I recently had the pleasure of going through the interview and hiring process of Combined Insurance. If you're looking into this company for employment, read on and beware.
My interview, like most you'll find here, took place in a local hotel meeting room. It was a very typical hype filled presentation complete with all the excitement of the New way of doing business, and promises that Never again will we cold call a prospective client..
It all sounded pretty interesting and the salary plus bonuses, commissions and residuals was attractive.
The second interview was with the territory manager at his home. He asked that both my wife and I attend as they wanted to make sure that our home life wasn't going to get in the way. A little strange but I thought it was a nice touch.
After the second interview I was welcomed to the company and invited to go with that manager to the monthly training meeting. I though at this point, GREAT! This will give me a realistic look at the insurance professionals in this company and a better idea what to expect in the coming weeks.
No doubt about it, I was dead on the money in that assumption!
We arrived at the hotel and walked into the meeting room. A very small meeting room where the district manager was setting up for the meeting. We shook hands and my BS alarm sounded loud and clear. I can't put a finger on it but you know the feeling.
Now understand that I knew that Combined was an old company, (85 + years), so you would expect to meet several insurance professionals that had been with that company for quite a long time and you would expect a large attendance at this mandatory monthly meeting. Not the case at all!
There were about 40 people attending this training and I was told that this was in fact ALL of the agents .
40 agents for a territory this size? The BS alarm started to sound again.
Of that 40 or so agents, nearly half of them were new to the company. Only two had been there 10 years or more and they were the territory manager and the regional manager.
An 85 year old company with few agents and half of them new. Hmmm.
The rest was an assortment of humanity that, on first impression, lacked any telling signs of being insurance professionals. As the meeting went on, it became clear that they also lacked personality, sales skills and product knowledge.
At one point, one of the presenters held an exercise / contest whereby each of the agents would have to find the correct rates for a scenario that was presented in a given amount of time. (7 minutes as I recall).
It was just then that it dawned on me!
Nobody in the room had a computer!
The agents pulled out their RATE BOOKS (about 250 pages in a three ring binder), and stared fumbling through them to find the correct answers.
The answers were put up on the board. Yes I said answers, (plural).
Only one or two actually got the rates right and only one of those did it in the 7 minutes.
RATE BOOKS? Come on people this is 2009! The reason you're agents are having trouble getting it right and doing it fast is because the company is desperately behind the technological times!
But the meeting pressed on, (and on, and on, and on, etc).
Various questions by the attending agents really started to grate on me. They didn't know their products and no one at this training wanted to discuss products and answer their questions. They only wanted to discuss sales tactics. Additional questions about how to handle situations made it clear that the majority lacked even basic conversational skills much less sales skills.
Strange thing though, each and every one of them knew ALL of the company cheers. They ALL knew how to respond to How's your PMA?! They ALL knew when to clap just one time. But they didn't know their products and had no sales skills???
Now my BS alarm is really screaming at me!
But the final straw came when the district manager got up and gave a demonstration of the old school walk by in answer to a question. For those of you that don't know the walk by, it's a very old, slimy, high pressure sales tactic to get into some ones house. Shake their hand, look them in the eyes then break eye contact, drop their hand , point into the house and take a step by them while ASKING permission to come in.
This is the kind of stuff that gets you physically thrown out into the street if not shot as an intruder! Certainly nothing to be teaching in this day and age and most certainly not to a bunch of skill challenged newbies!
I was appalled and sickened by the entire day but I kept up appearance for the manager that had invited me, (particularly since he was my ride home), and because I actually do like the man. Of all the people that I have met with this company he is by far the most up front about things. So kudos to him!
As for the company and it's week long training in Chicago,, I'm gonna have to pass.
It's very clear that the only things they are teaching effectively is the company cheers, (as this is the only thing that everyone actually knew).
As for their New way of doing business. Total BS! They don't have a clue how to do business in any other way than the old school high pressure tactics that died a decade ago.
I failed to mention that the company provides leads for you I can't speak to the quality of these leads, (although I'm sure they are dubious at best), but I can tell you how they are delivered, boxes filled with reams of paper! We picked up about 200 pounds of them before we left.
Again, this is 2009! Have these people not yet been introduced to technology of any kind? Rate books, paper leads, old tired sales tactics, agents with no product knowledge and heavy handed, overbearing managers?
Thanks but no thanks!
If you are looking into this company I strongly suggest that you ask to attend one of these monthly meetings before you sign the papers. See it for yourself!
As for me, I AM a professional and I'm not about to get involved with something as shady as Combined Insurance appears to be.
Good luck to you all.
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