What would your advice be to a business owner given the following circumstances?

  • Their business model has a disproportionate amount of dependence on their salespeople (Not only do they depend on the salespeople to generate revenue, but they also depend on them to retain current revenue).
  • The salespeople receive a significant share of that revenue as compensation, meaning the business owner must ensure a way to generate some ROI for themselves from this big investment.
  • To get that ROI, the business owner depends on the salespeople to behave and compete effectively, efficiently, and consistently.
  • The business owner does not provide training to teach and enforce said behaviors for their producers.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this business owner needs to start training their salespeople, does it?!

Where is all the training?

I have the privilege of traveling around the country and speaking to various industry groups. Doing so is one of the great rewards of our business. At the top of that reward list is the chance to hear and witness stories that fuel my optimism for our industry.

And then there are also the stories that cause me just as much concern, stories that make me realize we have a lot of work to do to reach our potential. One of the stories I hear constantly is the tale of sales training in agencies. Or, to be more accurate, the story is about the lack of sales training in agencies.

Typical story

Within a couple of hours of delivering a keynote presentation, I received the following email from one of the attendees.

"I wanted to thank you for your presentation today. It was very informative and brought a new way to look at doing business today. In a past career, I worked for a major corporation and was constantly getting sales training. Being an independent broker, I now have to go out and find the training on my own. That is why I enjoyed your presentation so much."

You may think, "He said he is 'independent,' so finding that training should be up to him." You may also assume he is the business owner responsible for finding such training for the collective team. You might be wrong. Actually, you would be wrong.

He is one of those salespeople I mentioned above, recently hired by an agency owner to come in and help grow and maintain revenue. Like too many in our industry, he is in a huge position of responsibility within his company and now must figure out on his own how to do his job because the very employer who hired him offers no training at all.

Not training salespeople is a catastrophic failure on the part of leadership!

I use the term "leader" here very loosely. These agency owners are jeopardizing their ROI and the very future of their business. Worse than that, they are being unbelievably irresponsible and unfair in asking salespeople to commit to the success of their business without a reciprocal commitment to the salesperson's success.

Why don't agencies train salespeople?

How can it be that this ridiculous scenario plays out time and time again in agency after agency?

It happens for two basic reasons.

First, agency owners have convinced themselves that their salespeople want to be left alone and don't want to be "told how to work." If that's true of your salespeople, you have done a poor job of hiring.

The best talent in any field needs, expects, and demands to be given the tools to be successful (as evidenced in the email above). This starts and continues with training on how to use those tools.

The second (and probably biggest) reason is that very few agencies have any type of sales process around which to train. And don't try to tell me that quoting insurance and negotiating with the carriers is a sales process; it's not. It's nothing more than part of your job function as a broker/advisor.

Not only is having a sales process and training around that process critical to ensure your ROI as an owner, but it's also a fundamental responsibility you have before you ask someone to join your team.

Are you meeting your responsibility as a business owner? If you're not but would like to start, let us know. Helping agencies build and train around an effective sales process is what we do.

You can also take a look at the Agency Annual Plan to help build the best business for yourself and your salespeople. 

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