Hiring Insurance Sales Reps: A Winning Strategy
- Commission and Door to Door Sales
- Commission and Door to Door Sales
When Grant Born worked as a division manager for a health insurance company called Health Markets in the mid-2000s, his team needed a spark to climb from its dead-last ranking for internal sales performance. Born turned to Time to Hire, revamped his sales team, and within a year was churning out numbers that ranked among the best in the company.
That experience stuck with Born when he co-founded his own company Healthcare Solutions Team (HST) in 2007, but it took a similar predicament to spark his interest in the service once again. HST launched with 14 insurance agents and its market reach was constrained to the greater Chicago area.
Born knew his company had to expand from the highly competitive Chicago marketplace to sustain consistent growth, but to do that required hiring insurance sales reps to cover more ground. He tried to hire insurance agents in the leanest way possible, sifting through online resumes and attending the occasional job fair or trade show to find new talent, but when the effort outnumbered the marginal results, he knew a change had to be made. Even with those he could hire, the turnover of the industry was too overwhelming and he spent the majority of his time looking for the insurance agents he needed rather than growing his business.
He turned back to Time to Hire with the goal in mind to build-out a national sales team of commission-based health insurance sales contractors. With immediate success, Born has continued to run Time to Hire campaigns to hire insurance agents on a weekly basis, and in that time HST has grown into a force of 558 agents operating across 47 states, along with 24 brick-and-mortar offices, all of which has added-up to a $20M business.
“Our business is two equal parts: sales and recruiting,” Born said. “They work hand-in-hand, so to drive sales we need more insurance agents and vice-versa, meaning our business needs to be recruiting at all times.”
As Born describes, however, many sales candidates lack insurance backgrounds and it can be a tough job to sell to newcomers. Insurance agents in most states are required to be licensed, and to make the job worth their while, some agents will need to be licensed in multiple states to expand their customer base. Also, with no base salary and startup costs, such as licensing, and the truth that insurance isn’t the glitziest profession, and Born says he’s run into many candidates who actively avoid insurance related jobs.
The insurance sales industry is also prone to rampant turnover, which drives potential candidates away and makes finding the insurance agents needed more difficult. For HST, while the top third of its agents are relatively stable, the bottom third is continually in-flux.
“Overall it tends to be a high-turnover business, which is why we’re constantly recruiting to be maintaining our sales volumes,” Born describes. “In this business, however, we beat the industry average for retention rate, and that’s because we have enough candidates coming in the door to allow us to be selective.”
Born uses the Time to Hire platform to narrow search results to sales candidates with self-employment experience or sales experience, as candidates without the right background have presented too big of a risk in previous hires for the company. His company performs group interviews consisting of 3-10 candidates, and also allows the option to webcast those interviews so agents that can’t attend in person can watch a webinar.
This approach has saved Born time, money, and effort, but more importantly it’s ensured that his company sustains growth with a committed and talented sales team.
“Time to Hire does the heavy lifting of recruiting,” Born said. “It’s very streamlined, very straightforward, compared to what we used to do within online marketing or newspaper ads, it’s much more effective and the difference is the phone rings with candidates who are looking for a job: which was always our biggest struggle.”
“We used to go to trade shows and pay extraordinary fees to get into job fairs and shows and spend an ungodly amount of time sorting through candidates without ever getting that great of a result. For the amount of money we invest, Time To Hire is by far the most effective way of easily and quickly hiring insurance sales reps.”
HST continues to run anywhere from 8 to 20 Time to Hire recruiting campaigns per week, resulting in about a 7-day turnaround to interview and a 10-day turnaround period from first introduction to hiring for chosen candidates.
Born’s sales staff has grown 4,000% in just eight years, and he credits the majority of his hiring success to Time to Hire, which he says drives about 80 percent of his company’s recruiting efforts, with the remaining efforts occurring by word-of-mouth. In recognition of the company’s impressive growth rates, Crain’s Chicago Business ranked HST at number 16 for fasting growing Chicago businesses.
Moving forward, Born will continue to promote from within, acquiring agents through Time to Hire to eventually move up the ranks.
“My only frustration is we don’t have enough people running and using the service regularly,” he says. “If we had more leaders in the company working with Time to Hire then we’d certainly see better recruiting results, but yeah we certainly plan to continue moving forward with the service for a long time.”