Considering a Management Role – Consider Two Key Responsibilities

Top financial and insurance producers who are considering a move into management often wonder how a leadership role differs from that of sales. Obviously, recruiting is the most important role managers play in a firm or agency. Two other vital functions are facilitating and participating in joint calls with associates and building accountability into producers’ sales efforts.

Going on Joint Calls with Associates

Most managers are expected to go on joint sales calls with their new associates. The most effective approach is to help them understand each part of the selling process, first by demonstrating. Then, over time it’s important to let them take the lead in implementing all the steps on actual calls. The key to success in joint calls is to offer guidance and moral support, but the associate needs to learn by doing. If your idea of coaching and training is to say, “Just go on this appointment with me, and watch what I do,” you probably will not sustain success as a manager.

Sometimes it’s tempting to just take over and make the sale for the new associate. Why? Because it’s easier, it generates some commission revenue quickly and it can help associates complete their pre-contract period and come on board more quickly. However, that is exactly why this can be dangerous. If you do it all for them, it will be difficult to know whether or not they have the potential to become great producers. Let’s face it, you don’t want to fast-track someone into the business whose likelihood of succeeding is low. Teaching new associates how to sell while on joint calls with them requires patience. You will need to help multiple people who need your help and who often ask the same questions repeatedly.

Do you follow a set sales system, or did you develop your own approach to fit your personal style and personality? Having an established sales system not only makes it easier to learn and develop, but the consistency it provides makes it much easier to teach it to others and hold them accountable to it.

As a personal producer, to what extent have you enjoyed teaming with other associates or going on joint calls? Does it bother you to split commissions and to turn control of the process over to someone else? If so, you might not be an ideal management candidate. Now, this doesn’t mean you won’t be highly successful in running your practice, but it might indicate that a management role might not be your best path.

To be an effective manager, we need to work with new associates directly and/or pair them up with formal mentors who are experienced associates because we believe in the joint-work process.

Holding Associates Accountable for Goals

In either instance, it is important for managers to hold associates accountable for doing pre-sale planning and post-sale debriefing. The purpose of the pre-sale planning meeting is to make sure both parties know their role in the appointment they are about to have with prospective clients. A good manager gets candidates progressively more involved in the selling process as they gain more experience. It is your role to get them ready to go on a simple sale by themselves when they successfully complete their pre-contract period.

The idea of the post-sale debrief review is to let associates know what they did well, what they could improve on and what the next step should be. This debrief will help them build confidence while identifying areas that need improvement. Managers need to help new associates build positive habits early in their careers.

Many managers enjoy the sales part of the job because they get to lead associates, help them establish and reach goals, show them how to help others and guide them toward making a great living for their families. But keep in mind that you also will need to excel at a more scientific aspect of management that requires good record keeping and attention to detail: monitoring associates’ progress and holding them accountable to hit their weekly, quarterly and annual activity and sales goals.

The best managers keep a scorecard to measure each associate’s important metrics such as the number of sales calls made, appointments held, referrals obtained, presentations delivered and sales closed. Unfortunately, many managers know they should be holding their associates accountable, but some admit that they do not like to do it.

How willing are you to be consistent and persistent about holding associates accountable so they can reach their goals and objectives? If you are not interested in doing this, you probably should not consider management. Why? Because most goals that are not in writing, shared with someone else, and reviewed weekly by an accountability partner are rarely obtained. If you do not monitor your associates’ activity and hold them accountable to their objectives, then it is doubtful that you will enjoy being a manager, and you are likely to experience low production and high turnover among your sales team.

To determine how likely you are to enjoy the transition from sales into management, be honest with yourself about the role you will be playing. The best managers are just as passionate about making their associates successful as they are about their own success. The key to making others successful is ensuring that they diligently follow the systems, without compromise, the firm has in place for its new associates. If you implement and use the systems effectively in your own sales, that is a good sign.

Do you think you would enjoy doing joint fieldwork with associates? Would you be willing to help them plan their role in client meetings and debrief them later to make sure they implement what went well? Will you be patient and determined about helping them establish good habits and correct bad habits? Are you willing to endure the frustration associated with putting energy, time, and effort into developing a new associate whom you eventually have to let go of? Do you think you will enjoy monitoring others’ activity levels and holding them accountable to their key performance indicators that lead to production growth?

If these key functions of a manager sound interesting and invigorating, then you might want to try management. But if they sound dreadful, then you will likely be happier where you are currently — in sales.

Both roles are important to your firm, your company, and the industry. Do not be embarrassed if management doesn’t seem to be a good fit for you. The people who enjoy management the most, and seem to do the best at it, get energized by coaching others to be more successful than they would be without their influence. Ask yourself what your true motive is. If you can answer that question with the idea that you have always wanted to lead and influence others, then management is likely a great fit for you.