Congratulations, you have gotten your first promotion. You are on the ladder to success. Your hard work as a sales representative has paid off. You are now a sales manager.
While there are some insurance companies that will guarantee you a salary for a period of time, ultimately all sales managers are compensated by the productivity of their agents. If you are fortunate enough to be assigned to several experienced agents who consistently produce you should not have any problems.
If, however, like so many sales managers you have been assigned to a group of new agents, unless you learn some new skills quickly, you have my condolences along with my congratulations. When your guaranteed salary expires you will either need to get another promotion or have your new staff trained so that they are producing new business consistently.
Most sales managers I have spoken with during my career only get paid an override on new business. If their staff is more experienced there is a chance they are living on renewals and have no reason to produce new business on a consistent basis. They could be feasting on prime rib while you are lucky to eat ground beef.
The big insurance companies, while nobody wants to admit it, use the Peter Principle to promote talent. The Peter Principle is very simple. It states that people are promoted to their own levels of incompetence.
If the Peter Principle is true one of two things will happen to you in the future. Either you will be successful as a sales manager and promoted further up the ladder or you will not see the same level of success as a sales manager as you did as an agent. Most insurance companies realize this is true and will allow an individual who was successful as a sales agent but not as a sales manager to return to the agency force.
The reward for being a top flight sales person is often a promotion to a sales manager. Unfortunately, the skills that made you a top sales person are not the same skills that will make you a successful sales manager.
As an insurance agent, once you realized management needed you more than you needed management, you were responsible for only yourself. Except for mandated meetings, often used to make management feel good about themselves, you dictated when and how you conducted your business. You motivated yourself and sought out information above and beyond what your manager gave you to make yourself successful. You probably owe your success as an agent more to your self-discipline and desire to succeed more than to your manager. In many cases, all a manager does is recruit an agent and point him in the right direction.
As a sales manager, if you don’t already know about it, you will learn about the 80:20 law that says that 80% of the work is done by just 20% of the people. That means that if you only have 5 agents, you will be lucky to be able to count on just 1.
That one individual will be very similar to you. He will not be a team player. He will be polite to you not because you are management but because all successful sales people are polite people. If you are smart you will realize that all he wants from you is for you to remove the corporate barriers to his success.
The majority of your time will be spent recruiting, training and motivating 80% of your staff. After all, they can’t motivate themselves, can they?
As an insurance agent your sales manager encouraged you to learn many things. In order to be successful, you had to be self-motivated to learn many things. You would have learned sales techniques, product knowledge and prospecting with or without the help of your sales manager. That self reliance and discipline is what made you good and aided your promotion.
The question now is whether or not you are able to transfer the skill set you learned to rookie agents before your salary guarantee expires.
The sales skills that you learned to make you successful as an agent need to be put in the back of your mind. Occasionally, you may need to whip them out; especially if you are required to do joint sales work with your staff.
Realistically, however, the self-discipline to learn and your inner fire that is what you need to rekindle. You have to master an entire new skill set if you are going to be a successful manager. It is not enough to just be a good sales agent. You have to learn how to recruit, train and motivate people to be better than you were.
I realize these are just opinions. If you have a different point of view or something regarding your first promotions, please share it in the Comments section. No one knows everything. We always can learn something new. To subscribe to my monthly marketing newsletter