The Hiring Mindset


People are the backbone of any business—they produce sales, retain clients and deliver services. They’re the source of growth, profit and perpetuation.

Good people are a company’s greatest asset; and onboarding the right people is critical to an agency’s health today and ability to perpetuate in the future.

But finding talent is tough. Without a plan to recruit, reward and retain employees, organizations will struggle to attract and keep professionals.

Agencies that adopt an “always hiring” mentality and commit to basic recruiting disciplines, stand the best chance for industry leading organic growth. This is very timely as many firms are looking for organic growth now more than ever.

So, what’s the best strategy for hiring people who will fuel growth? Who are the producers of tomorrow, and what factors must agencies consider to tap top talent?

1. Growing a Sales Culture

High-growth agencies that attract and retain top producers are focused on creating new business and recruiting people who have the discipline to develop and grow a book of business.

These firms prioritize new business rather than running “lifestyle agencies” who depend on renewals. To capture new business, these progressive agencies need outstanding producers.

However, we know that finding and keeping true producers is a challenge. Basically, an agency needs to recruit five new producers for every seasoned producer who plans on retiring in the next decade.

Agencies always need to be actively looking for young talent.

Some agencies are hiring account executives to service the books of retiring producers rather than assigning books to a new producer. They are committed to both technical and sales training, and facilitating valuable mentorship programs.

2. Targeting Producers

So how does an agency find good people, and how are job seekers looking for quality employers?

Young talent is turning to social media for job leads, with almost 30% using specific social networking tools like LinkedIn and Facebook, according to a MarshBerry study. They’re also learning about jobs from friends and family (25%) and through mobile apps. In fact, we’ll see more use of mobile apps in job searches in the future — and this makes sense. Young people can search on their phones during a lunch break or while on the run. This is explained by the fact that individuals looking for a new job are not likely to sit at an employer’s desk and use a company computer to search. This ease of access provided by mobile apps will lead to additional job movement by individuals which translates to additional pressure on employers to retain talent.

Some agencies target hires from college, or run internship programs so they can essentially “test” future employees to see if they fit the culture and possess the “selling gene.” We also see firms going after prospective producers who are currently working in companies with great sales training programs.

But to find talented producers and to fill the recruiting pipeline, we need to look beyond the insurance industry for people who simply have that selling gene.

You can teach a skilled salesperson the insurance industry— if they have the gene, they can sell just about anything. An agency then can provide technical training to teach the technical aspects of insurance industry; then sales training, coaching and mentorship to continue sharpening producers’ skills.

3. Always Hiring

Creating a sales culture requires that agencies constantly hunt for fresh talent to fuel new business and to replace producers who are retiring or simply not making the cut.

The “always hiring” mentality ensures that agencies do not miss out on top talent. Sporadic hiring is costly and often times produces mediocre results.

If you’re not looking for the next best producer, someone else is.

Consider creative ways of keeping your agency’s name out in front of prospective employees. Think about how you reward the producers on your team today. It is a fact that producers will talk about the incentive they just earned with their friends, neighbors and others.

Incentives do not always need to be cash – get creative and play to a producer’s ego. For example, would a watch, entertainment system or premium car lease go further than a cash bonus? A producer would be more likely to share how happy they are with others when they can physically “show” their earned incentive to others.

Your current producers and their success can be the best advertisement for your agency.

Above all, understanding today’s recruiting environment and what young producers are looking for is critical for attracting top talent. Take a good, hard look at your training program and compensation plan. If your agency is a revolving door and retention is a problem, ask why. Remember, if you don’t fix the problem, someone else will.

At the end of the day, in any business, it’s all about the people. Finding and hiring the right employees is critical for agencies that plan to organically grow, profit and perpetuate.