July 10, 2020

Four Steps To Build A Producer Recruiting Plan

by Chris Winterboer

Producer profiles are as unique as the insurance agencies that recruit them. In 15 years of agency recruiting, Capstone’s team has seen a wide array of plans that agencies put together to find sales talent. From rookies to out-of-industry transfers to M&A and million-dollar producers, there are a few formulas that have stood the test of time. While not foolproof, these tips will hopefully provide you a road map or affirm the things you are currently doing in your agency.

Step One: Take Advantage of Your Competitor's Strengths & Weaknesses

Producers ‘walk across the aisle’ from one agency to yours for 3-4 main reasons. Your market intel is how you frame ‘the pitch’, conversation starters and dialogue with prospective candidates.

1) Niche Specialties.
Within the time a producer is validating he/she understands that a sustainable insurance career is rooted in specialization. Use this to your advantage by:

  • Advertising your sales positions within specific disciplines (transportation, healthcare, surety, self-funded group medical, etc.)
  • Talking with carriers early in the interview process to secure important contracts. This makes buying the producer’s book much easier.
  • Introducing the producer to like-minded account managers. This convinces the producer you have the infrastructure and resources to support their practice.

2)Advertise Competitive Compensation.
Changes the producer cannot control and did not ask for eventually hit their pocketbook. The most obvious are mergers, acquisitions and perpetuation.

  • Tout a unique model (K-1, ESOP, partnership/stock equity purchase, etc.). Typically, agencies like to recruit experienced producers with 3-20 years of experience. This is a big age range but a time in most people’s lives when they think about creating wealth, building retirement portfolios and owning businesses. A special comp program will set you apart and attracts good salespeople.

Step Two: Establish Boundaries for the Ideal Candidate Persona

When insurance agencies struggle to recruit producers, they start to change their profile parameters. When this happens you can lose focus and start to hire people you can get, not necessarily people you want. Here are the boundaries you must create and maintain even when the sourcing gets tough.

DO create a budget.
DON’T be afraid to be stretched if a great candidate comes along.

DO have an idea of how many producers you want to hire annually.
DON’T make a bad hire just because you haven’t hit a particular number for the year. Each year is different and should be evaluated as such.

DO replicate success where you can. If you have a great hire turn out well, try to find another just like it and sooner rather than later. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
DON’T limit yourself to a newer profile just because the last one worked out so well, and this new candidate looks or sounds different.

Step Three: Create A Great Interview Experience

In general, people don’t tend to respond well to situations that feel happenstance. Recruits pick up on processes that feel disorganized or lack a clear understanding of next steps. While your big idea is to make a hire, your ultimate goal should be a great interview experience.

What Are We Doing? Be intentional and convey to candidates that whether you make 1 or 100 hires this year, their situation is special.  

How Can We Help You? Blasting out 100 LinkedIn inmails to producers hoping someone will respond gets you a bunch of junk responses. Craft messages that sound like you can help their career and solve their challenges. It requires some patience, but it will pay off and build a quality pipeline.  

Who Do They Need To Know? The old saying ‘Ducks Fly With Ducks’ works well here. Who is a producer most likely to engage with- HR or an agency executive? Be very thoughtful in who calls or sends messages to candidates. Presidents and VP, Sales have the best gravitas.

Step Four: Nothing Matters If You Can't Close the Deal

None of us need practice making a hire. This isn’t your first rodeo nor mine. It is very difficult to sell a salesperson. You better think about that from day one of the recruitment process or you have already lost. So don’t wait until getting close to extension of an offer to consider this important final component of the recruitment puzzle. Plant seeds along the way to ensure deep roots take hold.

  1. Knowing your audience is enormously beneficial- especially if you have taken the time to get to know them along the way. Find out small details about what makes them tick. Understand their passions and what drives them. Then show them how those external forces and overarching goals can be better achieved with your firm than anyone else.
  2. Be present. What I mean by this is really pay attention to the time you spend with these candidates. You hear all the time about great leaders who make you feel like you’re the only one in the room, when in fact there could be hundreds of people at a large gathering. No one is impressed by a “busy” executive that pops in and out of meetings and doesn’t really take time to slow down during an interview process.
  3. Be available. After a good interview, many agencies feel it is incumbent upon the candidate to ask questions and drive the process. If that is true, then you better be available to answer questions, respond to messages, and have communication to be sure there is common ground.
  4. Be transparent. I have been in this business for over 15 years and continue to be shocked at how many people are not up front with candidates. Just by telling a few additional details or not trying to pressure a candidate into a conversation often leads to deep gratitude that I’m not just blowing smoke. Being honest, showing weakness, and pointing out possible obstacles are all okay things.
  5. Be genuine. Candidates are drawn to agency cultures where everyone seems to get along and is excited to come into work. No one wants to join a toxic environment. Good candidates will sacrifice money, title, accolades and more to know they can enjoy waking up and going into work every day.


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