The Big Picture ~ One Of Many Challenges Faced In Recruiting Insurance Agents
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The Big Picture ~ One Of Many Challenges Faced In Recruiting Insurance Agents

When we reach the ceiling it becomes a floor but it does not change the fact. We always want to grow beyond what we have already achieved in the past and continue in the path towards bigger and greater excellence. In my brief career span in the financial services industry I was baffled to figure out why such a challenging yet lucrative career option is so hard to fill in that our industry managers has to go out aggressively recruiting and more so, convincing prospective candidates about the opportunities it promises. Granted it does not start with any fixed salary but so does most of the sales careers out there with significant earning potential.

Some of the common triggers that proved resistance to this career option does not equal to the greater possibility & prosperity it entails, hence there must be something that is probably missing to attract organically enough ambitious professionals towards this career path. To be quite candid if I had no exposure to the industry as I have today I wouldn’t be interested in becoming a financial professional even though I am very confident in sales and marketing. There is no doubt that it is a tough job that demands long inconsistent hours of work mostly prospecting and meeting with people and followed by anxiously making that closing sales pitch. But these are standard traits of any sales careers that one might wish to peruse, so why do people flock to some known sales careers rather than choosing to sell insurance and subsequently expand into offering more wide range of financial services. Perhaps a silver lining clue lies on the same direction as we face the same challenges in selling insurance, lack of “Awareness, Importance and Branding” of the concept not the product. To put in simple words not many people are aware about the totality of this career apart from the mere fact that it is a sales career based on commission. Needless to say so far the industry’s approach towards recruiting is just to recruit as many as possible.

To analyze this approach let’s apply this same philosophy and put it into practice, let’s say to sell some of the most desired commodity in today’s world and see how it might have gone. For this example let’s use Apple’s “iPod”, a brilliant product by one of the world’s most technologically innovative company. So applying that approach and market iPods we simply try to sell as many iPods as possible, may be directly to the consumers (Compared to Recruiting Career Seminars currently practiced by the industry), through displaying them in the shelves of the departmental and electronic stores (Compared to Recruiting Advertising on various news media) or perhaps try to market it through the word of mouth (Compared to the current agent referring to a prospective candidate, a program many companies practice to get name flows). So in order to obtain the largest market share in the MP3 music device market if Apple would have only focused in selling as many iPods as possible year after year through few different sources do you think it would have created such a strong brand awareness today around the world, probably not.

All this might just be enough to barely make this excellent product stay afloat and perhaps not known to many because of its lack of “Brand Awareness” initiatives. But because Apple creatively and aggressively created a demand through branding for a device that is packed with so many great features it turned an excellent product into a magnetic product, where people are naturally attracted towards it rather than making the product look attractive to them.

It might be possible to do a case study to demonstrate that people not only get turn off from perusing the career because it is a commission based job but also not much is known to an outsider about the career as a whole. Clearly the industry hasn’t done much branding about this profession but always expects to grow them substantially year after year. There is no question about the demand of qualified and knowledgeable insurance agent who is able to articulate in simple terms the financial complexities involved with any insurance products. So why is that we need to convince someone to peruse a career as an insurance agent but does not need to do that if the profession is a doctor, lawyer, engineer or any other commonly known profession that is both respectful in the society and financially rewarding. May be because people need to know more about the challenges and qualities the career asks for.

We know that any recruiter from any major insurance company spends majority of their time in prospecting and recruiting new candidates so the job to create brand awareness about the profession lies within the corporate side of the industry. Once we start thinking towards this direction may be many brilliant ideas and initiatives will roll down the meeting tables, some might work, some may not. But unless we start working towards it we don’t know which one will or which one will not. Through many creative and innovative ways and programs we might be just able to create enough awareness with the numerous possibilities that this career path has to offer and help our recruiters start a conversation with a prospective candidate about the challenges, values and rewards of an insurance agent’s career rather than spending time in convincing them to peruse the career, Let the industry collectively embark on branding the profession of an insurance agent.

I like to take this opportunity to share some of the constructive thoughts that came to my mind to validate my perception and perhaps we can all think on the same direction to add in more ideas and avenues to create a more brand awareness for this profession as individually we can win a game, but as a team we can beat the odds.

POSITIONING THE PROFESSION AS AN INTEGRAL PART OF OUR SOCIETY

Sometime agents often shy out from stating themselves as an insurance agent as they fear people might think they would try to sell them insurance. So, if the confidence level of a person is so skeptical about their own profession how can they move forward with this career path? Insurance companies need to collectively rally themselves to launch campaigns that talk about the importance and value of an insurance agent career in our society and make it look important through the numerous motivating stories often come our way about how an agent was able to bring back the peace of mind of a family or a person. Most insurance companies recruiting advertisement campaigns talk about the unlimited earning potential, freedom and so on. An Insurance Agent plays a very vital role in our society by helping people restore and retain their financial status despite of any catastrophic loss.

