If independent sales agents are the lifeblood of your business, you know that good producers are hard to find and even harder to hold onto. About 80% of sales agents in the insurance industry, for example, don't even make it through the first year.

So to recruit good producers, Jim Zacha CLU, vice-president and co-owner of K& J Marketing Concepts, in New Smyrna Beach, Fla., beats the odds by using referrals and interviewing prospects on a one-on-one basis. K& J is a $500,000 independent marketing firm that sells insurance products for LifeUSA through a distribution network comprised of more than 800 independent agents. K& J earns anywhere from 1% to 20% on all products its producers sell. Considering that a good producer can generate as many as 10 contracts worth $110,000 to $130,000 a month, the importance of recruiting good producers is not lost on K& J.

Zacha's method of recruiting reps runs counter to that of the insurance industry, which typically recruits by direct mail and telemarketing. However, this results in a high turnover rate and low success ratio. K& J, on the other hand, boasts a low producer turnover rate and growth of more than 20% a year.

Zacha's formula for picking winners? "If someone has been in the business for more than five years, chances are he or she will succeed. If their marketing efforts can use our products, we have a good fit."

Copyright 1998 G+J USA Publishing