What makes someone become a successful producer?

By Antoine Orr

There is an age old argument about how an individual becomes successful; are we born to be successful or are made to be successful?

In our profession, many of us think that being affiliated with the right FMO/IMO or insurance company ensures success. Others think that success is a matter of having the right insurance and annuity sales system. And still others say it all has to do with being in the right place at the right time — location, location, location.

The right FMO/IMO

If all of the FMOs/IMOs offer basically the same products, services, payouts and perks, which FMO/IMO provides a producer with the best chance to achieve success? What does an FMO/IMO have to do to recruit, re-train and retain producers? Do FMOs/IMOs need to offer quality leads and higher payouts, or do they need to get back to basics by training their producers on how to sell a philosophy, a process and then a product?

In my opinion, the organization that teaches and implements a sales system will save money, increase revenues and have a more efficient sales force. Thousands of producers across the country are searching for organizations to teach them how to become better at providing financial solutions instead of selling products that are masked as solutions.

The benefits to the FMOs/IMOs that use a more comprehensive sales system are numerous and include a reduction in the amount of time and money spent on recruiting roadshows.

In addition, such a system will reduce the amount of income spent on hiring or retaining in-house non-premium producing business consultants and recruiting vice presidents. If FMOs and IMOs want to increase their sales force, perhaps they should require their recruiters and consultants to meet minimum production requirements. Producers respect leaders who lead by example.

The right insurance and annuity system

There are numerous insurance and annuity sales systems on the market. These products are used to convey a concept and ultimately sell a product. FMOs/IMOs spend tens of thousands of dollars on developing and supporting a proprietary sales system, while others choose to outsource this service.

So, which software package is the best? Does it depend on the line of business a producer is in? Does it boil down to ease of use and cost?

While these are important factors, a producer should not lead with a software package. Why? The reason is simple. Suppose there are 10 producers at the same FMO/IMO and all of these producers use the same software package. Which producer should the client hire? Part of the answer lies in the client’s ability to select a producer who shares a common insurance, investment and savings philosophy, and not in an overly simplified, colorful or tech savvy software package.

Producers will save a lot of time and money if they can remember to sell themselves first, and then find a software package to support their philosophy.

The right location and the right time

While location and timing are key elements to success, they are not the primary drivers of success. New York Times bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers, 2011) explains that in addition to timing and location, it takes 10,000 hours of practice before a person is recognized as one of the best in his or her chosen field.

Moreover, Russell Conwell, founder of Temple University and author of “Acres of Diamonds,” said that we need only to look in our own backyard to find the success we dream of.

The good news is that, because of our current economic conditions, many producers are in the right place and at the right time to become successful.


There are literally millions of prospects searching for a financial services professional who can help improve their cash flow, become debt free, create a tax preferred savings program and ensure financial stability throughout retirement. If FMOs and IMOs want to enhance the producer experience, they will need to reduce the emphasis on selling the “hot” product of the moment and blend the old school sales training with the next generation sales training systems.