Seldom we have come across any material that states a captivating story about how valuable an insurance agent career is, when despite all the challenges and resistance an insurance agent manages to sell a policy to a client and then someday just to find out how that convincing conversation saved a client from losing everything after the loss of a loved one.

If we scrutinize and analyze the analogy of an insurance agent’s job it’s more like a doctor’s job, who recommends us to eat vegetables, fruits and exercise regularly for a healthier lifestyle but we often fail to do so despite knowing the outcome. But the doctor never gives up and continues to do the job of advising people with healthy life choices. An agent does the same thing recommending clients and prospects they meet to plan for a secured financial future and have a proper plan in place just in case anything unexpected comes towards their harms way. So, may be we need to restructure our campaign language not just to put the rewards and opportunities of the career but also bring the value towards it. A face lift for this career is immensely important to make it more prominent and attractive within our society.

FINANCIAL PROFESSIONAL FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM

This program is designed to directly brand and create awareness about the profession to attract talented prospective candidates who would otherwise have not come on board to peruse this career in selling insurance and financial products unless they were offered a fair understanding of the challenges, values and rewards of the profession and follow a career path without being worried about leaving their current fixed salaried job. It is surely one of the main challenges our industry recruiters face when they come across a very bright candidate but fail to bring that person on board because there is no such program to gain a working experience about the profession without actually perusing the career. This will enable our recruiters to meticulously select prospective candidates with raised standards and putting them into a structured process to walk them through the career path with the flexibility of keeping their current job and a potential to earn some income during their participation process.

Challenges in getting quality candidates on board

Scenario 1.

Our recruiters often tumble across some candidates who they think will make an excellent financial professional given their noticeable traits and qualities but was never able to convert that conversation into a probable recruit because the person might not know much about the career path and is not willing to try out something without leaving their salaried job or without any known fixed income.

Scenario 2.

Through this program we can help quality prospective candidates familiarize themselves about the business and the career path from the very beginning. This will help to find candidates who might be qualified for this profession rather than finding people to see if they qualify for this job. In simple words, we raise the standards in recruiting prospective candidates by having them go through a process of structured steps that leads to a career in insurance sales.

If we think that when someone goes through a process and training of becoming an army officer it is much likely that the person will eventually understand the challenges and rewards of the profession and peruse a career in military service rather than anything else, same thought process and philosophy is used in this program. We identify quality candidates and invest our time and money in them.

The is recommended as a co-op program between recruiters, where a recruiter can hire a candidate who they think and have complete confidence that they will make a successful financial professional if they can bring them on board but is struggling to convince them as the candidate is hesitant and not sure if they can make it in this business.

Case Study

Let’s say a candidate name Susan who is currently working in a small private firm and understands some parts of the financial business. While interviewing her, the recruiter identifies clear and distinctive traits in her of becoming a successful financial professional that will help the recruiter’s in increasing their unit production. But unfortunately Susan is skeptical in coming on board. Currently in this scenario the recruiter usually cannot do much than spend time in convincing the candidate through various tactics. Now let’s say seeing her so resistant in coming on board but also simultaneously finding her a promising candidate the recruiter asks Susan if she would like to Join The Company’s – Financial Professional Fellowship Program. She can join the program on a part time basis or on a full time basis.

Susan suddenly seems interested to learn more about this program and her resistant turns into a little enthusiasm. As the recruiter states that this program is only designed to attract very promising qualified candidate it made Susan fell very important and proud. The Recruiter Explains.. The program is a paid (Hourly) fellowship program in which you will work in my unit with other financial professionals helping them with their job. So Susan will now get hands on experience to observe and be a part of a financial professional’s career.

This involves helping other financial professionals in running events and seminars with paper work or creating and brainstorming sales and marketing strategies and so on. While she is in this fellowship program the company wants Susan to acquire her Life and Health License within two months (ideally one month) from the time she joins the program. The company will provide training to get her license (will be adjusted from her pay - for full time participants only) and reimburse the license fees once she passes. But failing to acquire the license within two months will result in automatic termination. Now Susan is in her second month and have learned a quite a bit about the business and how to operate the tools that the company provides. Once she gets her license it raises her confidence level towards perusing the career and brings her one step closer in becoming a financial professional.

