Joy - Sep 28, 2020

Expert Round-Up:  Helping New Agents Survive Part 1

Our Round-Up series is based on collecting and collating insight from industry experts on how to solve industry problems.

We asked a panel of industry experts* the best ways you can help new Agency* recruits survive

They came up with nine strategies that can be applied to all hunting* salespeople.

1. Recruit the Right Type of Person

First off, we were told by our panel of gurus that it is best to only select people who show an interest in sales and also display a sales personality. This job is tough - you need to be able to deal with rejection on a daily basis, and this is much harder if you are not a natural salesperson to begin with. You can’t just be willing - you must be able too.

It was also advised to make sure that the recruit has a good understanding of what the job entails and what is required of them, as commitment is essential for success.

Patience to succeed is also required as per Walid Madi General Manager – Life from Bankers Assurance SAL. Success doesn't come overnight so they need to be prepared and able to give it time. Some gurus mentioned that the runway to success is at least 8 months, while others say it takes more like 1 to 2 years before stable.

In addition, as legislation has become quite onerous with regard to the processes to be followed and the certification required, one of our gurus employs professionally qualified people as he finds that they have more credibility with clients, and also benefit from the networking opportunities from their earlier experience and contacts. 

However, it was advised that once it is known that if the wrong person has been selected, it is best to part ways as soon as possible because they can create a negative environment that affects the whole team.

To hear more about recruiting please visit the podcast we came across discussing how a large wealth management company recruits.

2. Training

Training was top of the list of suggestions to help new recruits survive. 

In addition to the financial planning, technical and product training provided when joining, it is also important to train the recruit on concept presentation, and relationship soft skills. Danie van den Bergh, CEO of Momentum Financial Planning, also mentioned that while training should be extensive in the first 6 weeks, self training needs to take place on a continuous basis. Glyn Griffiths, Business Executive from Discovery Holdings, shared that the recruit should also have access to a company knowledge bank that provides assistance and the insight built up over time.

It is also very effective to have ongoing regular sessions - for example weekly, for at most 2 hours, to build skills and confidence. These sessions should be mandatory in the first few months, and will help to identify and assist anyone struggling. This time should be used to practice a specific element of sales as a team, where other team members can share their skills and experiences. For example, including persona role playing and handling objections. Having a plan upfront to cover all sales elements, will help you stick to these sessions. 

Confidence can also be built and valuable lessons learnt by new recruits by contacting people they know to tell them what their new role is, and then getting them to ask difficult questions for training purposes. Our guru who suggested this strategy found that they also often sold a few policies during this training exercise, not the primary goal of the exercise, but nevertheless getting them off to a good start.  

3. Mentoring

Most of the Agency gurus mentioned that new recruits need to be mentored - especially by their Agency manager. Each manager needs to invest in the new recruit, importantly going on on-site appointments with them, combining teaching by example, as well as coaching and giving feedback after a client meeting. 

Hong-Kwan Koh, Head of Sales & Distribution Centre of Excellence Allianz, shared that you should help each recruit define a real purpose, for example not to just earn money, but for example “clear my study loans” is a more powerful motivator.

Regarding timing, van den Bergh feels that this mentoring should continue for at least 6 months.

Lastly another leader said that it is important to believe in every recruit, as people tend to rise (or fall) to meet your expectations. 

4. Measure activity

Habits are embedded during the first few months so it is essential to start as you wish to continue. Activity therefore needs a high level focus from day 1 and tools that measure activity are required to do this effectively. Some gurus felt very strongly about being able to measure activity and it was advised that you find your own tool if your company does not provide lead management.

Hong-Kwan Koh recommends that you break down targets into daily activity goals as this will also show how much hard work is required. While Wajih Choueiry,  Head of Sales – Life at Bankers Assurance S.A.L, says that setting activity targets also helps to show how the salesperson is in charge of their own income.

Work habits also need to include creativity in how to prepare for every step in the sales process, and behaviour needs to include integrity, being honest and respectful, as well as being on time, not rushing a job and being able to stick to promised deadlines.

There's more in Part 2 of our Expert Round-Up  - Helping New Recruits Survive.

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Industry Experts- 20 Agency leaders and veterans from the following 10 countries: Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Lebanon, Taiwan, Thailand, Philippines, South Africa, Bangladesh and the UK

Agent- Part of an insurance company’s dedicated Agency sales team, that is employed by the company, can only sell that company’s products, usually only earn commission, and who mostly have to find their own customers. Brokers differ only in that they don’t work for an insurance company and therefore can sell products from more than one insurer. 

Hunting salespeople - salespeople who need to find their own prospects to sell to.

Written by Joy