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The Producer Pit: How to Avoid Wasting Time and Money on Ineffective Salespeople

It’s not just poor leadership or a down economy that can trip off a financial disaster within your agency. Unwittingly hiring a producer who’s ill-suited to the job will also do the trick. Bad hires are incredibly expensive; the final cost can be thousands of dollars in unrecoverable work expenses and an incalculable amount in lost sales and margin. Factor in your time (and emotions), and you’ve got every manager’s worst nightmare.

Even if your agency can absorb the financial expense of frequent hiring and firing, constant employee turnover causes other problems. It makes even the most reputable agency seem like a questionable place to work. Outsiders wonder about the environment and morale of any agency that can’t hold on to its employees for very long. Your pool of interested, viable job candidates could dwindle.

But there are ways to stop the cycle of bad hires when searching for good producers.



Know your needs. Are you looking to “clone” one of your existing producers? Or, to the contrary, is there a nightmare employee from the past with traits you’d like to avoid? Make a list of the objectives for the job and clearly define the key strengths and overall criteria you’re targeting. Keep in mind your own management approach and work environment. Now you have a basis from which to flag a candidate as either potentially suitable – or a decidedly bad fit.

Know where to look for possible sales superstars. The ideal person for your job may not be actively looking; use your networking skills as an alternative to simply posting the job online.

Don’t forget to promote the job as a financially rewarding career-growth opportunity and your agency as a great place to work. Give currently employed Producers every reason to even consider meeting with you.



Make your interviewee comfortable by initiating a little small talk at the outset of your meeting. Take note of the responses, but keep in mind that some personalities are far more comfortable than others conversing with strangers. Outgoing individuals enjoy being the center of attention, so don’t be misled by their verbal ease. These candidates might be excellent at promoting themselves, but social confidence doesn’t necessarily translate into closing ability. Look for evidence of strong determination, the ability to push back, negotiate and deal with confrontation.

Ask behavioral questions and read between the lines. Did your candidate successfully finalize tough sales in the past? Look for signs of resilience for bouncing back from the inevitable setbacks, turndowns and losses. Use an Omnia behavioral assessment to gain insight on compatibility with the job.

The more information you gather, the better off you’ll be. Knowing in advance about a person’s probable strengths and challenges makes your job easier and allows you to decide for yourself whether you believe your candidate will bring a new dimension to the team or destructively undermine its success.



Now you should be ready to make a more informed hiring decision. For example, you may have a candidate with the traits of a win-driven closer and proof to substantiate past success. However, this same person may be less consultative than your ideal candidate. Should you make the hire?

The answer depends on how you feel about bringing aboard a person who approaches the job differently than you expected. Are you willing to coach this person to elevate their consultative skills? If so, hiring a new employee with proven abilities but a different sales style might work for you. If not, it’s probably best to choose a producer who aligns more closely with your objectives.

An impressive resume, a solid reputation, and a professional appearance might have sparked your interest, but looking past the initial appeals, digging a little deeper and using all your resources, gives you the upper hand when hiring.


Did You Know?

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About the Author: The Omnia Group, Inc. The Omnia Group helps clients manage more effectively and gain insight into employee strengths, challenges, and behaviors. For more information about employee assessments, call Omnia at 800-525-7117 or email:

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