At a recent insurance conference, the topic of training for insurance producers was raised. Actually during the presentation, several quotes were provided that really hit the point on the current state of sales producer training. Some of the quotes:
"56% of salespeople receive no formal training from their organization" – American Society for Training and Development.
"salespeople must learn to work internally with their own organization in order to succeed with clients / customers" – American Society for Training and Development.
It certainly sounds like producer training is 1) essential for the success of the salesperson and 2) in most instances, this training is lacking.
Obviously insurance producers need training in a number of areas including the technical nature of the job. It is probably best for agency management to test the level of technical knowledge of their producers and to not "assume" that the producers know as much as they say they do.
Producers also need sales training. This will enhance their ability to be successful. Just because a producer has been successful (or say they have) does not mean that they possess the key elements of sales training. There are a number of great organizations that provide sales training (in my opinion, AIMS is one of the best…for full disclosure, I am on their Board). It would certainly be recommended that a sales manager accompany the producer on some random sales calls to know what they say, how prepared they are, etc.
Insurance producers should know intimately the agency they are working for. They should know the agency mission and vision and what the agency’s expertise is. It is important to not "over-promise" as a producer. This could get the producer into some potential E&O issues. In addition, if the producer focus is on selling the lowest price, how will this work during a hard market. As the old adage goes – "if you sell it based on price, you will lose it based on price"
Producers need to possess a strong working knowledge of the automation used by the agency. Insurance producers want to produce – they typically are not good at the documentation of their various discussions. If they struggle with the automation, this increases the chance that their documentation will be sketchy if not totally missing from the file.
Insurance producers should know the industry that they are working for and how it functions and is regulated. Issues like financial ratings and excess and surplus lines could be critical for some accounts.
Bottom line, don’t take your insurance producers for granted. Make a strong commitment to their training on an initial and ongoing basis. Without initial training and then reinforcement of the training, it has been shown that producers will revert back to their pre-training behaviors. This will probably not be a good thing.