At Progressive Insurance, Direct Sales Representatives (Inside Sales Representatives) are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to give consumers who call us a Progressive quote and the rates of up to three other insurers. This job involves much more than merely offering price information, it involves counseling and educating consumers about Progressive's products and services, as well as promoting the products and services, explaining how they can meet consumers' needs and selling policies.

This position is considered entry level at Progressive, and offers extensive training which leads to employees becoming licensed to sell insurance, and becoming functional at handling a variety of customer sales situations. Entry level or not, this position does require selling abilities and interests. Incentives are paid based on sales performance. This type of environment and job duty is not for everyone. Turnover for the Direct Sales Representative position (in the Mentor, OH location) is higher than the entire company average, and this paper will look at why.

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Nature of the Problem Process improvements are necessary for the Direct Sales Representative (DSR) position with the goal of reducing turnover. Employee turnover is a top concerns for managers in almost all call center environments whether the focus is on sales or service. Effective employee retention begins with the initial candidate screening, interviewing, and hiring process. Providing details of the job requirements, environment, and measurements of performance are critical to ensure that new call center personnel know what they are getting into with the new job.

Beyond the screening, factors related to training, management, and incentive compensation also impact turnover in a call center environment. Management must understand that employee turnover and recruitment cost far more than proper hiring and training aimed at increasing employee retention. Putting the right employee in the right job results in a happier, more caring and motivated employee more likely to develop skills necessary to do the job well, more receptive to learning and less likely to seek employment elsewhere.

Quality training without quality selection of employees (and visa versa) will result in lost revenue and time spent on employee recruitment. This will also result in extremely low employee retention. There is only one thing worse than a trained employee who quits, and that is an untrained employee who stays. At Progressive in Direct Sales, the training needs to also convey the importance of achieving sales goals to maintain good status. This is unique to a sales environment, and is critical to the retention of DSR's

In the last two years, Progressive has been faced with competition for high achieving sales representatives from a firm called CMI, in Solon, OH. CMI is an insurance brokerage that uses similar techniques to Progressive in that it provides customers with insurance rate quotes on three company's insurance. The reason for the competition stems from the incentive program offered by CMI. The sales representative from CMI are paid an incentive for every sale, which leads to much greater opportunity for financial reward for representatives who have strong sales skills and interests.

As you will see, a noteworthy portion of the DSR turnover in Mentor is due to DSR's leaving for CMI. Human resources advertises, sources, and screens candidates for the DSR positions. Then these candidates are hired based on a mutual decision between HR and DSR management. The Training department is involved after the hiring of new DSR's and is then responsible for preparing the new employees for licensing exam and the job functions. DSR management is involved sporadically in the employees training, but become more directly involved once the new DSR is sent to the floor as a trained DSR.

This paper will address all of these areas and relationships, as well as discussing the a potential change to the incentive structure Functions Performed by the Interacting Departments See "Is" Map attached Human Resources - The HR department coordinates the flow of applicants, screening, administration of the Progressive Simulation, interviewing, and is heavily involved in who is selected for the DSR position. Based on this, they are very influential in setting the expectations for new employees during the hiring process.