In our previous “Stepping Up Your Insurance Agency Game” article, we established that the best way to grow your agency is by finding and holding on to fantastic talent. Granted, this is a lot easier said than done.
In 2015, Leavitt Group agencies spent over $3 million in headhunter fees, and retention rates were low — less than 30%.
It was around this time we realized something needed to change. So, we sat down and created a complete, step-by-step visualization of our new talent recruitment process. Thanks to this visualization, we’ve increased our retention rates significantly and learned precisely how to attract the best of the best.
However, the first step of finding the best is understanding what “the best” really is.
What makes a good agent?
We found four key characteristics that turn good recruits into great agents.
- Personality – they're able to relate with others and build relationships quickly.
- Sales Competency – know how to position themselves in front of decision-makers to talk business and close deals.
- Technical Aptitude – intelligent enough to learn complex products and industries.
- Poor, Hungry, & Driven (PHD) – they are in a stage of their career where they want more from what they’re doing and will go out and work for it.
One of the best places to find recruits with all four characteristics is outside the insurance industry. If you’re not convinced, consider the following.
We did an internal study and found the average book size of agents with no prior insurance experience to be about $180,000. In contrast, the average book size of producers with industry experience was only around $70,000.
Ultimately, the key takeaway is to target talent, not experience.
LGE’s Strategic Recruitment and Hiring Process
Finding the best of the best takes time and a lot of effort. However, we’ve fine-tuned a 4-step process that works for us. It may work for you too!
1. Create an agency and desired candidate summary
Creating a summary of your agency and your desired candidate probably feels counterproductive. You already know the ins and outs of your agency, and you know what you want your candidate to be able to do.
However, these summaries aren’t meant just for you.
By creating an agency and desired candidate summary, you help your prospective candidates know exactly what you’re looking for. Ultimately, this creates a better candidate experience and allows you to have more efficient and intelligent conversations with them.
2. Fully develop your candidate pipeline
Once you have a firm grasp on your desired candidate and how they’ll fit into your agency, it’s finally time to start looking for prospects.
Your first instinct is probably creating a job posting on digital job boards, like Indeed or ZipRecruiter, and you should trust your instinct. Digital job boards are one of the best ways to attract anyone actively looking for a job.
However, you should target two types of people for the position: active candidates, those who search out job postings, and passive candidates, those who aren’t looking for a new job.
It may feel silly to target them while advertising the position, but passive candidates are usually some of the best prospects. To promote the opening to them, you need to put information about the position in the spaces where they spend their time. This means posts on LinkedIn and other similar social platforms.
3. Initial phone screening
First things first, don’t do a phone interview with every single applicant. An initial phone interview is most likely a given, but it’s important enough to reiterate. Instead, spend time interviewing 20% to 30% of the applicants to separate varsity from junior varsity candidates.
Dedicate your time to looking for the very best. You can do this by searching for two specific things during your phone call.
- Can they sell themselves?
- Do they have the four key characteristics of a great candidate?
If the answer to either question is “no”, then they aren’t the best fit for the job, and it’s time to move on.
4. Face-to-face interview
The goal of a face-to-face interview is determining a candidate’s patterns of behavior, not analyzing data. You can do face-to-face interviews in person, but you can also do them digitally over Zoom or Skype. How you perform the interview doesn’t matter — what matters is that you can see their face and body language as you communicate with them.
We dedicate about an hour for our face-to-face interviews and use that time to have candidates tell us who they are. Brent Davis, Vice President of Talent Development with Leavitt group, usually has candidates tell him their story, starting in college, and outline their successes, challenges, why they’ve left previous jobs, and so on.
Brent also asks candidates whether they have any questions about the position. When they do, this shows Brent they are interested enough to care and want to know more about the job.
Finally, he ends the interview with an objection or “hurdle” for the producer and explains why they may not fit. It may seem to be a gimmicky tactic, but it works. Candidates who can turn a personal objection around and sell themselves are generally better suited to the role and the work it requires.
The interviews are done. What’s next?
After the interviews are done, the next step depends on you and your company. For Leavitt Group, after we finish our interviews, we send summaries of the top 2 or 3 candidates to agency co-owners who will ultimately make the final hiring decisions.
The post-interview process may be different for you. If you’re directly responsible for hiring, then you have a good idea of who will work and can make onboarding decisions from there.
Regardless of how you proceed, you can rest assured you’ve found some of the best candidates out there. You may have to repeat this process a time or two, but you will be more likely to find and retain top-tier talent and grow your agency.