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#1 GRIT Personality Trait for Hiring Insurance Producers (with Jamie Noe)

Don’t you hate it when you spend a boatload of your time, money, and effort finding quality candidates — only to have your newbie quit 2 weeks later?

It’s frustrating. But you don’t need to give up on hiring just because the last new Producer you hired felt like an absolute train wreck.

The truth is you have what it takes to hire Producers that’ll make it.

You just need the proven playbook to do it right. In the latest episode of Agency Growth Machine Podcast — I caught up with one of our Bignition agency owner’s, Jamie Noe (CEO of Insurance Group of America.)

Jamie let me in on his process for finding quality candidates and shared a BIG finding after assessing hundreds of them.

He looked at who made it vs. who didn’t and found they all had one thing in common.

NEVER hire another Insurance Producer unless they have this ONE personality trait.

Hiring New Producers? Get your GRIT Resources here:

GRIT Personality Inventory 

GRIT Book 

Video Transcript:

Randy Schwantz

Hey everybody, this Randy Schwantz I’m here with Jamie. No, Jamie is with IGA out of Nashville, Tennessee. How are you doing, Jamie?

 

Jamie Noe

I’m great. Randy, how are you today?

 

Randy Schwantz

I’m good, man. So, share with us a little bit about your family.

 

Jamie Noe

Yeah. So, my wife, Carly, and I’ve been married for four years, we adopted a 16 year old two and a half years ago from Columbia, South America. He’s now 18 years old. We have a baby girl, she is biological and now 16 months old, Carly. And so that’s our family. We live on a little farm out here with some horses and big dogs and like it kind of messy.

 

Randy Schwantz

Yeah, that’s cool. Well, tell me about what your operation your agency looks like.

 

Jamie Noe

Sure. So, we’re currently about $4 million in revenue we have we’re six years old. We have satellite to be full-service offices. And we’re based out of Franklin right outside Nashville, Tennessee, but we have satellite offices in Memphis, Chattanooga, and now Knoxville have about 10 salespeople, a good mix of some seasoned guys and that have been in a long time, some of those which are more partners. And then we heavily recruit young folks, both on the service and the sales side, which is one reason we’re so involved with, with the wedge process. And you have been for some time now. So, we got some young folks who are mentoring and then we always have sales interns in the in the pipeline coming along.

 

Randy Schwantz

And isn’t it true that you had left a previous farm and started from scratch. And on day one, because of some of our previous history that other from day one, you just jumped on board with us, you’re the only one that’s ever done that to my knowledge.

 

Jamie Noe

And we did so without going into detail the previous term, but I worked for a big regional firm and got bought by national firm, both very successful organizations that I have a lot of respect for but had the entrepreneur spirit and wanted to go do something different and grow from the ground up. And so, what I knew was is that we were going to hire a lot of young folks, I was I was a college intern, myself intern for two and a half years starting a business when I was 20, an intern for two and a half years in that firm. And so, I knew that I needed some kind of structure, some kind of basis. And so, I knew what I knew. And to this day, every sales call I go on I still use part of the original wedge script, which is some humor. And that is, you know, years ago, I kind of got made fun of that I didn’t bind to the wedge, which wasn’t a complete true statement. But it’s been the basis for a lot of our success. So, where we started was, I sent my initial two salespeople other than myself to your school. Essentially, they won I don’t know if it’s the first six months or first 90 days or whatever it was. And then we realized, okay, if we’re going to do that, how are we going to track this? And how are we going to measure success other than just new business? But how are we going to track our hit ratios? What when it goes into marketing? Do we call it or how many times do we, we kick it out of marketing, all that? So, within the first 12 months, we bought into our wins and from their gamer six years old, we’ve been having CRISP meetings for at least five of those years, basically take an abstract, you call it Pooja ideas and breaking it down to somebody that’s a sixth grader, it’s never understood the concept of the process we’re talking about can understand that and then tying that into a wedge or picture-perfect type situation. And then the last piece that we’ve done here in the last two and a half years, and in my opinion, I’ve shared this with you previously, that’s been the biggest differentiator to help us to save on hard costs. What I mean is, you know, real money and then opportunity costs are putting in the personality tests, your personality tests, the grip tests. In fact, I haven’t even shared this with you. But we’ve even we even if they score the level that you guys say is what we ought to go after. We’ve recreated I won’t get into all that now unless you asked me to. But we’ve even recreated and looked at some specific characteristics of here are the people that haven’t made it here, the people that are and what do they have in common? And there’s one metric in there specifically that all of that the ones who have made it have and all the ones who haven’t made it don’t have that we read thinking through that process.

