Producer Orientation Workbook
This publication is designed to help agency owners and sales managers direct the orientation and training
of an inexperienced producer during the ﬁrst 90 days in the agency. The publication is divided into two
Orientation: A series of checklists to be used by the new producer while learning from the
experience of others in and outside the agency.
Getting Started: A reference for the sales manager or producer mentor responsible for introduc-
ing the new producer to sales activities.
In the ﬁrst section, the producer should be assigned someone to work with in each of the areas addressed.
These “mentors” should use the checklists as guides to relating their daily experience in the business. They
should sign the checklists as they are completed. Some of the checklists will have to be addressed by agency
owners or sales managers, but the manager should always “debrief ” the producer after the completion of
each checklist to evaluate how the producer is progressing.
You should provide a copy of each checklist to the producer so that original will be available for other new
producers. The producer can make notes about information learned on each checklist and should keep a
copy of the completed checklist.
These checklists have been written for orienting the new producer but could easily be used with other new
employees. You may want to add questions of your own, especially in the area of automation.
The second section (a basic primer on sales management) is for the sales manager or agency owner who is
responsible for getting the producer started in sales. The entire marketing plan for a new producer should
be in writing in as great detail as possible.
TAIA offers training for the new producer and for the new sales/producer manager. The inside cover of
this publication includes information on those programs. Contact TAIA for the dates these programs are
We recommend that the producer be licensed as soon as possible and before attending formal training.
Licensing study will lay a foundation for further study and raise questions that can be answered in class.
You can obtain an application for the state license exam by calling ITC at (800) 697-6838. Once the producer
passes the state exam, he or she can apply for a license with the Texas Department of Insurance. Remember
that if the producer is to obtain a local recording agents license, he must complete a classroom course that
meets the 80-hour study requirement during the ﬁrst 12 months of obtaining a temporary license. TAIA
does not offer this training. TDI licensing division at (512) 322-3503 can provide you with a list of approved
TAIA publishes an excellent Texas P&C License Study Guide for all license types. It includes chapter quiz-
zes and a sample exam and, of course, we are available to answer any questions your producer has about
the exam and study material. An order form for this self-study publication and other TAIA handbooks is
included at the back of this book.
Producer Orientation Workbook 1
If the new producer has no experience in the property/casualty business, we recommend the self-study course
offered by the Insurance Institute of America: Introduction to Property and Liability Insurance. This course
uses the independent agency business as a model for introducing students to the terms and processes in our
business. The course can be purchased with an exam or without. Call the Institute at (800) 644-2101.
Insurance is a foreign language to the uninitiated. Many terms and phrases will be thrown at the new pro-
ducer by more experienced people. The new producer will need a good glossary of insurance terms, just as
a traveler in a foreign country needs a good dictionary. We have found the Glossary of Insurance Terms
from Merritt Publishing to be one of the best. You can obtain a copy by calling (800) 638-7597.
Preparation for the license exam will give the new producer a good overview of insurance forms and regula-
tions. Formal training will lay a foundation in the basic policy forms used to insure most business clients.
Additional training in speciﬁc policies may be desired.
There are several sources for self-study training in individual lines of insurance.
• The Insurance Institute of America offers an excellent course in personal lines. The Institute
also has developed the Focus Series, a series of short courses on speciﬁc policy forms that include
instructor guides for use in the ofﬁce. Ask for more information when you call the Institute at
• Pictorial, Inc. has been delivering quality courses for many years and offers several courses that
explore individual policies, including standard businessowners policy structure and options. Although
written from a national perspective, the courses can be adapted to Texas with the assistance of expe-
rienced staff in the agency. Call TAIA at (800) 880-7428 for details.
• Rough Notes offers a series of continuing education courses written on speciﬁc policy forms and
coverages. Call (800) 321-1909 for a catalog.
• The publications of the International Risk Management Institute in Dallas, although not formatted
for training, make excellent references and learning tools for speciﬁc policies. Call (800) 827-7424 for
• TAIA offers several policy handbooks that include annotated policies used in Texas and articles about
key issues in coverage. These references help producers understand the importance of policy lan-
guage and provide an excellent reference for researching questions posed by clients. Use the order
form at the back of this book, or call (800) 880-7428.
2 TAIA Producer Development Program
One of the keys to success for producers in our business is the guidance that is available from a manager
or experienced producer in the agency. As a matter of fact, among the professionals who train new produc-
ers in our business, lack of hands-on mentoring in the agency is identiﬁed as the major cause of producer
failure. This guidance is especially critical if the new producer has fewer than two years of experience in
Managing and coaching a new producer in the agency is time-consuming and difﬁcult. The skills used in
training and coaching are quite different from those used by successful people in sales. If you are to help
your producer succeed, you or someone else in your agency will have to make a substantial time commitment
to the producers success and “bone up” on the skills and techniques used by successful sales managers in
other agencies. Here are some ways to do that.
TAIA offers a one-day Producer Management Seminar. The course covers both the goal-setting and report-
ing activities that will build sales discipline in the new producer and the coaching skills that encourage
success. You will come away from this seminar with a better understanding of the tasks you must perform
in the next few years to ensure this producer’s success.
There are many other resources for information on sales and producer management, and we encourage you
to become a student of the subject.
• Roger Sitkins conducts an excellent two-day training program for sales managers in Florida on a
regular basis and occasionally outside Florida. For a schedule of seminars, call (800) 647-0966.
• IIAA’s Master Agency Manager publication includes several articles on sales and producer manage-
ment, including goal setting, compensation, and contracts. Call (850) 893-4155.
• The Florida Association of Insurance Agents publishes the Producer Development Manual which
includes information for both the sales manager and the producer. It provides a basic framework for
working with a new producer in goal setting, prospecting, and selling. To order, call (800) 638-0657.
• Alan Shulman is an agency consultant who specializes in marketing and sales training. Alan’s publi-
cation Hiring and Managing Inexperienced Producers provides guidance in both managing and
coaching a new producer. It includes diskettes for constructing a compensation plan, setting goals
with a producer, and developing reports to monitor the producer’s activities. Call (800) 724-1435.
• In 1997 the IIAA Best Practices Study produced a new publication focused on sales and marketing.
