The producer market is getting skinny with retirees exiting businesses and not enough interest from new generations. Agencies that can deliver on both the historical benefits of an agency contract and meet new expectations for speed and efficiency will develop loyal relationships with their independent producer base faster and deeper than counterparts that rest on their laurels.
These five services are ones that producers have come to expect from the various agencies they work with. Demand for these services will likely increase from historical norms as fewer producers service an even broader market.
Make no mistake, independent producers are the rockstars of the industry for a reason: The majority of life insurance and P&C are sold by independent agents and agencies. By being easy to work with and accessible for independent producers, business entities across all lines of authority can shore up their market share for decades to come despite industry chatter about a talent crisis.
Before we launch into five key services that forward-facing agencies should provide to their independent producers, keep in mind that these are guidelines, not business coaching or legal advice. You do you… (r own due diligence).
1. Favorable compensation benefit
If we were ranking producer priorities, this would be the No. 1 item on the list. As agencies sit between carriers and producers, offering producers more favorable contracts with excellent compensation benefits is paramount.
The highest commission payout isn’t the only factor a producer should consider when evaluating their potential FMO, IMO, BGA, NMO, or other agency relationships. However, business entities that intend to keep a larger portion of a carrier’s commission payout had better prove their value in other areas. Insurance agencies working with independent producers have to demonstrate a commitment to those producers’ success, or expect to negotiate hard over compensation structures.
For agencies that have internal agents on a W-2 basis, this benefit may be set off by other employment benefits, like base salary or health care. But, for top-selling independent insurance agents, retaining a high percentage of their earned commissions is often a very high priority.
Again, it shouldn’t be the only factor an independent insurance producer uses to evaluate relationships, but it would be Naive™ to discount pay structures in agency contracts.
2. Licensing and compliance management
Insurance sales can be an unforgiving business, particularly for the newly initiated. Long hours, thankless paperwork, and fickle prospecting all provide a share of discouragement for a profession that’s experiencing a mass exodus without a corresponding influx of new talent.
Licensing and compliance, particularly for producers looking to expand their business, can be a serious challenge. Because let’s be clear, many insurance producers have some idea that, if their income is tied to commission, then every minute they aren’t selling in front of prospective clients, they aren’t making money.
Under this idea, every minute sitting doing licensing or continued education or other compliance management tasks is a minute a producer is losing money. So, agencies that can take as much of the work of licensing renewals and acquiring new state licenses off a producer’s plate as possible can better prove that they value the producers’ time and talents (i.e. selling!)..
Further, agencies that instead rely on manual paper-based processes are at risk of irritating their producers. Manual data entry and re-entry isn’t something most of us have the patience for, and even less when we’re squeezing it into ten minutes between client meetings.
3. Marketing and branding materials
For insurance producers, having marketing materials ready to deliver to prospective clients is a game-changer. Yet, many producers don’t have the time or budget to not only put together sophisticated digital and physical marketing tools but also enlist compliance consultants who can review the materials for legal liability.
Agencies that can provide sleek, producer-branded materials that follow best practices standards can gain a competitive advantage in the insurance market.
This can apply to ongoing maintenance, as well; business entities that provide a bank of stock communications for producers to use in service of existing client books are sure to earn the gratitude of agents and their staff.
4. Administrative support
Paperwork and processes, policy services, secure documentation, staff training… Truly, finding ways to “make the boring stop” is invaluable for insurance producers who may be running a shop solo. Particularly when an insurance agent may hold contracts with 40 different carriers, any agency that can streamline the sales-to-commission process via administrative support or more robust digital solutions can have a serious impact on their producers’ businesses.
Insurance producers may have staff who can handle these processes, but, particularly for independent firms, staffers may be well-intentioned family members who lack a boots-on institutional knowledge. Solutions to this need can take many forms, from a more automated sales structure and formal document handling to administrative team training or staffing policy service professionals.
Administrative support often has the downstream effect of helping independent producers end cycles of team churn, which in turn can help reduce client churn. By bolstering a producer’s business with better retention, the wheel turns again and you can ensure a longer, more gratifying relationship with a producer who’s wildly in love with your insurance firm.
5. Prospecting for new clients
Independent insurance agents are in many ways in the Wild West, hanging out in sunny California as they pan silty waterways for little flaky gold nuggets. Or, at least, that’s what comes to mind when we’re talking about insurance prospecting.
Particularly for newer agents (and in 10 years they’ll basically all be newer agents!), it probably seems as exhaustive to prospect for clients as it does to prospect for gold. That perfect alignment of licensure, need, and timing is a combination that can seem unicorn-rare.
Insurance agencies that can help independent agents find solid leads for new business are going to be better positioned than their peers to prove their value. And we’re not talking about bulk mailing lists here, but strategic initiatives that sift out people who are already interested in relevant products.
The future of insurance agent and producer relationships
Even as digital insurance purchases increase, insurance producers are a vital piece of the buyer journey. After all, while an app can compare pricing, it can’t hold your hand, look you in the eye, and provide the reassurance of a human presence. When it comes to a basic rental policy bundled with your existing car insurance, maybe that’s not a big deal. But when it comes to insurance policies that could affect your lifestyle or livelihood, you want a personal touch.
Business entities that recognize and respect that dynamic, and that apply these five services appropriately, will put themselves at the head of the class for recruiting and retaining competent insurance professionals for decades to come.
If you’re interested in how AgentSync can help you remove barriers for your team and provide a frictionless onboarding experience and better-manage producers’ licensing needs, check out AgentSync in action.