The Day the Soup Went Cold..
If you follow along in our free group, Insurance Soup, you know that I like to poll the audience of 17,000 Agents, Brokers, and Team Members that hang out with us daily. The broad range of industry experience and carrier representation in conjunction with our efforts to keep corporate suits and vendors out of the group generally gives us some good and honest feedback when we ask tough questions.
We recently asked our group to rate the training they receive from their carrier partners in 3 different areas.
Product Training... Sales.... Marketing
The results from this impromptu poll sadly did not phase me. It did however make me a little sad.
The industry basically spoke very loudly and proclaimed the sales and marketing training we receive from our corporate and carrier partners sucks in plain English. They also felt like the product training was decent but nothing special.
Almost every single major carrier - the ones that you see advertising on television - are RECRUITING people into this industry. Agents are being brought in from all walks of life. Many with little to literally ZERO industry experience are being granted the privilege of representing a major brand to the public with only so much as a license in hand and 90 days of studying and real life experience combined.
They are told to show proof of cash reserves to "weather the storm" but often times they are not even so much as verified. I know mine never were. Further the conversation with the fact that not a single carrier out there knows any new Agents current financial situation well enough to say how much in cash reserves a new agent even needs.
Some are paying off $800/mos car notes, child support, alimony, mortgages and credit cards.. but proof of having access to $50000 somewhere.. ANYWHERE liquid is enough to feel confident in allowing someone to put their name on a door representing the brand.
We wonder why there is a tremendous failure rate in this industry.
Many Agents are brought in with the deck stacked against them. Literally.
Not enough money. Not enough time to gain experience. And if this poll is telling us anything
NOT ENOUGH TRAINING!!
How is a former manager of a grocery store, or a former bank employee who has customers walking in all the time, or a former secretary of a small business supposed to KNOW how to make this engine purr without good and beneficial training?
I'm going to lay it out there.
I believe a lot of the carriers have just chalked up a certain fall out and are totally ok with it. They snag up some policies at a little bit of a premium, the agent moves on, the carrier retains the book, and the monster continues to be fed.
I also believe a lot of carriers actually BELIEVE that they are providing AMAZING training!
At the end of every training I have ever taken there is always a poll asking to "Rate this Training"
A lot of times we are told its ANONYMOUS!
(You know in spite of the fact that we are submitting our opinions under our employee id, from an IP address that clearly belongs to us, on the heels of a training that we actually just took! Oh yeah and if you are a first year or contract chasing Agent you are probably afraid to do anything but tell your carrier they are fantastic.)
Everyone just rates everything 5 stars and moves on. Who cares? What is this info being used for anyway and I have a bunch of other trainings to plow through so I can get back to selling.
I tell you what we are doing by this blind 5-star who cares lets move on review...
We are telling our carriers that they are doing a WONDERFUL job training and it validates their ivory tower opinions of how strong a program they put out.
We talk to a TON of Agents. You know who is considered the least useful person in almost every single district, territory, what have you?
The traveling marketing "guru"
Theyre generally corporate Kool Aid spewing, out of touch, misinformed, but totally over confident and energetic employees that are leading Agents down the path to solutions like
BILLBOARDS! (No trackable ROI, super expensive, and more branding than advertising and lead gen.. not to mention people are looking on their phones at red lights these days but yay billboards)
Internet leads! (What systems were you taught to put in place to effectively manage these popular corporate solutions to your needing people to talk to? None? Because in order to make these effective you need a very robust and automated process)
Radio spots! (Really?)
If we want better training in this industry we need to feel the freedom to speak up. We need to take the time to make our true opinions known. We can not feel like polls at the end of trainings are for us to breeze by and move on. Corporate marketing guys and gals need to be told that what they are teaching is outdated, expensive, incomplete, and misinformed.
The sales training is equally as bad. a 2 or 3 day workshop here or there with a dinosaur who hung it up in 1992 to teach the youngsters how things get done is not going to put an Agent in the position to win... especially for someone who has little to no sales experience that a carrier gave an Agency to because why not.
This poll I put out there REALLY bothers me.
If you are a part of Insurance Soup on Facebook you know my passion for Agents and the struggle and this poll confirmed a suspicion I have had for years.
Everyone. Feels. Lost.
Let this serve as your wake up call.
Your carrier is not going to put you in the position to be successful with their training.
It is incomplete, outdated, and not real world. What they are saying to do is not being implemented in practice in many if any agencies in the form it is being provided.
If you are looking to be successful in this industry you must seek out mentors that are not in the form of required trainings, district meetings, and drop ins from corporate suits.
You need successful Agents, marketers, and entrepreneurs in your corner helping you understand your decisions, hone your skill sets, and navigate the complex waters of business ownership.
The New Year has just begun but your Agency is no different than last year.
It is time to take ownership of your business.
Do not allow what your peers in this industry have all agreed is horrible training be the beacon you follow to success.
You will never get there.
1/9/2018 09:04:03 am
1/9/2018 09:27:54 am
Hey Matt thanks for chiming in
1/9/2018 09:37:11 am
I have to agree with Matt. I started my Agency without the 50k capital that agents are required to have now. I learned quite a bit on the way. A few things I did was surround myself with positive agents and also ask questions. I reached out to DMs, corporate officers, other Agents, etc. I did whatever it took for me to learn. The answers did not come to me. I took responsibility. I’ve also had the ability to see quite a few agents that came into the industry without zero experience in insurance. The ones that have been successful were the ones that stayed positive and were willing to invest their own time to learn. So a majority of it is holding yourself accountable and wanting to learn.
1/9/2018 10:56:04 am
There might be some companies that don't have great training, but by and large there are plenty of resources outside of the companies that we are contracted with to find some. The way I look at it, if you are an independent contractor, it is your responsibility to find the knowledge. Too many failed agents blame the companies that gave them the opportunity for there lack of training. You can lead a horse to water, you just can't make them drink.
1/10/2018 05:04:17 am
So here is my tale. I was a "producer" (hate that title, sounds like something you'd call cattle) in a State Farm agency for about 2 years. I went through their training program to learn State Farm. And they do a really great job on State Farm product knowledge. But it became apparent toward the end of the 2 years that my dreams of having an agency were not going to happen. Not only were they going to want some obscene amount of capital for me to even get a chance, I was going to be beholden to them and their whims for the remainder of my career.
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