In order to recruit insurance professionals today, many companies are looking to non-traditional sources for candidates. Since cold calling, networking, and other
conventional sales tactics are still among the most cost-effective ways to get clients, recruiting people with good phone skills is essential. Those with inside sales, collections, and telemarketing experience generally have those skills, but the training process takes longer.

Still, it is worth the effort. As long as you are willing to take the time to start a mentoring program, you often get a more motivated person. The traditional method of taking a banker or mortgage person and converting them into an insurance agent is tough in these economic times because they may have to give up a guaranteed salary and benefits to take your position, where pay is solely commission. Telemarketers are usually younger and more willing to take the risk a career change requires.

When recruiting the non-traditional candidate, you must adjust your expectations. You are likely to get a person who is not very polished, and you will have to start training them from the ground up. This may include such basic skills as how to properly dress as a professional or how to leave effective voice mails. However, you are also getting someone who does not have a lot of bad habits from previous sales jobs. For example, if you look for an experienced call center person, what you will find is someone who probably gets yelled at a dozen times a day, so rejection is not a real problem. They are also used to cold calls and will not hesitate to pick up the phone.

When training an inexperienced agent, you will have to make sure that they learn the insurance industry well on their own. Start a mentoring program, where your top agents can super vise and coach new agents in their region. Have the new agent accompany the experienced agent on several appointments so they can learn the presentation process. You are creating your own salespeople, and the time you will invest in a new producer will be nothing compared with the expense of signing on a more experienced person — and their baggage. You may also want to give the mentors “homework” assignments to assign to their mentees. This will ensure that they are learning the necessary information. You can even give them study guides for their licensing tests to guarantee success. It would be wise to provide some kind of incentive to your top salespeople to encourage them to take on the mentor role.

By following the steps below, you can successfully recruit agents from other careers, and ensure that they are a good fit for your brokerage before training.
1. The usual methods for recruiting agents — e.g., card packs, email blasts, advertisements in industry magazines, etc. — won’t work for career-changers. Instead, consider placing employment ads on top Internet job boards. This is an especially effective method for recruiting younger agents. In your employment ads, point out that you are looking for successful inside salespeople,
telemarketers, or collections agents. You can also buy targeted email lists to send out blasts to those who are currently in the industries you want to reach.

2. In your ads, use phrases like, “Take your career to the next level!” or, “Stuck in a dead-end job?” This will not only get their attention, it will also plant the idea that working for your brokerage is a career, creating better agent loyalty once they start working with you.

3. Be willing to talk to everyone first on the phone; ask some pointed questions about their background and experience to get a feel for who they are. This will allow you to judge whether you think they will be successful, and also give you an idea of their personality so that you might be better able to match them with a successful mentor in their area. Talking with them over the phone will also reinforce the idea that they will be involved in a career with your agency as opposed to bouncing between brokerages. You would be surprised by how far a few minutes on the phone can go.

4. I f they sound good, have them shadow someone for a few days. This method, which is used in pharmaceutical sales, can help determine whether the candidate has the basic people skills and street smarts necessary to successfully learn the trade. Make time to listen to what the mentor thinks about the new agent; if the mentor doesn’t think the candidate will be a successful insurance agent, it may be time to focus your efforts elsewhere.

5. Check in with the mentor frequently to judge how the new agent is doing. Create educational materials that can be used throughout the process.
Recruiting agents from new fields is tough work, especially because your recruiting and training efforts may go to waste if the new agent moves to another brokerage agency. But the alternative is nursing the constant turnover of agents as they bounce between marketing organizations, and managing the egos of each one. Career-changers are more likely to be loyal to a brokerage that took the time to recruit and train them, especially if you establish a successful mentoring program. Using these methods, you can easily convert lower-level employees into insurance sales stars.

Author's Bio: 

Mike Hayes, owner of Arizona-based recruitment company Momentum Specialized Staffing, which is Ranked #5 for Staffing Companies in Arizona Business Magazine's. You can visit their website or his blog