Determinants of performance in an insurance sales team : a case study of the UAP insurance direct sales force
Kiruti, John Michael Itimu
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The tied agents’ distribution channel for selling general insurance products was pioneered in Kenya by UAP Insurance Company through the Direct Sales Force channel in 2001. In this study the relationship between sales performance as the dependent variable and five identified independent variables was investigated within the context of Direct Sales Force working in teams at UAP. The identified determinants of sales performance were; Team leadership, Team work design, Team member organisational commitment, Team member capacity and team member work-life balance. The research used both quantitative and qualitative approaches as the independent variables under study related to perceptions and views of the participants, a qualitative aspect while actual sales performance was quantitative. Actual sales performance was measured in terms of average premium generated per team as well Top Achievers or Tier 1 DSF premium as a percentage of team total premiums. According to UAP, Top Achievers DSF had a premium volume in excess of Kes.2.8 Million annually. Survey research design was used to collect data by way of questionnaire to the Direct Sales Force Agents selected in the sample while an interview was used on the Head of DSF. A sample of 140 agents out of 563 DSF agents was selected using stratified sampling probability method. The study revealed that mean rating on work design was high at 0.40637 equivalent to 81.3%in respect of job autonomy, social support and interaction with the customer. On commitment, the mean was highest on Affective commitment at 3.7934 or 75.9% signifying high emotional connection with the organization. On leadership style, above average results was recorded on transformational leadership at 76.7%. However work life balance recorded a below average score of 2.65% or 53% indicating little or no conflict between work and family in these teams. Competence also had average score with experience at 3.1639 or 63.3% and education at 2.9698 or 59.4%. However in linking these variables to the dependent variable findings using both the Spearman’s rank correlation and Pearson correlation show that none of the predictors were statistically significant at p = 0.05 level. The study concludes that none of the independent variables was related to sales teams’ performance as measured in terms of average premium sales per team and percentage of the top achievers premium to total premium. Team performance may be explained through aggregated individual efforts by DSF agents and not through coordinated team effort to achieve results.The research encountered limitations in terms of the number of responses due to the nature of work of the respondents as field staff. Another limitation revolved around the geographical spread of the teams across nine towns in Kenya requiring great challenges to coordinate distribution and collection of the questionnaires. It is suggested that future research be carried out on the determinants of performance for DSF as individuals and not in teams. More specifically on what drives high achievers to great performance and what had kept the low achievers on dismal performance.