In this Section:

Build A Team And Profits Will Come

In today's financial services sales practice, it's not only about the person, but it's also about being in an environment with the greatest potential for success. The level of support insurance and financial services sales representatives have at their disposal is an important predictor of that success. Leverage and collaboration are two related support models that organizations can use to improve retention, increase productivity and lay the groundwork for succession and continuity planning.

Building support strength through leverage and collaboration evolves over time, based on the increased needs of the sales professional. As an agent or advisor looks to increase sales to new and existing clients, there are demands on the business that cannot be handled without infringing on their ability to sell and ultimately grow the practice. As such, a natural evolution takes place within a rep's practice to form a business model that not only meets the specialized needs of today's clients, but also increases sales capacity and grows the practice. By "leveraging" basic administrative support and advanced support (such as product and technical specialists, tax accountants and attorneys), sales reps can markedly increase their productivity. Advanced support models ultimately provide the building blocks that lay the groundwork for formal team-based structures.

Teaming to Earn; Teaming to Learn

Leveraging business support or embracing a collaborative sales model will result in higher net income for sales representatives. Representatives operating in formal team structures make 72 percent more than their solo counterparts make. Yet the solo model is most prevalent in the financial services industry, and few representatives operate as part of formal teams (Figure 1). "Teaming to earn" may seem counter intuitive in a historically competitive profession, but formal team structures will not only increase productivity, but they also will enhance the value of the practice.  

While "teaming to earn" is proving to be a successful approach to drive revenue, mentorship arrangements ("teaming to learn") are a type of collaboration that addresses other critical issues facing the industry: retention, sales leadership and continuity planning. Collaborative sales models are desired by college seniors and younger job hunters - the advisors of tomorrow - and they help foster a mentorship culture within the firm, which is so crucial to the success of a new sales rep. An effective onboarding strategy must provide new reps the opportunity to learn the business in an environment that gives them the best opportunity for sales-and career-success. Developing future sales leadership depends on identifying potential candidates and, most important, keeping them. As part of the evolution of a practice, a sales representative can take on a junior rep or advisor to handle those clients with basic needs, while the senior advisor can focus their attention not only on clients who have more complex needs, but also on managing the practice. Over time, junior reps grow within the practice through increased responsibilities and learning the business. Ultimately, they will be in a position to succeed the senior advisor and become practice leaders.

Mentorship programs have a significant impact on a learning rep's success. Nearly nine in ten sales professionals believe their mentors have had a positive impact on their income. More than two-thirds indicate that these programs have strengthened their loyalty to their organization or firm. Mentorships have the greatest impact on professional development. More than half of all sales professionals feel mentorships have had a significant impact on their development; few feel they have had little or no impact.

Organizations invest heavily in new sales representatives, hoping to see a return on their investments in the form of profitable performers today and industry leaders tomorrow. As the financial services industry looks to new business models to improve retention and productivity, and lay the groundwork for succession and continuity planning, support strength (leverage and collaboration) can be part of the solution

Patrick T. Leary, MBA, is associate tmanaging director, Distribution Research, for LIMRA. He may be contacted at [email protected] [email protected].

More from InsuranceNewsNet