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Recruiting: Six Reasons They Stay—and How to Move Them

Apr 20, 2016

Posted by

Carla Cross

About Carla Cross, CRB, MA                           Read more

If you’ve recruited, you’ve heard the common—and expected—objections to coming to your company. There are only about 5 or 6. But, what can you do to convince someone who is intent on staying where he/she is—to make the move?

Most Common Reasons Agents Stay Where they Are

When I knew I was going to write this article, I asked my friends on Facebook and LinkedIn to share with me what they thought were the most common reasons agents don’t make the move. Here they are:

  1. Starting over is time-consuming.
  2. Re-branding can take away from your productivity.
  3. They are ‘happy where they are’.
  4. They aren’t convinced the grass is greener.
  5. They are afraid of change.
  6. They have gotten an offer from their present ownership to entice them to stay (better commission split, freebies, ownership, etc.)—they’re ‘bought back
Some of these, I think, are valid, maybe for the wrong reasons. Let’s look at each of them, along with exploring why people make certain decisions, and how you can affect those decisions.

1. Starting Over is Time-Consuming

Well, that’s true. It is. And, the longer we’ve been in a job, the more comfortable we are there. At face value, we can all agree with that. So, as a recruiter, what can you do to ease the burden of transition? You can create a transition plan that takes away the pain. Do you have a checklist, along with the personnel, to make that transition painless (or at least almost painless)? Show you are dedicated to managing the transition so the agent can be more productive. One of the things you’ll learn as you take them through the items on the transition plan is that most agents either have no database or a database they haven’t updated to years! So, you’ll want to assign an assistant to update or create the database. Your transition plan should include a pre-written email and hard copy message that is customized and sent by the assistant to a designated number of people in the agent’s database.

Managing the transition process really works. Armed with an assistant dedicated to implementing the transition plan, a top producing agent actually got more referrals and doubled his income the year he went from company A to company B. Why? Because the assistant ‘drove’ the contacts to the agent, increasing by far the ‘touches’ the agent had made to his valued past clients.

Click here to get my transition plan.

2. Re-branding Can Take Away from your Productivity

This is similar to the first ‘stay where I am’ reason. But, it goes further. Put yourself in the agent’s shoes. How would you like to face ordering new business cards, changing your logo on all print/electronic materials, updating your website, your blog, your social media?Overwhelming. So, that must all be included in your transition plan.

Proof is in the outcome: Be sure to gather testimonials of those you’ve helped transition, along with their income increases. That speaks volumes to the candidate!

3. They are ‘happy where they are’.

Of course they are. We’re all where we are because we believe it is safer, less fearful, and more predictable than the unknown. And, we’re happy they’re happy. But, here’s the real question: Do you believe they would be happier with you? Do you fervently believe you can help them further their careers? That’s where it starts. If you believe they would be better served to be with you, it’s your job to gain the skills to help them start feeling more comfortable with the ‘unknown.’

The Motivational Cycle Gives Us Clues for Supporting Change

Let’s look at how each of us decides to make a change—in anything. What causes you to finally make any change? How discontented to you need to be before you take action? The motivational cycle gives us clues:


Starting the motivational cycle.First we have unrealized discontent. For example: One of our bathrooms has cried out for some re-modeling, and I have ignored the cries for years. But, finally, for some reason, I recognized that cry for ‘polish’. I had talked to a contractor months ago but didn’t follow through (investigation). Recently, I finally realized that discontent (I looked at the peeling wallpaper behind the door one too many times!). Now, because my conscious discontent has been nagging me, I just made the call to the contractor. I’m ready to take action and get that bathroom looking nice! That will mean my need is realized. But, guess what? I’ll have another episode of discontent!

Our job as ‘motivational cycle facilitators’ is to help the candidate feel the maximum amount of his discontent.

How to Fire Up that Discontent

Are you asking the right questions of the candidate? You should be asking questions to help that candidate reveal areas of discontent. For example: Has the candidate been in the business several years? Does he have some frustration in the direction the company is taking? If he has voiced concerns to you, keep asking probing questions about those concerns to raise his level of discontent. Don’t worry. You won’t create discontent where he has none! But, many times we just live with that discontent—just like I did with that bathroom--because we’ve too complacent to do something about it!I want you to practice with someone to increase that pain. Don’t jump to the better picture with you or solve the problem until you’ve explored the depth and reasons for that pain.


One of the agents I recruited told me she was ‘happy where she was’, and proceeded to tell me all the things she wanted changed in the company—and was frustrated she couldn’t change them. After our conversation, I said, ‘You sure sound happy!’ She laughed, and then joined our company. Sometimes just acknowledging the discontent lets the candidate move off dead center.

4. They Aren’t Convinced the Grass is Greener.

Earlier, I said some reasons for staying are valid. I believe that the grass isn’t always greener. At least, not the kind of grass some managers fertilize! For instance, a better commission split rarely solves a production problem. But, agents try to solve it by going to an in-expensive desk fee company. Sure, less expenses are the easy way to think the problem is solved. But, the underlying cause of low production is still there. The greener grass is actually a manager with the systems to help that agent produce more successfully. Although the commission splits and fees must be competitive, they rarely resolve the real problem—discontent with the production level.

5. They are Afraid of Change

Is there anyone who isn’t afraid of change? No matter what we say, we are where we are because we are more comfortable with that than the unknown. How can you help that candidate become acclimated to the ‘new’?

  • Invite the candidate to your training sessions.

  • Offer to coach the agent.

  • Invite the agent to social functions.

  • Include the agent in your newsletters and social media.

  • Show the agent around your office and introduce him/her to your associates.

In other words, start treating the agent like she’s with you—before she is.

6. They are ‘Bought Back’.

What does this say to the agents in that office? “You’re much less valuable than the less than loyal person who is leaving us.” I don’t believe in buying back an agent. You ruin your teamwork and become less than a fair leader. Instead, of getting in a bidding war for the agent, simply recruit the other agents in that office who can’t be thrilled when they find out they are second-class citizens!

How do you handle these ‘status quo’ decisions? The more skilled you become at ‘disrupting’ the status quo, the more candidates you recruit.

Don’t forget to grab my transition plan. Click here. Let me know how these suggestions worked for you!