Developing Rainmakers: Richardson Insurance Industry Case Study
Developing Rainmakers - a Large Insurance Company Focuses on Sales Coaching to Drive Sales Performance
Client Company Overview
Our client serves the insurance needs of property and casualty customers from some 120 offices in 27 countries around the globe. With approximately 10,100 employees throughout North America, Europe, South America, and the Pacific Rim, they work with 8,500 independent agents and brokers worldwide. The client succeeds by establishing strong relationships with these independent agents and brokers, who place their clients’ business with their underwriters.
Because our client sells through independent producers rather than directly to policyholders, the effort to gain new business can be characterized more as orchestrating rather than straightforward selling. Another layer of complexity is the fact that the people doing the orchestrating are underwriters, who are technically oriented rather than having a sales background. More than just closing sales, underwriters also focus on assessing risks so as to minimize expensive claims down the road. With their blend of technical and sales skills, underwriters focus on potential opportunities that fit within defined underwriting parameters and then orchestrate the sale through agents and brokers.
For much of the last decade or so, this firm has been operating in soft market conditions. The issues they continue to face are not unlike those facing other competitive businesses, such as new entrants to the market and undercutting of prices.
Historically, the role of underwriter has been a more passive one, receiving submissions from agents and then doing risk analyses and pricing. With soft market conditions, they needed their underwriters to become more assertive business partners with independent producers to actively pursue business opportunities.
The Talent Strategies Group develops underwriters’ acumen via its sales curriculum. The training has been highly utilized for the last decade; however, there exists the potential for even better performance.
Our client rolled out a program called The Rainmakers, a one-on-one sales coaching program tailored to the specific development needs of high-performing individuals. Participants are provided with a professional coach who works with them to develop specific competencies relevant to their jobs and career aspirations.
Rainmakers was initially introduced as an advanced, sales development program for underwriters and marketers. A second track for sales management development was created after the first year tailored to underwriting, marketing, and field sales managers.
The firm partnered with Richardson to develop and conduct Rainmakers telephone-based sales coaching program.
Rainmakers follows a logical progression, beginning with the competency assessment. From there, participants “attend” a program orientation (while the first one was in-person, subsequent ones have been via webcast). Then, the coaching begins, with one-hour sessions occurring once a month for five months. Each call concludes by identifying follow- through activities, which are tracked on a web-based platform called ResultsEngine, a learning transfer support system from the Fort Hill Company. The program concludes after a post-coaching assessment that measures competency gains and impact on new business, as reported by participants and their managers. The post-assessment results are shared, and there is a debriefing of key learnings. Then, the process resumes with the next cohort.
Every year since Rainmakers was rolled out, the results have more than justified the cost. Using the most conservative measure, for each year of the program, the estimate of combined new and retained business tops a million dollars, and that doesn’t include the carryforward of retained business from previous years.
These financial returns — which apply only to the sales track, as the influence of those in the manager track extend beyond their book of business — are compounded by the competency gains in both tracks.
While the financial return on investment is certainly convincing, the firm says it would continue to invest in the insurance sales training program. The learnings are quickly applied and help the company to grow immediately and over the long term.
Specific feedback from each cohort shows high levels of participant engagement and results.