As we recover from the recession, insurance companies are looking to rebuild and grow their businesses. LIMRA research finds that expanding sales capacity successfully increases market share. The question is, what is the most efficient and effective way to do this?
In my 25-plus years in the industry, I have found that we do a great job of training new recruits and providing recognition and reward conferences to top producers. But those producers who have been in the business between two and nine years are like the “middle child”—overlooked and underserved. Typically, they are offered little to no training or development. But research shows these producers represent the greatest opportunity for a company to build sales capacity. Recently, I have seen companies taking a closer look at how to better support these “lost souls,” as one insurance executive called them. Several companies have developed small meetings where about 30 producers are provided marketing, practice management, and other professional training that will help them be more successful. These programs are helping producers work on their business rather than simply work in the business.
Initial results are encouraging. Companies sponsoring these programs report that producers overwhelmingly appreciate them. They feel reconnected to their companies, re-energized about their businesses, and recommitted to their profession. In turn, companies are seeing retention and productivity rates rise—and, as a result, their sales capacity is expanding and business is growing.
According to LIMRA research, more than 25 percent of producers—most of them high-performing—say they will retire within the next five-to-seven years. The industry needs to do a better job of developing the middle producers, who have shown they have the capacity to do the job but need the tools and training to get to the next level. I encourage all companies to consider developing their own training programs for their middle producers. The return on investment is certainly worthwhile.
Delores Freitag, assistant vice president and director, talent development program, LIMRA International, designs customized training programs for agents, advisers, managers, and field-support staff for life insurance and financial services companies.