As soon as she is licensed the recruiter will get her contracted and put her through the fundamental training process. Since she is still under the program, she is getting paid to go through all these process and not thinking of dropping out due to any financial reason. If the recruiter has identified Susan as a promising candidate she should be able to write the minimum business in a month or two to get triggered full time at which point she will be eligible for training allowance and expense allowance. Once she is triggered full time her Fellowship program will terminate automatically. If the candidate wishes to continue a little longer under this program it is up to the recruiter’s discretion and judgment since it is a co-op program so they have to contribute as well. This program will create a pool of selected well qualified candidates for every recruiter to develop them into successful financial professional for their unit. Apart from their other ways of prospecting and recruiting this program will provide leverage in attracting more promising candidates.

Some Basic Financials and Principles of the FPFP Program

1. Recruiters will be assigned a fixed dollar amount each year exclusively for this program on a co-op basis. The amount can be determined by a recruiter’s performance based formula of the previous year. For new recruiters it will be their prior year production.

2. The recruiter will be recommending the candidates based on their judgment and observation to be placed under this program which in conjunction needs to be approved by the corporate after reviewing the application, running any required tests or background checks.

3. The suggested maximum allowed months for any candidate to be listed under this program will not exceed 6 months. After 3 months into the program the co-op ratio percentage will increase for each active candidate for the recruiter, e.g. if the ratio is 50-50 for the first three months it will become 40-60 in 4th Month, 30-70 for 5th month and 20-80 for the 6th month. This will keep the pressure on the recruiters to get the candidate triggered within three months and make proper use of the investment and the resources.

4. If Joining part time (Min 15 hrs per week) they will be required to bear the full training cost except the license fee reimbursement and they cannot do the training during their working hours whereas in full time (40 hrs per week) where they will be compensated with the training cost and be paid during the training time. A full time committed candidate will bring more success conversion ratio in coming on board than a part time candidate, but flexibility will offer them a choice and not turn them off.

5. If the recruiter exhausts their allotted fund by the company in any given year they can choose to participate in the program by contributing 100% of the cost associated.

6. Corporate will reimburse the recruiters with the proportionate fellowship grant and the recruiters need to maintain their time chart and pay the candidates in the program by issuing a personal check this will eliminate unnecessary middleman administrative work for the corporate and ensure timely reimbursement of the candidates grant.

7. All candidates should meet the minimum qualification standard set by the corporate to be approved for this program.

The FPFP Program’s Impact on Recruiting

Apart from the fact that this will be one of a kind program to be implemented by any company it will give promising candidates the flexibility and understating of the business they need through a structured method without risking their current fixed income job. Since this is a co-op program, the funds will not be misused by the recruiters as their money will be in line as well. Our recruiters spent so much effort and money trying various methods to recruit quality candidates this one might just be one of the safest way as they will have the option of screening the candidate themselves and choosing the right one before betting their money on them.

BRANDING THROUGH EXECUTIVE PROFILING FORUM

To make any career look attractive it requires the touch of stardom and of course promise to prosperity. We need to leverage the career stories of many successful insurance industry executives who once have opted to walk on the career path of an insurance agent and grew themselves both personally and professionally.

This is especially important for young college students who are often motivated to walk on the shoes of successful professional and if given an opportunity to learn more about the business from the very root source they can be as interested in perusing a sales career in insurance industry just like any other career.

MAKING INFORMATION AN OPEN SOURCE CODE

The lack of information or awareness about the insurance sales career makes it harder for many outsiders know how the business operates. It is imperative we make it simpler and easier for outside people to understand the dynamics of this profession and the challenges associated with it.

To be a qualified, knowledgeable agent and acquire all the licenses that are required to offer various products under different capacity, it is not an easy task. The statement will make it clear that it’s not just you choosing the profession; the career is also testing you simultaneously like any other career path you follow. Once the companies publish, distribute and hold seminars about the value of this career path rather than just a recruiting event only strengthening in getting people to join the company. This effort will open a much wider door for more people to learn, appreciate and understand the value of this business.

Apart from the fact all these initiatives will create and give the candidates much wider perspective about the industry it will also give promising candidates the flexibility and understating of the business through a structured method.

These may not be a typical name flow ideas for recruiting but surely a quality improvement effort by any company in offering awareness, understanding and flexibility to promising candidates learn to appreciate the business and become passionate about the career not just by the financial rewards but also by helping people plan for a better financial future.


Street Talk

Dear Sabyasachi (Babu) Kundu, It is indeed a good article which surely caters to understand the dilemmas which usually an insurance recruiters are going through. Yet another humble efforts have been made to help insurance recruiters to actually recruit insurance agents. There is a website ( www. agentsrecruitment . com ) which is talking about the correct approaches to recruit insurance agents and how to execute recruitment activities which would help to recruit agents in quality and in quantity as well. Many of the Insurance Recruiters are taking help of the training material which is already giving great results. For more information Visit : www . agentsrecruitment . com

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
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