Unique to the profession, wholesalers frequently spend hours upon hours alone. They are driving long distances from Point A to Point B, enduring unending air travel delays, or are holed up in the local Hilton.
And, not at all unique to the profession, during that alone time they have time to think.
Sometimes as they think they become increasingly dissatisfied.
And like listening to a dripping faucet in a rundown Radisson they get obsessed by the noise of their thoughts.
So what is it that wholesalers are dissatisfied about?
Lack of Communication: The marketers in the firm, working alongside of senior management, have crafted a new incentive program, or perhaps operations had to send a recovery notice to public customers, or maybe it was simply a state of the union letter from the firm’s CEO sent to producers.
In all three cases the communication did not reach the wholesaler before the intended recipient.
And in all three cases the wholesaler got blindsided by questions about something they knew nothing about.
Managers, let your partner departments know that you have a ‘central clearing house’ for all important communications and you’ll distribute on their behalf.
Granted, you can lead a wholesaler to memo but you can’t make them read…and that’s a topic for another column.
The Missing Layer of Management: The financial meltdown caused historic layoffs in our business. Among those laid off were a small army of middle managers.
Whereas prior to the meltdown Divisional Managers had 10-12 direct reports, today it is not uncommon for managers to have 15+ wholesalers – in addition to serving another role of, say, National Sales Manager.
The results are frequently not pretty.
Longer response time on escalated items, overwhelmed managers missing email messages, and the general inability to touch the folks that need frequent touching – wholesalers.
As one client stated, “Try as I might there is no way to keep up with literally hundreds of emails that hit my screen everyday”.
The result is that wholesalers can get the impression, albeit wrongly, that management does not care or is not operating with the right sense of urgency.
“Don’t Mess With My Money”: That was a direct quote from another client. In this case the wholesaler was lamenting accounting failures that caused his commission checks to be wrong – multiple months in a row.
As important to the correctness of the calculation and issuance of timely checks, so too is the recovery if the process breaks down.
“We’ll pay you next month” is perceived to mean “management doesn’t give a rip”.
“We’ll correct the problem and FedEx an out of cycle check” is interpreted as “hey, things happen and I appreciate you making good”.
The kissing cousin to this has similar effects on wholesalers: mid-year compensation changes. Most wholesalers are programmed to know that all comp bets are off starting January of any new year. It’s the mid-year changes that cause the most discontent.
Things That Fall Out of The Ivory Tower: A national sales manager recently told me that his firm vets all new producer marketing materials, seminars, consumer brochures etc. though a group of wholesalers to make sure their voice is heard.
He then told me that the firm enjoys high wholesaler retention and that the average tenure of his team is 7 plus years.
Not a chance.
Wholesalers frequently bemoan the fact that their voices are not heard. That new programs, processes, and protocols simply fall out of the ivory tower and those in charge do little to cushion the fall.
Operations Not Operating: Wholesaler schedules an appointment with a producer for 3 weeks out. Prior to the meeting the internal wholesaler does a great intro call and the producer writes their first ticket.
Upon walking into the reps office the wholesaler is presented with three confirm statements that have the client’s name spelled incorrectly and that reflect the wrong social security number. Seems that the brokers assistant tried to get the matter corrected with Operations and had no success – three times!
A great wholesaler visit to potentially catapult a new producer to top producer status turns into an unfortunate distraction and annoyance.
When it happen four more times that month it becomes a bona fide measure of wholesaler dissatisfaction.
Each of these five examples is culled from the living archive of our conversations with wholesalers every day. While they recognize that to have a job in the post meltdown world is something to be thankful for, they also know that the clouds are parting.
Firms that choose to not recognize these signature signs run the risk of finding themselves in precarious straits as the ’employer’ job market of today morphs into the ’employee’ job market of the post recession tomorrow.