How is Just as Important as What

Whenever you onboard a new agent, there is a period of promise and opportunity. For them, it’s a shot at earning a good living and helping consumers meet a need. For you as the agency owner or manager, it’s a chance to see what new blood can do for your team.

Before you get to that, though, first you have to go through the training period. For many of us—both trainer and trainee—that’s a big ugh.

No one likes to feel like they don’t know what they’re doing. And it can feel quite tedious to have to tell someone something as simple as how to log into a software system. Nevertheless, training is a must, so you might as well try to do it well.

As the trainer, you’ve probably got a good idea of what a new agent needs to know versus an experienced one. And you’ve likely got a list of topics to cover such as:

  • Office procedures (where supplies are kept, how to handle expenses, paychecks and benefits, etc.)
  • Office workflow (processes and procedures for quoting, following up with leads, etc.)
  • Info about the insurance carriers you quote
  • Customer-service expectations
  • Professional development opportunities and expectations
  • Etc.

Keeping detailed checklists that cover every part of your training process is very helpful—check off each item as you go until you’ve covered every topic and voila! You’re done.

Except there’s more than that. While a checklist is pretty straightforward, the other part—the manner in which you train—takes a bit more finesse.

Here are a few principles of adult learning that can help guide your training plan:

1) Self-Direction

Most adults have a good idea of where their particular gaps in knowledge may lie. Instead of deciding yourself what order you want to train in, start by asking your trainee what they think they need to learn. Allow their curiosity to lead you to different topics; instruction sticks better when the learner is open to it.

2) Going Hands-On

Learning also sticks better when we try instead of watch. When possible, let the trainee operate the computer, practice the script, make the call, and fill out the form. Understand going into it that they may be nervous, and they will make some mistakes. (Raise your hand if your typing abilities suddenly decline when someone is hovering over your shoulder.) If you approach the situation with patience, they will soon become more comfortable.

3) Beware Overload

Comprehension and retention are two different things. While you could spend eight hours explaining things to someone who understands everything you are saying, they may only truly remember the last hour’s worth of what you said. Instead of worrying about getting a trainee up to speed quickly, think about doing it effectively. This could mean making a choice like having them work half-days the first week, which buys them time to let the learning sink in and keeps you from having to train for an entire day.

4) Problem Solving Works

The more you can put your trainee in a position to solve their own problem, the better. This will help them develop their own critical-thinking abilities around your work. Let’s say a trainee bombs a trial sales call. Pose questions like this that will help them figure it out on their own: How do you think that call went? At one point did it feel like it was going off the rails? What’s a different approach you could try the next time that happens?

5) Positive Reinforcement

What do you think went well? This is another important question to ask because you don’t want trainees to learn only from their mistakes. It’s equally important to lock in their wins. Add your own observations to whatever they say. Sincere praise both reinforces and creates a positive atmosphere that will help your new hires thrive.

Another way to start your new hires off right is with fresh leads from Hometown Quotes. Our filters allow you to choose the type of leads you want to receive, prospects’ zip codes, when you want the leads delivered and more. Call us at 800.820.8921 to learn more.

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