Best Practices of the Leading Sales Organizations in the United States describes how other sales
industries manage the sales function and compares these approaches to the tasks in a property/casu-
alty agency. The result is an interesting analysis of how the best agencies manage and support produc-
ers. Good idea generator. If you attend TAIA’s Producer Management Seminar, you will receive a free
copy of this publication. Otherwise, call IIAA’s distribution center at (800) 261-4422.
Producer Orientation Workbook 3
New Employee Orientation
Use this orientation form to provide a smooth and efﬁcient introduction to your agency. Guide the employee
through each item on the orientation checklist, taking care to answer all questions and make sure that they
are comfortable with the surroundings. Check each “completed” box as the information is covered, and
return this list to the Administrator when completed.
Ofﬁce Policies and Procedures Responsible Party Completed
Procedures manual ■
How to use ■
How and when to update ■
Procedures important to new employee ■
Personnel manual ■
General review ■
Employment at will ■
Probationary period ■
Conﬂicts of interest ■
Vacation and paid absences ■
Ofﬁce holidays ■
Extended leave ■
Jury duty ■
Unreported absences ■
Ofﬁce hours ■
After-hours access ■
Career development ■
Licensing procedures ■
In-agency training ■
Outside training ■
Tuition and expenses ■
Publications and routing ■
Performance reviews ■
Job descriptions/forms used ■
Inadequate performance ■
Probationary period ■
Grievance procedures ■
4 TAIA Producer Development Program
Ofﬁce Policies and Procedures (cont.) Responsible Party Completed
Time sheets ■
Pay periods ■
Direct deposit ■
Optional deductions ■
Enrollment forms ■
Coverage and beneﬁts ■
Optional coverages ■
Claims reporting ■
Participation in plan ■
Begin date ■
Personal protection policies ■
Sexual harassment policy and procedures ■
Drug abuse policy ■
Privacy rights ■
Building and parking security ■
Emergency exits and procedures ■
Workers’ comp notice/claims procedures ■
Ofﬁce conduct ■
Personal phone calls ■
Personal mail ■
Personal fax and photocopies ■
Refreshments/kitchen area ■
Employee work area ■
Common work areas/library ■
Travel and entertainment ■
Credit card use ■
Expense reimbursement ■
Petty cash use ■
Producer Orientation Workbook 5
Ofﬁce Equipment and Furniture Responsible Party Completed
Software functions ■
Printers: location and use ■
Personal passwords and e-mail address ■
System security ■
Reporting problems ■
User manuals ■
Laptop checkout and use ■
Ordering supplies ■
Telephone/fax system ■
Personal extension/codes ■
After-hours use and numbers ■
Internal paging ■
Long distance calls ■
Speed dial ■
Transferring calls ■
Reporting problems ■
User’s manual ■
Outgoing fax use ■
Incoming fax distribution ■
Copy machines ■
Reporting problems ■
Mail machines ■
Incoming mail processing ■
Outgoing mail processing ■
Furniture, ﬁxtures, and supplies ■
Purchasing procedures and forms ■
Personal belongings on premises ■
Ergonomic use of equipment ■
6 TAIA Producer Development Program
Agency Organization and History Responsible Party Completed
Agency management and ownership ■
Reporting relationships ■
Current operating plan ■
Companies represented ■
Client base ■
Community involvement ■
Vendors and suppliers ■
Related industry organizations ■
Mission statement ■
Customer service standards ■
Incoming call response ■
Outgoing call introductions ■
Conﬁdentiality of customer information ■
Release of customer information ■
Visitation and greeting procedures ■
Walk-in customers ■
Forms to Be Completed Responsible Party Completed
Employment agreement ■
Personnel manual receipt ■
Employee folder ■
Salary slip/direct deposit authorization ■
INS forms ■
Insurance enrollment forms ■
Workers’ compensation notice ■
Other authorization forms ■
Other agreement forms ■
Producer Orientation Workbook 7
Give to Employee Responsible Party Completed
Agency brochure ■
Keys and security passes ■
Phone extension ■
Agency phone list ■
Name plate ■
Business cards ■
Computer password ■
Fax cover sheet ■
My signature below indicates that the items checked above have been covered during my orientation.
8 TAIA Producer Development Program
Objective: Learn Agency Processes and Positions
The new producer should visit with a person in each department of the agency to gain an understanding of
the procedures, forms, and customer contact each department has. At least one day should be spent with
someone in each position. Two or more days would be beneﬁcial, especially if one position combines several
activities, such as customer service and claims. In addition, the producer should be able to listen in on
phone conversations with customers and others. A simple, inexpensive headphone can be attached to the
phone receiver for this purpose.
Following are some questions the producer will have as he or she observes the work of various agency
personnel. Be sure to share these with the person who will be working with the producer at each position.
This staff “trainer” should check off each item as it is covered. You may want to add some items to the list,
especially in the area of automation capabilities and procedures.
Producer Orientation Workbook 9
■ How is account information accessed?
■ How is a new account set up?
■ How are manual ﬁles organized? How are computer account screens organized?
■ How is a declarations page/policy checked for accuracy?
■ How are renewals prepared for producer review?
■ How are non-renewal and cancellation notices handled?
■ What questions do customers ask, and what resources are used to answer them?
■ How are proposals prepared?
■ How are forms needed by customers prepared and issued (binders, certiﬁcates, etc.)?
■ How are ﬁre rates obtained, and what information does a published rate provide?
■ What form letters are used in customer service?
■ How does communication take place between CSRs and producers?
■ What information has the producer not provided that would be helpful to the CSR?
■ What calls could the CSR handle without referring the caller to a producer?
■ How is the suspense/diary system organized?
■ What forms, checklists, and procedures are used to prevent E&O claims?
■ How do CSRs cover for each other in absences?
■ How do CSRs develop existing accounts and cross-sell?
CSR Mentor Date completed
10 TAIA Producer Development Program
■ How are claims forms prepared?
■ What information is needed to complete a claims form?
■ How are claims communicated to the insurance company?
■ What information is provided to customers reporting a claim, both over the phone and in writing?
■ Auto ■ Liability ■ Physical damage ■ Uninsured motorists
■ Workers’ comp
■ How are claims tracked after being submitted to the company?
■ What is “subrogation,” and how does it affect the customer’s claim?
■ How are adjusters assigned to claims by different companies?
■ How is claims service evaluated?
■ How is claims information updated in the customer’s ﬁle?
■ How is historical claims information formatted when it comes from the company?
■ How is an uncovered claim handled?
