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RISMEDIA, May 2, 2009-The number-one responsibility of any recruiter is to sign on new agents, both experienced and inexperienced. A recruiting process must be in place with a pipeline that is current and growing.

To drive the company’s growth and profitability, a recruiter must:

– Create and maintain a strong pipeline filled with new leads,
– Manage and convert leads to prospects,
– Hire.

The continuous battle of meeting recruiting goals by using traditional methods such as newspapers, inbound calls, media, etc. can be frustrating, and in most cases have been dropped. Without replacement from other methods and strategies, a gap exists. There is a better, more strategic way to attack recruiting, accelerate the pace to which leads move through the process, and convert them into profitable new agents, since current tactics aren’t cutting it. At best, they are inefficient – at worst a complete waste of time.

AlignMark introduces the benefits of using a process to move leads through the recruiting funnel with Funnel Recruiting.

Using a funnel can build on the success of your own lead generation program and define your role as a recruiter, ultimately leading to profitability.

Step 1: Define and Identify the Prospecting Funnel
Traditional prospecting methods (relics of the past and casualties of the rapid changes that have taken place in our industry) reflect old practices of recruiters securing lists of names to fuel pipelines. Recruiters expected a significant percent to respond, and in turn, all the leads-qualified or not-were turned over to brokers and managers to be converted into new agents.

Today’s prospecting funnel, monitored and managed by understanding both the processes and categories of leads, is vital for recruiters to document the cycle. And to be effective, we must fully understand the prospecting cycle as an important step in optimizing Funnel Recruiting, which will enable recruiters to deliver targeted communications that move leads from one stage to the next in the most cost-effective way possible.

Recruiters must fully segment the prospect within the funnel by including experience, years in the business, age range, career, past history, and even the family role of each person, in order to apply them to different stages in the funnel. Recruiters must also understand the types of information they need (based on their individual pain points, generation, etc.) and how they would like to receive it (i.e. direct mail, email, etc.) in order to move through all stages of the funnel. Once the definitions and segments have been established, it is time to map the cycle.

In order to monitor and manage prospects as they move through the funnel and optimize marketing programs for continuous improvement, Recruiters must:

-Profile prospects and define top prospect characteristics,
-Define target audience characteristics including demographics and psychographics (personal likes and dislikes),
-Define the cycle including phases and parties involved (i.e., don’t recruit for the X/Y generation with someone who does not understand technology),
-Benchmark conversion rates to move to the next phase (what emails do they open; where is your recruiting bottleneck; where do they opt out of messages),
-Define decision drivers and triggers including prospect needs, events, etc.,
-Secure agreement from your team on qualification criteria for leads (new, experienced, top producers, less than 5 years in the business, etc),
-Understand brokers/managers capacity for engaging with qualified prospects (i.e. don’t send 20 leads to a manager if they can’t follow up on them within a reasonable amount of time).

Step 2: Fill Your Funnel with Qualified Prospects
The early stages of the funnel are the most critical and can make the biggest difference in the length of your cycle and ultimately the success of your strategies. Yet, they are also the most difficult to optimize.

Who are your prospects? Are you targeting new or experienced? If they are experienced, have you defined them by a tier level? Experienced agents come in all shapes and sizes. Where do your prospects come from? Are you focused on sectors, industries, do they have to be currently employed, would you rather they not? Answers to questions such as these will help you identify and fill your funnel with qualified prospects. Do your recruiting campaigns differ for each segment of prospect or do you send the same message to everyone? Your funnel will lack in quantity and quality if you don’t segment and target prospects.

Step 3: Leak Proof Your Funnel
With hundreds, even thousands of dollars spent on recruiting programs, companies simply cannot afford to lose valuable opportunities due to leaks in their prospecting funnel. Leaks come from many places including forgotten or ignored leads, delayed follow-up, and leads that are dismissed too quickly. There is also the cost of wasted money on ineffective programs.

Step 4: Ensure Leads Are Not Ignored
For most recruiters, the most frustrating leak in the funnel has to be the ignored lead. After all, recruiters and companies have to work harder than ever before to produce these leads and then managers/brokers simply ignore them. Many reasons that managers/brokers do not follow-up on leads include:

-Leads are turned over too early in the cycle,
-Leads are not considered to be qualified,
-Leads from referral programs expire quickly,
-Manager/brokers do not have the capacity to follow up with leads.

Step 5: Do Not Ignore the Non-Responders
It is also important that marketing programs address both the responders and non-responders. Are you continuing to nurture those potential agents or are they disappearing into oblivion? Most campaigns ignore non-responders, but that means ignoring upwards of 98% of potential candidates.

Depending on the results of your campaigns, you may simply be reaching out to them at the wrong time or possibly with the wrong information. By carefully monitoring and targeting communications to the non-responders, it is possible to deliver your message to these prospects at another time, in another way, to increase the results of campaigns and greatly improve your Funnel Recruiting. Prospecting is far more efficient when recruiters have the ability to prioritize leads for follow-up. With prospect profiles, recruiters/managers/brokers can conduct more tailored conversations instead of simply making “cold calls.” When a prospect is contacted by a broker/manager who is fully prepared to discuss how their company can address his/her immediate interest, then this broker/manager is far more likely to get their immediate attention than contacting them unprepared.

At each stage of the funnel, it’s vital that companies measure results of all programs in order to hone in and fine-tune efforts for continuous improvement. That means tracking and focusing on improving results at each stage of the funnel to optimize Funnel Recruiting.

Step 6: Call to Action
Studies show that 70% of leads are ignored by companies. It is clear that recruiting techniques must change. Recruiters must abandon old world tactics and leverage strategies to develop leads into qualified prospects in the most efficient and effective way possible.

Glen Jaffee is vice president of AlignMark, Inc.

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