April 28, 2016
It's spring, houses are flying off the market, and as a broker, you're slammed for time. Between answering agent questions, overseeing the operations of the brokerage, and putting out unforeseen fires, you can barely breathe. And yet you still need to recruit agents. How are you going to reach that recruiting goal? What's your plan?
I don't have time to create a plan, you may think. Or, even if I did, I don't have time to carry it out in all its different pieces. But what is the cost of being reactive versus proactive? You may gain time in the immediate term, but will you gain time in the long term? And more importantly, will you sign agents?
I've worked with countless brokers to help them recruit and win agents without having it be at the cost of their sanity. And the number one thing I tell them is you have to have a strategic outreach process. Not a haphazard, loose list of agents and goals, but an intentional, relationship-building strategy.
But where do I start? You're probably thinking. Or what does this mean? Don't panic.
How many contacts do you have in your network that you need to reach out to? And where are they? In your phone? In your email? In a spreadsheet? Just thinking about it can be overwhelming. But here are two ways to get a handle on your relationships:
First, aggregate your contacts in a central location. If you don't have everyone in one place, you might miss someone important when you separate your contacts into prioritized groups. Whether you choose to manually download everyone into a single spreadsheet or use a tool like Contactually to automatically centralize your contacts for you, make sure you don't skip over this step. Simply seeing someone's name could remind you of potential value for connections, referrals, or industry insight.
Second, identify which contacts are most important for recruiting. Don't try to categorize every one of your contacts. But I need to organize them! You're thinking. But here's a tip: Don't fall prey to the OCD trap and spend hours and hours labeling each and every person you know. It may be tempting, but know that this is a massive waste of time. You have many better things to do, among them, recruiting agents.
Don't believe for a second that you should or can stay in touch with everyone in your network. Let me tell you now that you cannot, and you shouldn't try to. Even superhero brokers don't have the time or energy to do this. So choose your 150-250 most important contacts for the goal at hand and be happy with that. The more focused you are in your outreach, the better.
Some tips on whom to pick: Obviously, you'll want to label the agents you're hoping to recruit, and you'll probably want to do so on a tiered basis. In other words, you'll want to label differently your top candidates (top producers and agents with high potential for above-average production) from your secondary candidates. You may also want to highlight warm leads (agents who have expressed interest in speaking with you or are further along in the recruiting process), people in your network that send you referrals, and referrals themselves.
Why is it important to prioritize? You know the answer to that: Because certain candidates represent greater potential for brokerage profits than others, and because you have limited time, so you want to be sure to allocate your free moments accordingly. If you only have 15 minutes, spend that time following up with the agents you want most and the agents whom you feel you have the strongest possibility of actually recruiting. Follow the rule of thumb you teach your agents: Don't waste time chasing down leads you know you have a low likelihood of closing.
Now that you have identified which recruiting candidates and other contacts in your network are most important to brokerage growth, create a plan for following up with each group. Yes, it would be faster to create just one process for everyone, but the results will be better if you have processes tailored to each group of contacts.
The time you spend now in outlining strategic relationship-building plans will come back to you later in higher conversion rates: More referrals, more connections, and ultimately, more signed agents.
So, what does a strategic relationship-building plan look like? It sounds like a mouthful, but it's actually pretty simple. Think of it this way: Each one of your contact groups (top candidates, referrals, sources of referrals, etc.) have different profiles, so you'll want to reach out and communicate in the manner most appropriate to each profile type. And instead of having a general reminder to follow up every so often, make a list of outreach actions - in other words, a series of steps that you know will build up your relationship with the contact and increase the likelihood of your achieving your goal, whether that's a referral, a conversation, or a passive candidate converted to an agent on your roster.
You may be asking yourself how you know what to include in your strategic follow-up processes. Think about how you've effectively recruited in the past and what types of ways you've communicated with the different groups of people you were
working with. For example, you likely communicate differently with cold leads than with referrals. To help you outline your first process, go back through your sent files and find an email to someone who is now one of your agents but who once was a cold lead.
What wording did you use? How many times did you follow up, and when did you email versus text versus call? Did you share articles or go out for coffee or drinks? Now, knowing what made you a successful recruiter and perhaps incorporating some of what you've seen be effective for other brokers, write down the steps you'd like to take to convert a current cold lead to a signed agent at your brokerage.
Do this for each group of contacts you've identified as important to your recruiting efforts. Then find a way to scale these processes so that you can repeat them for designated contacts and not have to rely on your memory to hold you accountable.
This could be as manual as labeling the columns of a spreadsheet or as automated as using the programs feature of Contactually. Regardless, don't depend on your brain to trigger each step for you. You may not want to use technology to automate actual messages, preferring to personalize each one, and that's fine, but don't discount its uses for automating or pushing out reminders to follow up in a specific way. The more you hold yourself accountable to a system, the more consistently you'll be able to build relationships and the higher your likelihood of recruiting the agents you need.
This last one is short, but it's important: People crave authentic relationships. You know this because it's what you teach to your agents when they're working with clients. So why should it be any different for recruiting? It's not. Agents want personalized outreach just as much as their clients do.
Don't email them a list of your benefits and expect them to respond with enthusiastic interest. Don't send them an email you obviously spent no time on. And don't mass email them, no matter how many personalization capabilities your mass email tool claims to have. Including someone's name in the subject line or following the email greeting does not count as a personal touch. Everyone knows these emails are formulaic. Believe me, just as you delete everyone else's sleek mass emails, so are they deleting yours.
Remember, you're not trying to market to agents at a high level. That's marketing's job. Your job is to recruit agents, and that means building genuine relationships. Relationship building takes time, and it certainly takes effort. But I guarantee that the time and energy you put in to recruiting now will come back to you in the form of a stronger roster in the future. If you can be proactive in your recruiting instead of reactive, you'll not only have success, but you'll have repeatable success.
Each year you challenge your agents to take their production levels up a notch. Now I challenge you. Identify the contacts most important to brokerage growth. Build a systematic process for recruiting. Engage with them in a personal way. Follow- up.
You're in luck. We've compiled a list of the top email templates to use to recruit agents. Download the templates below.
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