Claims Mentor Date completed
Producer Orientation Workbook 11
■ How are customers billed by the agency? What down payment is collected from the customer?
When is the billing delivered to the customer?
■ Who is responsible for collecting overdue accounts?
■ What are “aged” receivables?
■ What problems with direct bill policies are encountered most frequently?
■ What is an “accounts current,” and how is it read?
■ How is a company’s account current reconciled with agency data?
■ What is a “charge back”?
■ How are checks requested and prepared?
■ How are ﬁnancial statements prepared? How is a statement read?
■ How are expenses and income coded for input? How is miscoding corrected?
■ What are the signs that an insured is having ﬁnancial problems?
Accounting Mentor Date completed
12 TAIA Producer Development Program
■ How are underwriting criteria and binding authority reported to the agency and stored?
■ What are the procedures for submitting business to each company?
■ How is an underwriting submission prepared and packaged?
■ What information about the risk is routinely included in the submission?
■ How much rating is done on the account before it is submitted to the company?
■ What kind of underwriting problems most often arise on an account? Is there a way to anticipate and
prepare for these problems?
■ If an underwriting problem is identiﬁed on an account, how is it addressed by the agency?
■ What is the importance of risk classiﬁcation? Provide examples.
■ What kind of follow-up is made with underwriters on a submission?
■ How is the “quote” delivered to the agency and in what format?
■ What kind of feedback is provided to the underwriter when an account is written or not written with
■ What is the role of the loss control engineer, and how does he or she impact the placement of an ac-
■ What forms, checklists, and procedures are used to avoid errors and omissions claims?
■ How do claims affect renewal pricing?
Marketing Mentor Date completed
Producer Orientation Workbook 13
Objective: Learn About Agency Accounts
New producers need to gain a feel quickly for the type of account most frequently written by the agency and
for the VIP accounts that receive special treatment in the agency. Below are some suggestions for proﬁling
your agency accounts. The collection of this information would be a good project for the new producer who
will have to deal with other producers and the automation experts in the agency to pull the data together.
You might also ask the producer to compare the data with the Best Practices Study or a similar benchmark
study to see how the agency stacks up against other agencies.
■ What percentage of annual revenues to the agency are derived from:
Commercial lines: _____% Personal lines: _____% Life and health _____%
■ What is the agency deﬁnition of a small commercial account? What is the average revenue per ac-
count in small commercial lines?
■ What is the retention rate on:
Commercial lines: _____% Personal lines: _____%
Accounts in force at end of year–new accounts
x 100 = retention percentage
Accounts in force at beginning of year
■ What percentage of agency revenues are derived from the ﬁve largest accounts written by the agency?
What are those accounts?
■ What are our other VIP accounts? How is a VIP account deﬁned? Which producers write these
accounts? (Provide a list of accounts by producer.)
■ What are the most frequent target or niche markets worked by producers? (If this information is not
in writing, get the opinions of all producers.)
■ How does the SIC (Standard Industry Classiﬁcation) code system work? Can we proﬁle accounts by
14 TAIA Producer Development Program
■ What is the size of our marketing area? In what territories do producers in the agency work? Do we
have accounts in other states?
■ What are our competitive advantages when we go after a commercial account?
■ Price ■ Knowledge of the prospect’s business ■ Claims service
■ Policy service ■ Knowledge of insurance coverages ■ Location
■ Personal relationship with prospect ■ Access to specialty markets
■ Reputation of agency ■ Other: ________________________________
■ What is meant by a market cycle? What is a “soft” market?
Completed with the help of Date completed
Producer Orientation Workbook 15
Objective: Learn About Agency Competitors
It is just as important for the new producer to understand the specialties and competitive advantages of
the agency’s competitors as it is to know the agency accounts. This information will give the new producer
some idea of the competition that he or she will face in sales. This information will have to be obtained by
interviewing producers in the ofﬁce.
■ Who are the major competitors in personal lines? What advantages do they have?
What is our “hit ratio” on personal lines quotes?
■ Who are the major competitors in commercial lines? What advantages do they have?
What is our “hit ratio” on commercial quotes?
■ What do we do with a prospect who doesn’t buy from us?
■ Who are the “experts” out there in speciﬁc industries? Is their advantage due to their knowledge of
the industry or their access to particular markets?
■ What group or association programs do we have trouble competing against?
■ Which agencies that we compete against do the best job for their clients, from a service and coverage
■ Are national brokers active in our area? On what type and size accounts?
■ Are any banks in our area aligned with agencies or selling insurance directly?
■ What community organizations or political ofﬁces are our competitors active in?
■ How do we separate ourselves from the competition? What are our service advantages?
Completed with the help of Date completed
16 TAIA Producer Development Program
Objective: Learn About Agency Insurance Companies
The new producer will have to become familiar with insurance company procedures and personnel. This
breaking-in period during the ﬁrst three months offers a good opportunity for the new producer to visit in-
surance companies, by appointment, and meet the people who will be working with him or her. Prepare the
producer for these visits by requiring him to proﬁle the agency’s markets based on the questions below; this
information may be obtained from producers or marketers in the agency. One excellent source for acquiring
forms and suggestions for evaluating insurance companies is the Joint Agency/Company Planning Tool
published by IIAA as part of the Best Practices Study. Some of the information developed by these questions
can be compared to the data for your agency size found in the Best Practices Study.
■ How many national carriers do we represent? How many regional carriers? How long have we repre-
sented them? How would you rate the top ﬁve in key areas (see next page):
■ With which carriers are we designated as a “preferred” agency? How do we maintain that status? Do
any producers currently serve on advisory boards for carriers?
■ What brokers do we regularly use for non-standard business?
■ Do we use the customer service centers of any carriers in personal lines?
■ What are the targeted specialties of each of our major carriers? What unique services and products do
they offer to these target industries?
■ What was our loss ratio last year with each of our major carriers? What was our retention rate?
■ With which carriers do we have download automation capabilities? Upload capabilities? Complete
■ What is the Bests rating of each of our major carriers? (If the agency subscribes to the full Bests rat-
ing publication, read the ﬁnancial and historical information on each carrier.)
■ What companies do we wish we had? Why?
