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RISMEDIA, December 2, 2010—Recruiting new agents is, for some managers, a task that seems to be a hit or miss proposition. They will try and engage the candidate with small talk and then launch into ‘why’ the agent should join their brokerage. Do this enough times, and the odds are good that someone will say ‘yes.’ But are we missing something? How do we know if we are really making the most of our opportunity to hire these candidates? What triggers them to say ‘yes?’ How many are slipping through our fingers because we haven’t asked them the right questions…or, for that matter, really listened and paid attention to what they have to say? The answer: too many.

Recruiting is a consultative sales process
Remembering that recruiting is a consultative sales process is the first step in developing the right atmosphere for hiring. It is essential to focus the meeting where it should be focused—on the agent, not the company—because, as we all know, selling involves, first and foremost, finding out what the prospect wants and needs. Without that information, it is almost impossible to match the right product with the buyer. And that is just as true in recruiting as it is in selling a home.

The consultative process – make it about them
Who, what, why, where, when, how—past, present and future. Finding out as much as we can about the prospect is really a matter of developing a rapport and engaging them in a conversation about the most important person in their life…themselves.

Before the meeting, do some research; ask if anyone in your office knows the individual and do an Internet search—it will be helpful in finding out more about their background; how they present themselves, what organizations and causes are important to them, and how visible and engaging they are with their client base. For instance, if they don’t utilize today’s technology, then there may be an opportunity to offer them training and help them overcome their fear of using technology to increase their sales.

Get a meeting
The first call is about getting a meeting. Nothing more. Do not get trapped into talking about commission plans and costs on the phone. That is the easiest way to lose a prospect. Besides, if that is the only thing that interests them, then you had better be a low-cost, limited feature agency. Otherwise, their loyalty to the brand is only as good as the next offer. So, insist on a face-to-face meeting: restaurant, coffee shop, your office—be open to the time and place.

The meeting
The first meeting is an opportunity for you to get to know the agent and the agent to get to know you. Once you have had a chance to ‘break the ice,’ ask them about their present situation (where are they now?); how do they perceive the current market, how do they feel (as opposed to what do they think—feel is emotional, think is logical) about their current status; then move on to the future—where do they want to be in two years?…five years?…do they have any plans in place? (how are they going to get there?). Ask (and care enough to listen intently) about their family, vacation plans, hobbies and most importantly their goals. All of these questions will help you establish what is important to the agent, and give you insight into how you and your company can help them realize a better future.

Once you know enough about the agent’s issues, needs and wants, present two or three solutions/benefits that directly speak to those most pressing needs. Don’t fall into the ‘feature dump’ trap of presenting all of your benefits as most won’t apply to their personal needs. Your worth to them must be quantified by the number of new transactions you can help them get in the next 12 months with better training or technology, mentoring or systems that they aren’t getting today. It must be positioned in a way that truly matters to the agent—how you can directly impact their career and earning potential—which in turn will allow them to have a better quality of life.

Recruiting is selling
And you can’t sell anything to anyone unless you know what they want/need. Concentrate on asking good quality questions and sincerely listen to the answers—show the agent that you care about them and their success. No matter your value proposition as a brokerage and a brand, if they don’t feel like they can trust their career to you or like you enough to work with you every day, they will not end up in your office.

Welcome aboard
When the agent finally joins your office, celebrate it. Make sure you introduce them to everyone in the office. Put up a welcome board and be available to answer any questions they might have. By taking this step, the agent will immediately begin to feel like a part of the team. In fact, they may go so far as to tell other agents about their ‘new’ office. And we all know that the easiest sales come from referrals.

Todd Shyiak is president of Cogent Step Recruiting, a leading expert in Outsourced Recruiting. Contact Todd at or 250-682-2961