Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.- Aristotle

Coffee shop employees are better trained than most insurance producers.

How many of you started your day with a stop at your favorite coffee shop? I’m guessing many of you did just that, and for many of you, the stop was at a Starbucks.

Now, stop for a moment and reflect back on the experience.

  • You could have had coffee at home, but you went out of your way to get THIS particular coffee.
  • The store experience (from order taking to barista magic to hand off to you) was consistent with previous visits, regardless of which store you visited.
  • The product is consistent.
  • The employees carry themselves in a particular, consistent way; not necessarily overly engaging, but inviting and professional nonetheless.
  • Despite the fact that it’s ONLY coffee, you paid a premium.
  • You will likely go back tomorrow.

Now, can you imagine any of their employees being put on the line without training, very specific training around very specific processes?

Of course not! It would result in subpar product. It would result in the loss of clients. The investment they made in hiring that employee would be lost as the employee became frustrated and left. It would jeopardize the company brand.

With all of that on the line, doesn’t the thought of not training each employee seem beyond ridiculous?!

Guess what? It’s just as ridiculous that you aren’t training your employees – especially your producers.

Think about how much your agency has riding on the producer role.

How is it possible that you don’t have a sales process around which to train that new producer to ensure their success? (And, to be VERY clear, getting quotes, showing off your “we have it too” capabilities binder, and promising great service is NOT a sales process; it’s the same tired message every one of your competitors is telling.)

You likely have processes for everything from how you hire, to how you onboard, to how you get quotes, to how you deal with claims.

  • How is it possible that you don’t have a process for the one that makes everything else possible: the way you ensure your ability to consistently bring in (and retain) new clients?
  • How do you not have a process in place to protect your financial investment in that new producer?
  • How do you not have a process in place to protect your very brand?!

You have just as much riding on well-trained producers following specific processes as the best known coffee shop in the world does from their front-line team members.

And, it’s not just you; your team and your clients ALL have too much riding on it.

  • Your producers need the confidence that comes with being well-trained and having the competitive advantage that comes with an effective sales process.
  • Just like the barista, your service team (we call them the “resell team”) needs a consistent hand-off and well-defined client expectations to know what to deliver.
  • Your clients need to be led through a sales process focused on them and their growing list of needs. What they DON’T need is another spreadsheet or another version of the same, tired industry story.
  • And, YOU need to protect your investment, your ability to grow profitably, and your brand.

We preach the absolute necessity of a systematic, albeit flexible, sales process all the time. It’s probably no surprise to any of you reading this that the idea of following a process is resisted by way too many producers; they claim they are more effective when they “wing it”.

What a load of crap! That is the most dangerous lie a producer tells him/herself. As Edwards Deming explained, “If you can’t describe what you do as a process, you don’t really know what you’re doing.”

Photo by Cheryl Foong.