Completed with the help of Date completed
Producer Orientation Workbook 17
Rank each company 1 (low) to 5 (high) in each of the following areas
----------------------- ---------------------- ---------------------- ---------------------- ----------------------
■ Competitiveness of pricing ____________ ____________ ____________ ____________ ____________
■ Stability of pricing ____________ ____________ ____________ ____________ ____________
■ Our authority to set pricing ____________ ____________ ____________ ____________ ____________
■ Flexibility in pricing ____________ ____________ ____________ ____________ ____________
■ Coverage ﬂexibility ____________ ____________ ____________ ____________ ____________
■ Timeliness of quotes ____________ ____________ ____________ ____________ ____________
■ Responsiveness to our inquiries ____________ ____________ ____________ ____________ ____________
■ Ability to block the market to other agents ____________ ____________ ____________ ____________ ____________
■ Claims services ____________ ____________ ____________ ____________ ____________
■ Loss control services ____________ ____________ ____________ ____________ ____________
■ Treatment of audits ____________ ____________ ____________ ____________ ____________
■ Billing systems ____________ ____________ ____________ ____________ ____________
■ Knowledge of staff ____________ ____________ ____________ ____________ ____________
■ Timeliness of processing ____________ ____________ ____________ ____________ ____________
TAIA Producer Development Program
Objective: Learn Agency Automation System Capabilities
Automation is an increasingly important part of any producer’s life. Your new producer will need to understand
the capabilities of the systems you use and the procedures involved for those functions they will perform,
such as prospect data management. In addition, you will want the new producer to keep pace with develop-
ments by participating in agency system training offered by vendors, interface training offered by carriers,
and basic training on standard word and data processing software such as Word, Excel, Access, and others.
Training in these standard programs is usually available from local computer companies or community col-
leges. The questions below are oriented toward the sales functions in the agency and the support provided
by the automation system.
■ Does our computer catalog and maintain contact with prospects?
■ Do we use third-party software to identify prospects in an industry?
■ Does our computer track call reports and appointments for producers?
■ What sales letters exist in our letter library? When are they used?
■ Does our computer identify cross-selling opportunities?
■ How can we proﬁle customer accounts on our computer?
■ Do we use the computer to track and follow up on carrier submissions?
■ Is rating integrated with our database system?
■ Do we have remote access to our database?
■ Do producers use laptop computers? For what sales functions?
■ What policy detail is not found on the system?
■ Do we use transactional ﬁling in personal lines? in commercial lines?
Completed with the help of Date completed
Producer Orientation Workbook 19
Objective: Learn About the Local Economy
The new producer needs information about the local business environment and how the agency interacts
with that environment. Much of this information will be gained only through experience. This initial exercise
will be especially important for the producer who is hired from outside the community. The information
below can be obtained from you or other producers in the agency.
■ What industries provide an economic base in our community? How has this base changed in the last
decade? Which industries are on the rise? Which are showing declining payrolls or revenues?
■ How does the insurance industry view our community from the standpoint of property losses and legal
■ Is our population increasing or decreasing? What are the demographics of our area by age, income,
and marital status?
■ From what professionals in the community do we receive regular referrals? Do we make referrals to
■ What civic, fraternal, or professional organizations do we belong to? Which producers are active in
■ What centers of inﬂuence do we use in prospecting for customers?
Completed with the help of Date completed
20 TAIA Producer Development Program
Objective: Learn From Experienced Producers
One of the best ways for new producers to learn about sales and customer communications is to accompany
experienced producers on sales calls. This learning experience could be structured in several ways. The new
producer could accompany several different producers on a variety of sales and customer calls, or the new
producer could work through an entire selling sequence with a producer and one prospect. Both opportu-
nities will provide some insight into how customers respond to insurance salespeople and how producers
deal with sales barriers. The new producer should be given a brieﬁng by the experienced producer before
the sales call. The questions below may help the new producer in identifying some of the techniques used
during the sales call.
■ What is the purpose of this prospect /sales call? How did the producer get the appointment?
■ How did the producer establish rapport with the prospect or customer?
■ If this was a call on an existing customer, what concerns were raised by the customer? Was the pro-
ducer able to address the customer’s concerns?
■ If this was a sales call, how did the producer get the prospect to discuss insurance or service problems
with his or her present insurance program?
■ What open questions did the producer ask (those that could not be answered with a yes or no)?
■ Did the producer get the prospect to identify his or her values and buying criteria? What questions did
the producer use to establish these buyer needs?
■ What were some ways the producer qualiﬁed the prospect to determine if the sale could be made?
■ What documents or support material were used during the discussion?
■ What objections or questions did the prospect raise and how were they addressed by the producer?
■ How did the producer bring the call objective to a close?
■ Did the producer ask for referrals? How were they obtained?
■ How much time was spent during this discussion? Was this too much or too little time?
Producer Mentor Date completed
Producer Orientation Workbook 21
If you can remember your entry into this business, perhaps you can recall the anxiety you felt. We often forget
how daunting this business can be to the uninitiated. In addition to the constant task of ﬁnding qualiﬁed
prospects to sell to, the new producer has to quickly learn coverages, market structure, underwriting cri-
teria, prospect needs and values, and the processes we use to get insurance into effect. All this in the face
of sophisticated competition and the relationship of the prospect with the current agent. Clearly, you will
need to ﬁnd ways to increase the new producer’s chances for success and his conﬁdence.
We increase our chances of success in any endeavor by setting goals and measuring what we do to reach
those goals. New producers especially need guidance from agency management and the support of other
agency staff upon whom they must rely for much information. The training and guidance of a new producer
has to be an agency-wide endeavor with the commitment of all personnel.
This document addresses three areas where the agency/sales manager must work with a new producer to
get him or her started in production:
• Establishing production goals and performance standards
• Getting started in sales and selling activities
• Getting started in prospecting
Setting Goals and Performance Standards
Since new producers are usually compensated by salary, the production goals of the producer will be based on
what is called a “validation schedule.” The validation schedule anticipates that the producer’s new business
production will gradually outstrip his or her salary so that compensation can eventually be based solely on
commission income. The producer “pays for himself” over time and begins contributing to agency proﬁts.
