Selling Experienced Producers
The Grayling candidate is usually someone who is happy where he is. This person is doing well and is not looking to change companies, yet. He would not have answered an ad in the newspaper or attended your career seminar. This is the candidate you want to talk to: a candidate who is doing well but something may be holding him back or he is at a ceiling financially and professionally and doesn’t know where to turn. We need to approach this person in a different way. He is not a green pea and is not a struggling agent. This candidate will not just move for the money but he will be persuaded because of the relationship that will be developed through proactive recruiting.
“Selling” the advantages of a career in your firm and maintaining “selection” standards are essential components in recruiting both new and experienced agents. The process, however, for recruiting experienced agents more closely resembles the life insurance sales process than the procedures followed in recruiting an inexperienced agent.
The emphasis is on the selling component when recruiting experienced agents. The experienced candidate is much harder to sell. He has heard it all before, is a more educated buyer, may really believe that all agencies are alike, or that it does not get any better than his present situation. The experienced candidate’s verifiable track record is tangible evidence of his ability to do the job so you can concentrate on the bigger challenge, that is selling the agent on wanting to be in your agency.
The inexperienced recruit is clearly easier to impress, but it is very difficult to determine their likelihood of success. Recruiting inexperienced agents requires an emphasis on selection interviews and aptitude testing because there is no evidence that he can do the job.
When experienced agents drop out of the process before you decide to drop them, it is usually for one of two reasons:
1. Treating the experienced agent like a new recruit (green pea), or
2. Not following the same process agents use in the sale of life insurance.
Consider these similarities between recruiting experienced agents and selling life insurance:
I. BELIEFS. Agents operate with the belief that their work will benefit their prospects. Recruiting requires you to effectively convey your belief that your firm can enhance the productivity and satisfaction of the agent’s career.
II. PROSPECTING ATTITUDES AND HABITS. Agents are willing to persist with prospects that say and often believe that they don’t need life insurance. You also must be willing to sell and persist with agents who say and may believe that they don’t need to move. One experienced agent recently remarked, “I was content until I learned how miserable I really was, when I saw the career advantages this operation could provide.”
III. A SALES PROCESS—ONE STEP AT A TIME. Each of these steps needs to be established in order to move to the next step and a successful close. Like selling insurance you will sometimes need to return to earlier steps before reaching the close. Timely communication (immediately after each interview) between you and the recruiter will help you determine exactly where you are in the process with each candidate.
A. RELATIONSHIP. Establish a relationship that conveys trust (appreciation, acceptance, rapport, credibility, competence), and a genuine personal interest in the agent. A good relationship gives you a solid foundation on which to build the rest of the sale. Always make the agent feel like an honored guest. You may forget most of the agents that don’t join your firm, but they are not likely to forget you. Their impressions of you and your firm will inevitably be shared with others and will depend on the relationship you establish.
B. NEEDS AND WANTS. Agents need to stay prospect oriented, focused on (the prospect’s) needs and wants. Ask the agent about his work, and his goals for the future (professional development, markets, and production). Having established a good relationship an agent will be more open to sharing relevant information.
C. SOLUTIONS. Agents present product solutions based on prospects’ needs and wants. Managers present variables that will help an agent reach his career objectives. Many candidates will not admit that they are disturbed about their present situation until they see something better. Prepare “package sales” for each variable that demonstrates your agency’s superior (results, support, state of the art, comprehensive) approach to the agents needs. Appropriate use of these “package sales” may disturb a complacent candidate.
D. ACTION. Agents and managers help their prospects take action that will move them a step closer to fulfilling their wants and needs.
IV. SET THE NEXT APPOINTMENT. Sell and set the next appointment before completing an interview. This vitally important habit increases the likelihood that you will keep the candidate in process, is more time efficient than lengthy games of telephone tag, and demonstrates your personal interest in the candidate.
V. SELL FIRST, UNDERWRITE LATER. This is true in selling life insurance and also in recruiting experienced agents. Attempting to get experienced agents to jump through your selection hoops before they are disturbed about their present situation and excited about your agency will cause them to drop out of the process.
It’s only natural to hope that you are going to get lucky, and find super candidates who are relatively easy to move without taking them through the whole sales process. That will happen as often as it does in the sale of life insurance… rarely. Attracting good experienced agents takes a manager who has something great to sell and the willingness to sell it to reluctant buyers. Take short cuts in the sales process and you will lose good candidates who could have been moved.