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Hiring A Producer: How Much Does Insurance Experience Matter?

Hiring A Producer: How Much Does Insurance Experience Matter?

When you’re hiring a sales professional in any industry, you’re taking a risk. Too often, you interview people, they respond well during the interview process, and you think they’re going to be fantastic—then you get them on the phone or out on the sales floor and they underperform. So what gives?

As the owner of Friendly Guy Insurance, I’ve seen this exact situation play out when hiring sales producers. Unfortunately, many new and experienced insurance agency owners will encounter this same frustration, because this part of the sales landscape virtually never changes regardless of who you are and where you are in your career in the insurance world.

So, how do you find new insurance producers who are good at what they do, avoiding that dreaded revolving door? Many in the industry believe you should only hire a producer with a ton of experience—but is that really the best solution? I don’t think so. Here’s what you should think about instead.

How much should experience matter when hiring an insurance producer?

From what I’ve seen in the industry, agents and agency owners should care more about a potential hire’s sales skills (regardless of industry or experience) than their experience in working with an insurance agency.

Need to improve your sales process, but don’t have time to reinvent the wheel? Download The Insurance Agent Sales Process Quick-Start Template and get proven processes in place today.

Would you rather hire someone who is a cut-above salesperson but has no experience, or someone who has experience but doesn’t seem to be a go-getter? (Tweet this!) To me the answer is obvious—you’d hire the cut-above salesperson and train them yourself. In fact, this is what I’ve done at my own agency, and our experience with these types of non-insurance sales pros has been excellent. For my dollar, I’d rather hire a young and hungry salesperson without industry experience and then train them with proven methods to capture my audience.

What about experienced salespeople applying for jobs?

Simply put, this is extremely rare in the industry. If someone is that successful, they aren’t likely coming to your agency for a job—they have their own agency. That’s not to say this never happens, but it certainly is not a common scenario.

On the flip side, you may find your best employees don’t have an insurance background at all. Just recently, a young man came to my door trying to sell pest control services. I immediately noticed he was aggressive and persistent, but at the same time kind and personable—and in my several interactions with him, I could tell he was going to be an excellent salesman. When he called me to follow-up about pest control, I actually proposed to him that he consider working for my agency! We’re currently interviewing him and plan to bring him on board soon.

This tactic may seem outlandish, but it’s really not! The ability to find good salespeople in any industry, and then train them to sell insurance using proven best practices (and without the baggage of another agency’s methods) is time-saving for me and my team.

They don’t have experience but have the “intangibles.”

In this real-life example, I found someone who knew nothing about insurance, but who struck me as assertive, aggressive, and professional. He’s extremely young—just graduated from college—and has never sold insurance before. But that didn’t give me pause, because I know we have the processes in place to make him successful.

To help him learn the business, we’ll bring him in as an agent associate rather than an agent. That means he’ll get his insurance license, but he won’t own the agency; he’ll be an employee of the owner who learns the business for two to three years. After that time, he’ll have the option to start his own agency franchise. While there are no guarantees it will work out, I think our chances are good.

The Insurance Producer Hiring Process Explained

Have other questions about hiring an insurance producer or about insurance producer responsibilities? Here are some resources that may help:

Download Now: Insurance Agency Hiring: Top Agents Share 10 Tips For Hiring Successful Producers

Topics: Insurance Sales, Featured

About the Author James Freeman

Picture of James Freeman

James Freeman is a native Californian with over 25+ years in consumer relations. Prior to Friendly Guy Insurance, he held many executive positions with various publicly traded technology companies. It was after the dot com bomb that James wanted to work for himself and started to explore the career of insurance. James quickly identified a gap in the agent/client relationship. After sampling hundreds of consumers, it was obvious that most insureds felt there was little or no relationship with the agent at all. From that day on, James decided his agency’s philosophy was going to be “we’ll treat you like a friend not a policy number.”

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