How quickly can you expect a new producer to validate? The answer depends on many factors unique to
the agency (markets, prospecting base, training, producer salary, etc.). Some producers validate within the
ﬁrst year with strong marketing support from the agency and staff. Others may take more than two years to
produce commission income equal to their salary. Agencies with experience in hiring new producers can set
fairly accurate validation schedules. Other agencies may have to adjust the schedule in the second and third
years. However, it is important that the validation schedule (goals) be the focus of your work with the new
producer and that the goals be aggressive. Testing the new producer with the constant pressure to produce is
one way to quickly weed out those who do not have the fortitude for sales. Carol Hamme’s publication Proﬁt
First: An Agent’s Guide to Compensating Producers, written for TAIA, includes information on creating
a three-year validation schedule for a new producer. This publication includes a diskette for constructing a
compensation plan and goals for producers. You can order a copy from TAIA.
22 TAIA Producer Development Program
The validation schedule will be expressed in terms of commission income produced. For a new producer,
the targeted commission income will have to be further deﬁned in terms of activities that will result in the
desired new business production. Here is a simple way to express selling activities:
(a) $______ new commissions needed to meet goal
(b) $______ average commissions/account
(c) ______ number of new accounts needed
(d) ______ number of sales proposals to write new accounts needed
(e) ______ number of appointments/x-dates to make sales proposals
(f) ______ number of contacts to obtain number of appointments or x-dates
These activities should be broken down by month and even by week. Obviously, the relationship between
these activities will vary by agency, markets, prospect base, and other criteria. One agency may close more
than half of the sales presentations made; another may close only one-third. While the best ratios will be
generated by agency experience, if you have not developed this precise data, you could start with these
• Average commissions per account: Divide the total commissions in the agency or the department
where the producer will be working by the associated number of accounts. If you cannot produce this
data, apply your best guess based on the size of accounts you will want the producer to work on, such
as small commercial, and the industries that he or she will target. Divide the new commissions goal by
this number (a divided by b) to determine the number of new accounts (c) that must be written dur-
ing the goal period.
• Number of sales proposals: This is the producer’s “hit ratio.” Industry averages are about 33 percent;
that is, for every three proposals made, one account is sold. If new producers receive little hands-on
support from management and have to do their own carrier marketing, their results could be lower.
On the other hand, an agency with an effective sales center and a list of well-qualiﬁed prospects may
do 50 percent or better. If you know your agency average hit ratio, divide this decimal number into the
number of accounts needed (c) to get the number of sales proposals that must be made during the
• Number of appointments: Consider that half (50 percent) of all appointments will result in proposals
being made. If the agency qualiﬁes prospects well, the number might be higher. Working prospects
from x-dates, only when policies are about to expire, may decrease this ratio if there has been con-
siderable time lapse. Multiply the number of proposals (d) by two to get the number of appointments
needed (e), or base this ﬁgure on your agency experience.
• Number of contacts: Most contacts to obtain x-dates or appointments will be made by phone. You can
expect one-third (33 percent) of the calls to produce the desired information. Again, pre-qualifying,
working in target markets, and supporting calls with an aggressive marketing program will increase
that percentage. Multiply the number of appointments (e) by 3 to get the number of contacts that will
Producer Orientation Workbook 23
be needed (f), or base the ﬁgure on your agency experience.
Goals and activities can be even more detailed. If telephone prospecting is part of the new producer’s respon-
sibilities, you could estimate and track the number of dials necessary to establish contact with a decision
maker. Or if you wish to emphasize the importance of territory management, you could track the number of
miles driven per sales call. The point of this exercise in setting goals and speciﬁc activities is that the new
producer should understand that to a large extent his or her success will depend on daily activities that
predict ultimate sales. To arrive at the weekly activity needed to reach goals, divide all numbers by 45, the
number of weeks the new producer can realistically devote to sales.
Some agencies reverse the goal setting process for new producers, since it can be difﬁcult to estimate the
amount of commission income that can be produced the ﬁrst year. These agencies, with the involvement
of the new producer, estimate the number of calls that can be made daily and calculate the commission
income from that. This approach offers more ﬂexibility to accommodate training schedules and other learn-
ing activities that take up the new producer’s time.
With either approach, keep the following points in mind in setting goals for the new producer:
• Goals should be set for more than one year, to account for the different learning and orientation rates
of new producers. The ﬁrst year’s estimates are likely to be most inaccurate.
• Training delays, which are an important ﬁrst step, will reduce the amount of commission income
you can expect in the ﬁrst year. Although you will want to set goals based on written commissions, as
much as one-half of the commission will probably be earned in the second year. Anticipate this delay
in your cash ﬂow projections.
• The business produced in the ﬁrst year may have a lower retention rate than agency averages. New
producers, unless handed a batch of qualiﬁed leads, will tend to write more insurance shoppers. Good
qualiﬁcation of leads comes with experience.
• Don’t overreact to failure to meet short-term commission goals. A lot of assumptions are made in
setting goals with a new producer. Instead, focus on the weekly activities. A producer who makes
the calls will eventually get business written. Activity reporting will also point out where training is
needed. For instance, if the producer is getting appointments on only 20 percent of his calls to tar-
geted accounts, take a look at his approach to contacts.
Weekly reporting of sales activities is recommended for new producers without previous experience. This
reporting responsibility builds the habit of discipline and helps the new producer prioritize weekly activi-
ties. There are as many good report forms as there are good agencies. The one enclosed with this report is
reprinted with permission from the Master Agency Manager. This publication includes several chapters
on sales management and can be obtained by calling (800) 638-0657.
24 TAIA Producer Development Program
Roger Sitkins with the Sitkins Group is a well-known sales and sales management trainer. He suggests that
every producer be given a performance agreement that includes production goals and what he terms “non-
optional behaviors” that support production, such as service calls on existing accounts, maintenance of a
prospect list, development of referrals, renewal reviews, and professional development. This agreement
is signed by both the producer and the sales manager. It includes an automatic probationary period and a
termination clause if the terms of the agreement are not met.
Whether you formalize the process in this manner or not, the new producer will need to know the standards
of acceptable performance in addition to production goals. The standards will vary by agency depending on
the responsibilities of the new producer, but here are areas of activity in which you may want to establish
• Prospecting Number of prospects to maintain; qualifying procedures; how to obtain
additional prospects; target industries; account size; how often to con-
tact before proposal
• Surveying/fact ﬁnding Forms to use; E&O procedures and forms; completion of applications;
• Carrier submissions Format and content; enhancements to risk; scheduled follow-ups; re-
cord of contacts and discussions
• Proposals and presentations Format and content; packaging and delivery; E&O procedures and
forms; scheduled follow-ups; obtaining referrals; establishing service
• Client service Sale follow-up; scheduled contacts; service evaluation
After the ﬁrst year, additional standards may have to be set for account service, renewal contacts, and other
activities. The sales manager must make certain that the producer is given the resources, such as trained and
knowledgeable CSRs, to meet the standards. Both production activities and standards should be monitored
and corrected when problems occur.
