note was sounded at a Wednesday workshop at the National Association of Life Brokerage Agencies‘ annual meeting, taking place in Dallas, Nov. 17-19. The session’s mother-and-son co-presenters, Michelle and Dylan DeClerck, outlined during an interactive one-hour session on recognition and reward strategies for retaining the best life insurance producers — and for keeping the competition’s marketing reps at bay.
Paying top dollar
A frequent element of special event programs for producers is content that inspires: keynote presentations by motivational speakers. These people often come with a hefty price tag through speaker’s bureaus. Unfortunately, they often also don’t deliver value for the money, noted Michelle DeClerck, who is president and founder of Conference Event Management.
“People think that if they spend more dollars they’re going to get a better experience,” said DeClerck. “That’s not always the case. Don’t try to do what everyone else is doing; do what’s right for your agency.”
That includes allotting quality time to meet with producers. Tapping outside speakers to talk about industry trends, sales techniques or a living of a significance is all well and good. But agents and advisors in the field also want to hear from, and rub shoulders with, top brokerage execs and managers.
These high-level interactions, said DeClerck, have both educational and relationship value. Seniors staffers can use meetings and events to impart information about the organizations evolving market focus, as well as new techniques, services and tools to help producers increase sales and better serve clients. Quality face time also aids in reinforcing relationships with producers and keeping them loyal to the company.
Might offering cash and bonuses also have a role in an agency rewards and retention strategy? The DeClercks think not.
“When agents use a cash bonus to buy, say, a tech gadget, they’re not necessarily going to associate the purchase with your agency’s brand,” said Dylan DeClerck, a consultant. “There’s isn’t the same connection as when you buy something for them. Also, studies show that cash is a poor motivator because it has no long-term effect.”
Michelle DeClerck echoed the point, noting that a vacation getaway, in contrast to cash, create memorable experiences and “have a longer shelf-life.”
Though perhaps it will a bit shorter for some than others. That’s because the effectiveness of the rewards strategy will hinge in part on the ages of the producers who stand to benefit.
Studies show that cash is a poor motivator because it has no long-term effect, says Dylan DeClerck. (Photo: Thinkstock)
Catering to millennials
She noted that millennials generally need to be recognized and rewarded more frequently — as often as every two weeks — than GenX and boomer-age producers. The sooner that happens after recruitment the better: Just 6 in 10 millennial stay with a job for 3 years or more.
“Millennials prize job flexibility and autonomy; they’re not necessarily looking for a long-term relationship with an agency,” said Michelle DeClerck. “They also want customized content. It’s a different mentality from that of older producers when they started out in life insurance sales.”