 

Randy Schwantz

Well talk about that for a moment. Everybody, everybody out there is looking for the Holy Grail. Because I mean, think about the future of all agencies, the difference between where you are today and where you’re going to be five years from now is direct proportion, your ability to hire develop newbies, because you’re all these are going to get old. So, so why don’t you kind of enlighten us on what was that? What’s that thing that you saw that that made the difference? What were those characteristics?

 

Jamie Noe

Well, so let’s take a step back, let me take kind of how I got there. So, I had an intern, my favorite first intern, there’s still a great friend of mine today. He’s an amazing dude. But if I give him the personality test, I would have never hired him. So, he was an intern for 10 months, he goes into sell Salesforce once he graduated from college, and in 90 days, he’s done, he quit. And I was devastated. I spent an enormous amount of emotional energy with him, not less than the financial investment, and the opportunity cost. I mean, if I you know that, that 10 or 12 months I spent with him, I could have been spending with somebody else that, you know, in return was a producer that made it and so I came, I called you and said, Hey, man, I’m broken, how do I fix this? And that’s when we started with it. And he was such a good friend, that kid that young man ended up taking the personality test after he had quit, where I could see how he had done versus the others. And so, the grit test is basically saying, you know, looking for grit, we run through that window and get back up and growl at me and want more of it. And so, we got a certain score, that we won’t even give somebody an in-person interview until they take that. So, I spend that 140 150 bucks, whatever it is, before I’ll ever meet with somebody because of pre qual. And so, with that now, so we want to meet him in person. So then from there, you know, we’re going through the multi, multi-interview process, and so forth. But what we found is the last piece here is that if they’re low on interpersonal trust, they don’t make it with us. That doesn’t mean they won’t make it with ABC agency or a big national broker. But we are still a boutique working on being a regional broker. And you have to buy into our system, you have to buy into our culture, you have to believe that even when things really tough, and I’m really driving hard at you that I’ve got your best interest in hand. And that if you will follow the process, you will be amazed and our producer and make four or $500,000 down the road. And so, we will not moving forward hire a newbie, doesn’t matter if they score off the charts on a per site test if they still have a low interpersonal trust, because we literally went through probably 15 candidates, and all the ones who had low interpersonal trust, even though they score high, had not made it and all the ones that are on their way to major, being million-dollar producers all had high interpersonal trust.

 

Randy Schwantz

Wow, that’s a that’s a very interesting and very insightful view. And for those out there listening universal trust this when it’s low, it’s just filled with skepticism. And they’re always afraid something’s going wrong, you know, the glass is half empty, they’re looking for somebody, screw them, all that kind of stuff, when you have high interpersonal trust, knowledge that change inside the culture, that also has an impact on their ability to build relationships with people and be likeable and things like that. So, there’s, there’s kind of an to make this quick. But there’s, there’s eight components, the biggest one at the top is drive. In other words, if they got great interpersonal trust, but no drive, then they’re not going to make it. So that’s number one. But the kind of the hidden secret Jamie discovered was also interpersonal trust very powerful. So where do you find producers? Just curiously?

 

Jamie Noe

Yeah. So, we were about to so we’re forming now and hopefully, hopefully going to double that next two or three years, we were betting big on the future and throwing a lot of money and time and energy at it. But when we were a million-dollar agency we committed $100,000 to MTSU. School in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, it’s it bounces back and forth between the first and largest public university in the state between that UT Knoxville. And so, I was recruiting in the in the marketing department, they had an insurance department as well, which we support financially and find some really good backroom people there. But in their marketing department, they wanted to put an emphasis in sales. And I said, Well, hey, let’s do something works for both of us. So, we committed $100,000, over five years to MTSU. Now name the Insurance Group of America sales chair. And so, I’ll speak to three or 400 students a semester just telling them about life to learn about sells, really and sincerely from the bottom of my heart, try to get back and just talk to them in a very candid way about the things that maybe a recruiter that walks in there won’t talk to them about, you know, what the real world looks like. And very honestly, I go in not shaved shirt and tuck jeans and just. Do not trying to be some big corporate big shot. And from that, we’ll probably have that 400 students, somewhere between 50 to 100, depending on the semester will come out and want to talk to us after class we give them, give them a business card. And we were just very transparent about, Hey, nice to meet you, we’d love to talk further with you, if you’re interested, email us and we’ll email you the GRIT personality test, no hard feelings. But if you don’t score a certain level on that doesn’t mean you won’t be successful at sales, but we’re not the right spot for you. And that helps us qualify, we go to the interview process with and so on, that 400 students that we see 50 to 100 will come outside 25 to 40 will actually email us and then there’ll be about six to eight, that will, will interview and then we’ll narrow that down to two or three that fit for other reasons. One thing you said early on 10-15 years ago, if you wouldn’t have them at Thanksgiving dinner, don’t hire them. And we didn’t stay true to that, that process. So, and so that’s what happens. So that’s how we go through it. We got involved in a local university, it’s been great for the university, we give money to them and show love to those students. And in return, we get an opportunity to see some really young bright people.