Producer Orientation Workbook 25
Getting Started in Sales
The exercise of setting goals will be governed to some extent by the training methods used by the agency. In
some large agencies working mainly on big accounts, the non-productive training period for a new producer
can be six months or more. But in most independent agencies, the new producer must learn while doing. This
poses the problem of how the sales manager will get the new producer involved in sales without discouraging
him with a string of failures and without losing opportunities on new accounts.
Agents have used many methods for initiating new producers into sales. The methods used depend on the
markets the producer will be working in, the resources of the agency and the time the sales manager or
another producer can devote to mentoring the new producer. Here are some ways to get producers involved
quickly and the resources you will need to support the producer:
Provide the producer with a group of This approach may work best if these are small ac-
house accounts to work at renewal counts with limited product needs, largely met by BOPs.
Or they could be one-policy accounts that need to be
developed. The new producer could work with another
producer on these renewals or an experienced CSR.
Work with other producers on new This requires a cooperative producer, or producers,
and renewal business who will devote the time to make this a meaningful
learning experience. Sharing commissions based
on the work done by the new producer is one way
to emphasize the importance of the new producer’s
Develop new leads in a target market The producer must be trained sufﬁciently to respond
identiﬁed by the sales manager customer needs in the target market. Market research,
procedures for identifying and qualifying prospects,
and an agency marketing program directed at the tar-
get industries will be needed to get the new producer
started in these sales.
Develop a personal prospect base The producer must be trained in prospecting techniques,
including scripts, follow-up, and qualifying. He or she
might begin with personal lines prospects and eventu-
ally prospect for commercial clients.
However you decide to involve the new producer in sales, and whatever markets they will work in, the learn-
ing will have to take place under the guidance of a mentor who will be both task master and helpful coach.
This person could be the agency sales manager, principal, or another experienced producer. Regardless of
formal training or prior experience in sales, the new producer will learn most from watching experienced
people work. Actually a new producer can be of valuable assistance to an experienced producer, by reliev-
ing him or her of some of the time-consuming ﬁeld and ofﬁce work. However, it is most important that the
sales activities of the new producer are meaningful and add to his or her knowledge of sales. Using a new
producer to take photos of homes or handle another producer’s correspondence is a waste of the agency’s
money and opportunity.
26 TAIA Producer Development Program
New producers could be responsible for:
• providing routine service on existing customers
• updating surveys and account information
• making public relations calls on existing customers
• coordinating work with the CSR or marketing department
• identifying additional prospects in speciﬁc areas of town
Don’t expect the new producer to do this work without error. He or she will need some oversight in the begin-
ning, and you should never trust the new producer with an account that is not established with the agency
and willing to tolerate this training period. If the new producer contributes to the loss of a major account, it
could easily be the end of that producer’s career and your investment. Also, don’t involve the new producer
only in the service on existing accounts. Selling new prospects is very different than renewing an account,
and the producer should be exposed to both activities.
It is not enough to tell a producer what you want (goals) and only monitor the results. This is especially
true for a new producer. You must be a manager of salespeople and not just sales. This coaching aspect of
sales management is often the most difﬁcult to achieve in agencies partly because it is time-consuming
and few active producers can devote attention to the needs of the new producer. In addition, the skills that
contribute to the success of a salesperson are not always the best skills to apply in coaching situations. For
example, most salespeople are aggressive, hands-on, do-it-yourself personalities who ﬁnd they have no time
to properly delegate sales activities. Yet delegation and careful oversight are exactly what is needed by an
inexperienced producer, not someone to “show them how it is done.” If you are responsible for coaching a
new producer, we suggest that you obtain some training or written information on the skills you will need to
be of most help to the producer. TAIA offers a Producer Management Seminar that provides a foundation
for a person new to sales management. Roger Sitkins conducts regular seminars on sales management as
well. For information on these and other self-study resources, see page 3.
Getting Started in Prospecting
The selling environment today is probably much different from the days when you began selling. Most agents
say that knocking on doors and other cold-calling approaches are too time-consuming and inaccurate to make
it in today’s competitive world. Producers must improve hit ratios by improving their prospecting techniques
and approaches. The goal: develop warm leads with the basic qualiﬁcations to be an agency account before
the ﬁrst appointment takes place. Even with the appropriate amount of pre-qualiﬁcation, prospects may
be dropped by the producer after the ﬁrst appointment because they don’t see a high probability of getting
the account. The sales manager will have to instill this process of creating and qualifying leads in the new
producer, even if the sales manager learned the business in a different manner.
Alan Shulman, with Shulman Consulting in New Jersey, publishes a workbook titled Hiring and Managing
Inexperienced Producers (800) 724-1435. He emphasizes prospecting as an activity that the new producer
must learn as soon as possible and never stop improving. While some agencies may be prepared to hand
the new producer a list of prospects, Alan suggests that by developing his own prospects, the producer will
improve his long-term chances for success.
Producer Orientation Workbook 27
This is not to say that the agency shouldn’t support the producer in prospecting activities. Cold-call pros-
pecting without much support from the agency is a chilling experience that even seasoned veterans try to
avoid. Alan Shulman, and most marketing experts, suggest a more structured approach in which the agency
supports the new producer with a marketing campaign directed at target markets for which the agency has
competitive products and services. The process looks like this:
Identify target market (s)
Identify prospects within the targeted market
Conduct a print campaign that includes both letters and marketing materials
Follow up the mailing with calls to obtain appointments
Follow up calls with conﬁrmations
Identify Target (Niche) Markets
The advantages of dealing in target markets have forced most agencies to adopt this method of prospecting.
Many insurance companies today are competitively priced in only a few markets, and their coverage forms
offer little advantage over the standard forms outside their market niches. Prospects in a target market are
easier to identify and qualify. At today’s commission levels, producers have to increase both the number of
prospects they meet with and their hit ratio on those prospects, and working within limited market niches
makes that possible. If large enough, target markets “feed” an agency for many years and create at least
temporary monopolies that allow rapid growth in a short time.
