Some of the best quarterbacks in NFL history sat on the bench, virtually unknown for years before they got their start. No one could predict they were destined for the Hall of Fame, but their coaches saw potential. Without Joe Montana and Bill Walsh, what would’ve become of Steve Young, former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers? Could Tom Brady have led the New England Patriots to four championship titles if not for the example of Drew Bledsoe and strong leadership of Bill Belichick?
Although these less experienced and less talented second-string players weren’t ready to be number one, their insightful coaches knew that given time to observe and learn the complex game of football, they could also reach greatness.
Many future leaders in the insurance agency business are also virtually unknown. They have exhibited the propensity to be excellent producers – they just need the right veterans to mentor them to success. The right mentoring can not only help develop producers to help agencies grow organically, it can also provide the right individual or individuals to envision and execute a succession strategy for owners who are planning to exit the agency business.
Concern over the lack of talent is a major issue for the insurance agency industry. It will become increasingly critical as the majority of agency owners, who are boomers, prepare to retire and exit the business. By implementing a simple mentoring strategy, agencies can fill this void. Mentoring an up-and-comer is as easy as allowing them to shadow an established producer for the majority of their workdays. The key is to remember that preparing to sell insurance coverage is a long learning process.
Sometimes agencies make the mistake of thinking good mentoring is having new producers shadow an established producer for a few weeks with periodic follow-up meetings. But an effective and thorough mentoring process takes much longer and is more involved. In addition to gaining the knowledge required to obtain sales licenses, newbies have to develop the techniques and skills needed to manage the sales cycle and pipeline, deal with a diverse range of customers and prospects, handle administrative details, maintain carrier relations and more. Allowing several months to a year is a more realistic timeframe for development.
Agencies should financially prepare to cover the cost of a new head-count without seeing a return for a while and this may require tapping into savings or obtaining a loan. Mentoring is an investment, but can result in tremendous business growth.