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StateCE: Online Continuing Education Courses & Programs > Insurance > How to Hire the Right People for Your Insurance Agency
How to Hire the Right People for Your Insurance Agency
March 7, 2017 | Insurance
Wherever you are in your insurance career, whether you are a single agent hoping to expand or an agency owner will a roomful of employees, hiring the best people is your surest ticket to greater wealth, security, and success. The best agents will find new clients in places you never thought to look. They will make money for you rain or shine, recovery or recession — and they will do it without blow-by-blow oversight from you. In other words, if you wonder how to grow your insurance agency, the simple answer is right in front of you — hire the right people. So why isn’t everyone hiring great agents? Because hiring a great insurance agent, or even a good one, is not an easy task. Obviously, you need to find someone who can network, sell products and close a deal, but selling insurance is not like selling widgets. Depending on the lines your agency carries, you may need to find agents with expertise in business liability risks, business succession planning, commercial property, life insurance, retirement planning, estate planning, group and individual health insurance, and more. At the very least, you need to find someone who can be trained in any of the skills they may be lacking.
How to Grow Your Insurance Agency by Attracting the Best PeopleIf you already have agents working for you, you might want to start by making sure you have good measurement tools in place to determine who your best agents are. Again, depending on the lines you carry, that could include anything from determining who brings the most new faces into the agency each month to who your top-dollar producers per client are, to a combination of both. Once you know who your best agents are, study them for clues to their success, and keep in mind that they might not be the same attributes that brought you to where you are. A quiet introvert may not seem like a natural-born salesperson, for example, but she might outwork everyone in the office or simply work more efficiently than anyone around her to reach better contacts. Whatever you find in your circumstance, those are the traits to seek in your new hire. If you have never hired an agent before, start with the basics. A college degree might indicate that a candidate has the ability to learn and complete complicated long-term tasks, for example. A stable work history in a people-related field, such as teaching, might indicate a strong ability to communicate with strangers or to convey complex ideas in an understandable way. A background in the types of activities you insure could ease the learning curve in some more complicated lines, such as commercial liability.
Regardless of whether you run a business with multiple agents already or you are considering your first hire, it’s important to remember that the best prospects are people who could succeed anywhere. You want them to come to you because they are seeking the best opportunity, not just a job. So you’re not buying a new employee — you’re trying to sell a job to the best. Here are some tips that might help you recruit the best candidates:
1. Know That the Best People Are Not the Most OutgoingA recent University of Pennsylvania Wharton School study of more than 340 salespeople showed that the biggest extroverts were not the best sales people. In fact, those who tested highest for extroversion on the personality scale earned 32 percent less revenue than those in the middle of the scale, while introverts earned 24 percent less. The takeaway lesson — your best salespeople will be outgoing enough to make new contacts, but humble enough to stop talking and listen.
2. Be Willing to Look in Unusual PlacesDid the guy in the electronics store upsell you on a pricey sound bar when you bought your TV? Did you see an assistant restaurant manager calm a table full of unhappy customers so effectively that you know they’ll be back for more? How did you feel about the woman who sold you your last car? Selling insurance can be a challenging job. You need candidates who are not just willing to deal with rejection, but who can turn it around and still get the sale. Great salespeople are all around you in your daily life, and some of them are hungry for the kind of financial opportunity that top-level insurance sales can present. So don’t limit your search to people who are already in insurance.
3. Develop an Insurance Agent Training ProgramYou do not have to come up with a painfully detailed plan, but you should consider the steps you might need to take to get a new agent ready for work. Whether you find someone within the insurance industry or outside it, for example, licensing may be an issue. Even a professional who is already working in insurance may not have the continuing education credits they need to obtain a license in the lines you want them to sell, so you will need to clear this hurdle quickly. It is important to have professional resources on hand to deal with these types of issues. StateCE, for example, offers continuing education courses in all 50 states and promises a next-day turnaround time for delivering credits to the state once your prospects complete their courses, which means less time wasted for you. In addition to helping your prospective hires get their licensing in place, you might want to consider putting together good basic lists of local networking opportunities and establish weekly mentoring meetings with your newest hires to make sure their progress is smooth.
4. Stick to Commissions for CompensationYour best agents will be self-motivated salespeople who will respond to the maximum opportunity, not to a stable salary. Do you want people who will drive themselves to sell, and then to sell more next month, or people who are happy to sit in the office and collect a check? Avoid the temptation to attract new agents by offering a low starting salary, or you will attract people who are satisfied with the low salary.
5. Align Your Commissions to the WorkSome types of policies bring higher commissions to the agency than others for a reason — they are harder to sell, often because they are more complicated and require more work to understand and communicate to prospects. If you are paid twice the commission for selling a particular type of policies over another, make sure your staff shares in the extra compensation and that your prospective hires are aware of the arrangement. The best among them will be attracted by the challenge and will sell more of what you want them to sell after you bring them on board.
6. Shop Close to HomeAgents who live near your office will know more people in your area — one of the keys to success in a job that depends on making lots of contacts. They will also be less stressed by their commutes and be more likely to stay late, attend local networking events or get involved in community projects.
7. Advertise for the Right Traits
If you advertise for help, don’t just advertise for help. Advertise for people who are willing to work hard to succeed — people who want big opportunities to fill their futures with more than they can imagine and people who love a challenge. In other words, advertise for the kind of people you want, not just for someone who could, maybe, do the job.
8. Train Your Staff to LookChances are, you don’t own the only set of eyes in your office. You can cast your net much wider if you train everyone in the office — not just other agents, but office staff as well — to be on the lookout for potential agents. Share the traits you consider to be the key attributes of success with all of your employees and ask them to let you know if they know anyone, inside or outside the industry, who might measure up. You might be surprised who that brings through the door.
9. Tap Your NetworkJust as you tell all your satisfied clients that their business referrals are appreciated, tell everyone who does business with you that you are looking for new talent. Don’t just tell them you are looking for help, though — tell them you are looking for ambitious, honest, personable people who are willing to work hard to succeed. Chances are, the best people they know will come to mind, and they will think more highly of you and your business. After all, if you are seeking the best of the best, your current staff must be the best of the best as well.
How to Grow Your Insurance Agency by Selecting the Right PeopleOnce you have chosen some candidates to enter your doors, it’s important to vet them properly before any offers are extended. Here are some tips for interviewing and winnowing your field:
1. Check Social MediaYou’re not just hiring someone to do a job when you hire an insurance agent. In many ways, you’re bringing the whole person into your business. You need to know that the people you hire are trustworthy hard workers who exercise good judgment in all of their social undertakings, including their life on Facebook and other social media sites.
Don’t hesitate to friend a potential candidate to see what is posted on their timeline or to check their Twitter feeds and other sources of social media. You may learn more than you want to know about their interests, habits and general styles of communication — but you’ll have a better idea of if their personality would be a match with your office.