In reality, most agencies today target markets even if they don’t call it that. The natural ﬂow of business to
an established agency is usually governed by the expertise of its producers and the appetites of the insurance
companies represented. The ﬁrst place to look for target markets in which the new producer can work is
among the agency’s own customers. This is sometimes called “retrospective” marketing, because the agency
is identifying markets in which they already have an advantage. Once identiﬁed, the market must be tested
for its remaining potential:
28 TAIA Producer Development Program
• How many good unwritten risks can we identify? Is this industry growing locally?
• What is the account size of risks in this market? Are they growing?
• What is the commission level on the business written in this market?
• Do we have more than one company that is competitive in this market?
• Do we continue to have a competitive advantage (price, coverage, services) in this market?
• How complex are the loss exposures and insurance products in this market?
The last point could be an important one for a new producer. Some research and basic training will be neces-
sary in any market niche, but if you want the new producer to go head to head with specialized competitors,
a longer training period may be required.
Prospective target marketing involves identifying new market niches in which the agency has some competi-
tive advantage or can create one. Such markets can be identiﬁed from a number of resources:
• Your companies can be reviewed or interviewed to determine markets they presently want or will
want in the near future.
• The new producer’s own interests and experience can create a market in which he has some ready
expertise and contacts.
• The local economy and development may suggest industries that will present opportunities for
• You can brainstorm with other producers to develop markets that meet the agency’s criteria.
These markets will have to be qualiﬁed by number of prospects, premium volume, expertise in the agency,
growth potential, level of competition, and unusual risk factors that the agency can address with products
or services. It also helps if the targeted market has low visibility, intimidates the average agent, needs some
insurance product differentiation, and is the type of business that develops contacts with other prospects
in the industry (such as through an active association). An evaluation matrix that displays these and other
criteria can be created to identify a market or markets the new producer can tackle.
The new producer will have to develop some expertise in dealing with the targeted industry. The best op-
portunity to research an industry will come by writing an account and spending time with the prospect. The
new producer may need to do this under the guidance of an experienced producer. On this ﬁrst account the
new producer will study the business cycle of the prospect, the physical plant, the processes, the advertis-
ing, and other aspects of the business that give the producer the knowledge and terminology needed to
approach other prospects. Before the producer starts getting heavily involved in selling to prospects in the
industry, he must learn:
• what questions to ask prospects to identify their needs and concerns
• what regulatory, environmental, and economic factors will inﬂuence their buying decision
• what questions to ask, up front, to help underwriters provide a competitive quote
Producer Orientation Workbook 29
• which accounts are not worth the producer’s or the agency’s time
• what cutting-edge issues the prospect is dealing with in his business: automation, suppliers, mod-
ernization, distribution methods, etc.
• how to deal with questions of conﬁdentiality and conﬂict of interest
• which products can be cross-sold to prospects
Property/casualty agents, like all salespeople, have found creative ways to develop prospect lists. Your new
producer will need some help in recognizing sources for prospects.
Internal prospecting can be a good way to begin the process, but the number of prospects to be identiﬁed
is usually limited and will not sustain the producer’s need for new leads. Internal sources of prospects
• current agency customers who present cross-selling opportunities
• previous customers who have not been solicited in some time
• previous or current prospects not being worked by other producers
• third-party claimants identiﬁed from claim ﬁles
• certiﬁcate of insurance holders (outgoing and incoming)
• vendors, suppliers, and lessees of existing customers
In addition, the new producer brings to the agency his or her personal knowledge of dozens of individuals
and perhaps some businesses that would make excellent prospects. One of the ﬁrst activities of the new
producer should be to make this list of personal contacts and work those leads for sales or give the names
to someone in the agency to follow up. Once the producer begins acquiring customers, referrals from those
customers will contribute some of the best prospects to his list. Be sure that the producer is well versed in
how to obtain referrals and the importance of this activity to the agency and him personally.
Eventually most prospects should come from referrals from customers in the industries the producer is work-
ing, but there will always be a need for maintaining a list of prospects outside the agency. As the producer
saturates an industry in the marketing area, new industries will have to be approached. There are many
sources for prospects external to the agency customer base, including:
• other professionals, especially salespeople, from other industries, such as banking, real estate,
and other so-called “centers of inﬂuence”
• trade shows and exhibits
• editors of local business publications
30 TAIA Producer Development Program
• help-wanted ads that identify growing businesses
• other insurance agents without competing markets, such as direct writers
• government lists: taxes, auto registrations, building permits, manufacturing directories
• private lists: chamber of commerce, city directories, associations, clubs
• commercial lists: Dunn & Bradstreet, magazine subscribers, industrial directories, professional
This is only a small list of the possibilities. The new producer might also beneﬁt from taking unsolicited
telephone inquiries, pouring through the Yellow Pages, studying building directories in industrial complexes,
and even driving through sections of town and noting likely prospects.
The agency can do much to support the new producer in obtaining appointments or x-dates from market
prospects. Many agencies send pre-approach letters to prospects before appointment calls are made. Alan
Shulman suggests that the letter be accompanied by marketing pieces that address the targeted industry’s
concerns, and that can be designed and produced on the agency’s word processing system. What Alan
describes as an “Executive Summary” could include information about the agency and its expertise in the
target industry, companies represented, capsule descriptions of coverages, and additional services provided
by the agency that are of interest to risks in the targeted industry.
The key to marketing to targeted industries is to create in the mind of the prospect an advantage the agency
has over its competitors. This might be:
• special coverage provided by the insurance company products: transit limits, computer coverage,
broad personal injury coverage, etc.
• special knowledge of the prospect’s business: other clients in the prospect’s business, professional
designations, membership in associations, etc.
• special services directed at the needs of the prospect: reporting form assistance, appraisals, mid-
term audits, loss control, payment plans, etc.
A marketing campaign that catches the eye of the prospect will greatly assist the new producer trying to
catch the prospect’s ear when the call is made.
Call for Appointments
The new producer will need to be trained in making calls to obtain appointments or x-dates. The agency
will have to provide:
• information about the targeted industry gleaned from market reports and research
• a basic script to use in achieving call goals
Producer Orientation Workbook 31
• responses to objections that will be heard
• a system for tracking appointments or x-dates
Remember the anxiety level of the new producer. Even experienced sales people loath this part of the
game, and the more preparation you do with the new producer, the better he will be prepared to counter
the resistance he will meet. Role-playing with the sales manager or an experienced producer is a good way
to cover the basics of the calling game. Also, keep the new producer focused on the goal of the call: discover
the decision maker and get an appointment with that person in the near future (or an x-date if the agency
plans to follow up at that time). It is best to put all this down in writing so that the new producer can refer
to the information during the calls.