 

Randy Schwantz

So, you so you’ve grown from zero to 4 million in revenue in six years from scratch. Mostly organic, all organic.

 

Jamie Noe

So, to clarify, just I mean, I got the buy 385,000 of revenue from my previous agency. Since then, we’ve probably bought… Well, no, not probably we bought $250,000 in book purchase. So, you could say less than $600,000 in revenue was purchased at some point. Yeah, grass seven has been organic and clean this year and COVID through November we’re, we’re up 26%. And so, it’s not rocket science. It’s a lot of hard work. But really, it’s a lot of training and I’m not, I’m not trying to be a commercial for you, but we really do buy into the system. You know, I’ve used example, all time that college football’s been going on for 100 years. Why is Nick Saban the most successful coach, first of all, he recruits well, which is what we try to do at MTSU. But then we just block and tackle block and tackle. Because the going back to football, you know, either you score by touch, you run the ball, you throw the ball or you kick a field go to Seoul, right, the ways of scoring haven’t changed. And so, it’s not that every week, we’re sitting in our new business meeting, our CRISP meeting, that we’re creating a new wage, but we’re just recreating it and getting more crisp on that to help ourselves win. And so, it’s just doing the same thing over and over and over and being very meticulous about it to try to, to better articulate and differentiate from our competitors.

 

Randy Schwantz

Yeah, there’s this amazing there’s a lot to learn from sports, you know, Nick Saban? Dabo, Swinney, Bill Belichick, coach, Kay, whoever it is that your hero and maybe it’s somebody else, but certainly winning professions in terms of what they do to grow, that will help you grow your agency. So, congratulations, that let me ask you this. What do you feel like? It’s been the most beneficial thing, you know, as a part of big mission here. Is it? Is it the training programs, the coaching calls, the tools, the systems? kind of watch your favorite thing?

 

Jamie Noe

I can’t answer that. It’s all of it. And because what I mean by if you go back to the original question, and sincerely I mean, this so like, we started out with the coaching similar to the schools. So that was great. That’s a great process, then we latched on to the Alvin’s program that was great. We could, we could track from marketing to, to from cold call to sale, where we went wrong, or what our statistics were. But then, you know, I’m still spending a lot of time hiring people and not getting success. And so that’s when the personality tests came in. So, I don’t think it’s a one trigger, either, in my opinion, and we’re all in if you don’t buy all in, you might as well not buy it. And I hope I hope it doesn’t offend you or anybody else. But you really, you have to buy in the whole process, right? You can’t go recruit Well, back to football; you can’t recruit well, but not have a disciplined team. You can’t have a disciplined team, but not focused on the details. I mean, so it’s just it’s really you have to have all of it to go through that. And, and listen, it’s still a lot of hard work. And it’s not to button right. Like I’m not I don’t want to sound like I’m just trying to do a commercial here. But for if you’re good till we all know what multiples are on agencies. And so, the average the average agency, like myself cannot go and purchase what the private equity is doing. So, if we’re going to grow a graph to grow, and how do we do that? Well, you know, you can go poach people from other agencies. And that’s not a bad approach. And we do that but if you’re really going to if you’re going to 10 times that you’re going to have to go find people outside the organization. And so, when you do that, you have got to give them a system, that doesn’t mean that they’re going to go out and from A to Z, say the script of the wedge, but you got to give them a form, you got to give them a basis of what to do to help them say this prospective buyer sent das. And so, I should say this. Otherwise, you’re just going to spend a boatload of money and not get a return.

 

Randy Schwantz

Yeah. So, what’s the one thing you to say someone who’s sitting on the fence about joining our network and becoming a big notion sort of client?

 

Jamie Noe

What’s the one thing I would say to him? Yep. Um, what’s your alternative? If you don’t, how you going to get there? You know, what’s your plan? You know, I mean, you’ve got to have you got to have a process. I mean, that doesn’t mean we’re not intuitive. It doesn’t mean we’re not entrepreneur. But if you don’t have a process, and you don’t have a system, you’re going to be looking three to five years and you’re still sitting where you are, or you’re sitting where you are, and you spent a buttload of money with no success.

 

Randy Schwantz

Everybody, yes, Jamie Noe, IGA, Nashville, Tennessee. Congratulations on your success. It’s an amazing story boss.

 

Jamie Noe

Thanks, man. I’m grateful.

 

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