What motivates job seekers interested in building a career to choose one prospective employer over another? Many would point to higher compensation or good health insurance benefits, or perhaps a matching 401K retirement plan. You might be surprised to learn that the primary motivating factors for many interested in pursuing a career are effective job training and career advancement potential.
Last year, Combined Insurance conducted a survey of more than 400 newly trained sales agents for our supplemental insurance plans. Asked what factors drove their search for new employment, a whopping 96.7% cited our ongoing sales training programs, and 87.2% cited the potential for career advancement.
I suspect these motivations would hold true in many other career categories as well, including finance, healthcare, manufacturing, technology and life science. Recent college grads, Millennials moving up from their first job and veterans returning from tours of duty all seem to be more eager today to pursue career opportunities that will allow them to move ahead as far and as fast as their knowledge, skills and determination will take them. And that positive “can-do” attitude is one that prospective employers should pay attention to and nurture if they want to attract and keep motivated, highly qualified people who can help their enterprises grow and thrive.
What Kinds of Training and Support Are Important?
Every organization needs to focus on its own mission, business model, products and/or services when designing specific training and education plans for new hires and employee advancement. For example, a manufacturer will have different needs from those of a firm providing supplemental insurance policies. However, there are common approaches that can be applied, and here are just a few examples of the training we provide at Combined Insurance that can help new hires get on-board quickly and assist existing employees in their pursuit of advancement:
Sales and Communications Training
Being a sales agent for supplemental insurance policies means knowing and understanding an array of different products suitable for people in various situations. Our sales and communications training includes critical product knowledge and presents it in tandem with proven sales principles and a customer-centric approach.
The program uses role-playing and “what if” scenarios to teach future agents how best to assess a prospect’s specific needs, and how to explain the products in ways that directly relate to that person’s life. In this way, agents learn how different kinds of supplemental insurance can protect individuals and their families in the event of long- or short-term disability, serious injury, accidental death or the onset of a critical illness. These are sensitive topics, often difficult for people to discuss. Agents must be able to approach a prospect thoughtfully and tactfully, while still conveying complete and practical information that will allow each person to make an informed decision about the coverage they need.
Ongoing support and training can help salespeople work smarter and advance their skills to new levels of excellence. This can be done through advanced training courses, as well as by providing collateral sales materials and local marketing support, such as cooperative advertising. Salespeople can also be incentivized by employers who provide appropriate benefits, as well as opportunities for awards and bonuses recognizing outstanding achievement.
For any company in any industry, a similar customer-centric approach to sales and communications can be developed. Some organizations offer extensive professional sales training courses for their internal or external sales force, which can be immensely helpful in getting new hires off to a good start. Some firms also provide short orientation sessions for all new hires — a smart move because every person you employ is a potential salesperson for your organization. (Click here to tweet this thought.)
Too often, organizations overlook the critical need for management training. Leading is different from doing, and effectively managing a team of people responsible for a particular task or mission requires a whole new set of skills.
In addition to reporting upward in a professional manner, newly appointed managers need to learn how best to handle issues that may arise within and among the teams they lead. Training for new managers may include classroom sessions, mentoring by existing managerial staff and ongoing support as needed. Good leadership is essential, and training managers to be strong leaders is well worth the time and effort.
Ongoing Career Development is a Win for Employees…
Making ongoing education, training and career development a core value of your organization is not as difficult as it may sound. The first step is to establish a positive work environment that encourages every team member to think about and strive toward achieving their financial, professional and personal goals. The second step is to provide the tools and training opportunities to help them overcome obstacles, gain confidence and reach out for the rewards that diligence, hard work and persistence can deliver.
Employees who take advantage of their company’s career development programs are typically rewarded with greater job security and more opportunities for advancement. For many in my company, the rewards have been lasting and are both tangible and intangible. Many of our full-time employees have enjoyed long and satisfying careers with financial stability and opportunities for promotion into supervisory and management positions. And many of our sales managers across the country have built amazing territory staffs that help contribute to their own professional and financial success, as well as the success of their sales agents and communities.
…and for Employers
For employers taking the time and effort to create and sustain a culture of continual employee improvement, the rewards are equally impressive. With a stable and satisfied workforce, employee retention increases and turnover decreases. In addition, the organization becomes known in the community as a great place to work, with fair and equitable work practices and loyalty to its employees.
A philosophy of employee empowerment, backed up by action, typically leads to increased productivity and a positive, can-do attitude that extends outward to everyone the organization touches, including business partners and, of course, the customers who keep you in business.
How has career development has made a difference in your career (or the careers of your employees)?