There are many off-the-shelf as well as homemade systems for tracking prospects. The key is to get the pro-
ducer to use the system. Weekly reports of calls made and appointments obtained is critical information for
the sales manager. Are enough calls being made? Are enough calls resulting in appointments? These reports
will also demonstrate to the new producer that the effort pays off in a list of partially qualiﬁed prospects
that will result in sales. Measurement is motivating, especially to those who are new to an activity.
Conﬁrming Call Results
Appointments made by calling prospects should be conﬁrmed in writing. The conﬁrmation letter should come
from the person who will be keeping the appointment. If the new producer is going to turn the prospect over
to another producer, that producer should be identiﬁed during the call and the conﬁrmation letter should
come from that producer. Never contact the prospect without referring to the advantages you have identiﬁed
in your marketing piece. Repetition develops credibility. These advantages can be dropped into the body of
the conﬁrmation letter or added as a P.S.
If the new producer is not successful in getting an appointment with a prospect the agency still wants to
write, a brief letter should be sent to the prospect following the call. This letter should thank the prospect
for his or her time and reinforce the agency’s position for a contact next year by referring, once again, to
the agency’s advantages.
The new producer will have to be taught how to qualify prospects at every step in the sales process. His or
her ﬁrst tendency will be to quote on every and any account. Experienced producers develop a “sixth sense”
about prospects that often keeps them out of trouble, but the basics of qualifying accounts can be taught and
the right questions can be asked. However, qualifying is not an exact science and mistakes will be made. It
is important that the producer understands that it is never too late to back out of a sale if the prospect does
not present the opportunity that he thought.
Qualifying prospects must take place from the beginning activity of selecting prospects. A prospect might
be rejected for a number of reasons, including:
• source of referral or lead
• D&B rating
32 TAIA Producer Development Program
• location of risk
• condition of risk from property and liability standpoints
• estimated account size
• current agent and relationship with that agent
• prior experience with the risk or its principals
• markets the agency represents
Once the prospect is on the list, the next opportunity to qualify the account is during the contact call to
obtain an appointment or x-date. Failure to get through the gatekeepers to the decision maker might be
one reason to disqualify a prospect, though perseverance and good call technique will reduce this problem.
Once the producer is talking with the decision maker, he can ask speciﬁc questions directed at qualiﬁcation,
• Who is your current agent? Are all your coverages with one agent?
• What problems have you had with your insurance?
• Are you part of a business domiciled outside Texas?
• When was the last time you shopped your insurance?
• What limit of liability insurance do you carry?
• Who else would be involved in making the decision to change insurance agents?
• Are you a member of ___________ professional association?
This is not an exhaustive list, and all questions would not be asked of every prospect.
It is obvious that all these questions would not be asked of a prospect with whom the agency had had no con-
tact before. The major objective of the call is to obtain an appointment; the secondary objective is to cull out
the prospects the producer has little chance of writing or the prospects that would contribute little proﬁt to
the agency. Experienced producers can help a new producer reﬁne qualifying questions and techniques.
During the initial appointment, the producer can more easily qualify the prospect for a work-up and quote.
In addition to some of the questions described above, the producer can explore these areas:
• What is the overall size of the account, and how would that translate into revenue to the agency?
• What competitors will the producer be competing against? Is there an association or afﬁnity group
program in the competition?
• How strong is the account’s relationship with the current agent or company?
• How satisﬁed is the decision maker with the services received from the present agent? When was
the last time he saw or spoke to that agent?
Producer Orientation Workbook 33
• Is there any history with the agency that could get in the way of current negotiations? Have we
quoted on this account in the past?
• What are the goals of the business? Is it growing or shrinking? How satisﬁed do the employees ap-
• What underwriting problems will be apparent on the account? What is their short-term history of
• Is the prospect a responsible insurance buyer? What does he or she expect from an agent? What
does the prospect value in a business relationship? Can I build credibility with this prospect?
• What markets do I have that can compete effectively with current terms and conditions?
• Do I or the agency have a relationship with any “inﬂuencers” in the business?
• Can this business afford to pay for the services and products they need?
Experienced producers can assess many of these issues just by talking with the business principal. New
producers will need speciﬁc questions and some practice, by both observing other producers in the ﬁeld and
by role-playing with the sales manager. The overall goal is to answer four questions that will decide whether
the producer continues with the sales process or politely backs out:
• What is my potential for writing this account?
• Am I dealing with the person who can make the decisions?
• Can the business pay for the recommendations I will make?
• Will the revenue generated be worth my time and the time of the agency personnel?
Today, many producers qualify prospects more speciﬁcally and attempt to gain a commitment to switch
agents before work on the account begins. This commitment is usually made in response to blunt questions
about what it will take to write the prospect’s business:
• What do you expect from your insurance program?
• If I provide what you expect, will you switch agents?
• What do I need to show you concerning my capabilities?
• Will the present agent see my proposal?
34 TAIA Producer Development Program
Producer Orientation Workbook ............................................................................................................1
Basic Training ......................................................................................................................................................2
Producer Management ........................................................................................................................................3
New Employee Orientation.....................................................................................................................4
Objective: Learn Agency Processes and Positions ...........................................................................................9
Objective: Learn About Agency Accounts .......................................................................................................14
Objective: Learn About Agency Competitors ..................................................................................................16
Objective: Learn About Agency Insurance Companies ..................................................................................17
Objective: Learn Agency Automation System Capabilities ...........................................................................19
Objective: Learn About the Local Economy....................................................................................................20
Objective: Learn From Experienced Producers .............................................................................................21
Getting Started .....................................................................................................................................22
Setting Goals and Performance Standards .....................................................................................................22
Performance Standards ....................................................................................................................................25
Getting Started in Sales ....................................................................................................................................26
Getting Started in Prospecting ........................................................................................................................27
Identify Target (Niche) Markets ......................................................................................................................28
Identifying Prospects ........................................................................................................................................30
Market Campaigns .............................................................................................................................................31
Call for Appointments .......................................................................................................................................31
Conﬁrming Call Results ....................................................................................................................................32
Qualifying Prospects ..........................................................................................................................................32