AS INSURANCE and financial services companies struggle to maintain market share in a highly competitive and economically challenging environment, keeping top producers happy is critical. But it's also increasingly difficult, said planners at the Insurance Conference Planners Association 2002 Forum, an annual educational meeting that was held at the Fairmont San Francisco in July.
The general consensus that emerged in a session on sales retention and recognition was that, reduced meeting budgets notwithstanding, the competition to retain top agents is fierce. Six months later, in the first quarter of 2003, this is truer than ever. And as agents' time becomes more valuable, it's harder to get them out of the office.
How can you motivate the sales force in turbulent times? Try these strategies recommended by ICPA planners:
Conduct surveys to see where agents want to travel. The results might surprise you.
Building relationships is a real perk. Be sure to build in networking time for agents during the program — in addition to entertainment and education.
Use the Web for creative gift ideas.
Producers like to meet and mingle with the top brass and find time with the CEO to be very motivating. Throw a pre-trip breakfast with the CEO to help promote next year's program.
Hold sales contests in the fourth quarter. It's the best time to motivate agents who want to qualify for a trip.
Consider a “contest within a contest” for top-tier producers: additional rewards for additional milestones that are met, such as air and guest room upgrades.
These days, younger agents tend to come and go. A focus on training and development will help to keep them loyal. A program with continuing education credits will give them tangible value.
Give repeat qualifiers gifts that complete each other, like sets of fine luggage.
Send promotional items to agents' home addresses and electronic communications to their home e-mail so you can get the spouses involved. And get the office staff involved as well. If they are excited, they can help the producer along.
Consider high-demand activities such as spa treatments, outdoor adventures, and learning experiences.
Bring the top 10 qualifiers to the destination one night early for special recognition. This will motivate the sales force to work harder and qualify for the top 10.