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Recruiting: Take Your Story from “Romance” to Reality

Feb 6, 2013

Posted by

Carla Cross

About Carla Cross, CRB, MA International speaker, trainer, and coach specializing in career development, business planning, brokerage management, leadership, and instructor development. What sets Read more

We all love to be sold.  We love to hear we’re special, and that we don’t have to do much to get rich.  Sadly, the more we’ve been beaten down, the more susceptible we are to this kind of sales presentation and persuasion.  The wise person understands the downside to this approach.

The real estate market of the last few years certainly has deflated many real estate professionals!  When recruiting -- and playing to the interviewee’s needs -- many recruiters have used what I call this “romantic” type of recruiting presentation:

•  First, there’s the attraction;

•  Next, the “best light” representation;

•  Then, the promises;

•  Finally, the marriage and honeymoon. (You’re hired!)

What happens when the honeymoon is over?  As reality sets in, those who married in a “blush of romance” wake up in the cold light of day.  Too many times, it looks way different.  It’s the same way in a real estate office.

When Expectations Don’t Match Reality

In courting, the ultimate letdown results in divorce.  It’s the same in real estate recruiting.  The recruiting promises made when the market was on fire are creating a backlash today.  We go through trends in recruiting stories.  Our last trend was promises, promises, promises.  And, because the market was hot, sometimes those promises got kept.  But, recruiters kept using that type of presentation even as the market got tougher.  Now, it’s a new era.  The market isn’t driving success.  So, the promises made are falling flat.  In fact, there’s a huge backlash from the agents recruited with high romance.

About Those Promises

Roughly, there are two categories of real estate companies:

•  Traditional;

•  Revenue-sharing.

Both types of companies have been guilty of the “extreme romance” approach.

Let’s take the traditional brokers first, just because they’ve been here longer.  Common promises from them are:

•  “You’ll be successful with us because we’re a big, established company.”

•  “We have the top agent and you’ll be a top agent, too.”

Now, let’s tackle the revenue-sharing companies.  Their promises sound like this:

•  “Join us and you’ll receive thousands in residual income.”

•  “You don’t have to sell real estate.  Just recruit.”

In one of Stefan Swanepoel’s recent Trends Reports,  out of the six residential companies, he picked as new companies to watch, three had some kind of revenue sharing.  This is a trend.  I’m afraid though that, just like franchises in the ’70s and ’80s, were thought to be answers to a prayer, now revenue sharing is seen as the answer.  Not so fast.  It’s not that simple.  The truth:  Neither type of promise -- “easy business” or “revenue sharing” -- can be kept without the individual agent doing some considerable work.

Failed Agents Take Their Grumbling to the Web

Agents today aren’t as successful as they were in the “on fire” market days.  Neither the commissions nor the residuals promised during the “romantic” interview are rolling in.  So, what and who is the problem?  According to these failed agents, the problem is that recruiters made promises that weren’t delivered.  Whether you believe that or not, that is their perception.  Not only that, they’ve gone virtual and viral with their sharp criticism of their former companies.  Just read some of the posts and comments on some blogs.  Boy, will you get an “earful!”

The backlash has a recruiting cost.  It’s not just a group of disgruntled agents telling their friends.  They’re telling the world -- potential agents and clients alike.  Consider for a minute what a damaged image will cost you.

Agents Aren’t Buying What the “Romance” Recruiter is Selling

Besides the loss of your credibility, and increased difficulty to recruit, here’s another huge reason to go from “romance” to reality:  better educated agents are coming into the industry.  They’re not going to “buy” inflated claims.

Here is an excerpt from an article by Charles Dahlheimer in The Real Estate Professional:

“Recapping 2010:  The Top Ten Trends at the End of the First Decade.

Real estate schools nationwide had been reporting declining numbers for their pre-license courses since the real estate bubble burst.  However, the trend seems to be reversing, with classes once again beginning to fill.  Even more significant is the fact that a much larger percentage of applicants for real estate licenses are coming from the ranks of seasoned business professionals.  This is a result of corporate downsizing, early retirements and business closings.  Real estate companies that have not focused on recruiting brand new agents might consider taking a second look at the Class of 2011.”

This is the kind of interview a business-savvy candidate expects:

•  An interview that challenges them -- not just a shine-it-on, make promises interview;

•  An interview that informs them -- exactly what will your training and coaching do for that person;

•  An interview that tells the truth attractively -- without “I can’t believe it’s true” promises.  Why?  They have endured dozens of interviews as businesspeople (they may also have been the interviewer in some cases).  They have studied interviewing.  They’re not naïve about the skills of the interviewer.  They have expectations for -- and about -- a professional interview.

Polish Your Interview:  From Romanticism to Realism

How will you put realism into your recruiting presentation?  Several ways:

•  Show the “agent development track” that you have created for your agents:  Your orientation process, your initial training, your business start-up plan and your coaching.

•  Show how others in your office followed that track and enjoyed success.

•  Show the specific leadership strategies you’ve created to encourage teamwork, production-focus, and empowerment.

Remember, we believe what we see, not what we hear.  Show it.  Don’t just tell it.

What to drop:  Don’t pick out that one superstar, or someone you “fed.”  The savvy candidate will go right to that person and find out what’s truly normal.

Key point:  Today, you’re the magnet!  So make your presentation really strong.

Today, the Trend is Away from “Filling the Desks.”

I know.  You’ve been rewarded and acknowledged for filling those very desks.  But, how profitable has it been?  Who benefited?  How hard has it been to go back out there and start that “first year” all over again (because your recruits left in a year)?  What’s the toll on your self-esteem or your manager’s?  How many managers have you burned through to find one who didn't mind doing the “first year” all over again -- and again -- and yet again?  And you’ve also been let down by recruits’ promises.  You’ve found too often that a new recruit doesn’t necessarily guarantee bigger production or profits.  Today, savvy recruiters are turning away from body counts and towards quality instead.

The New Reality:  Tell the Truth Attractively

If you have a production or retention challenge, look at your “romance quotient.”  Look at your promises.  Look at resulting backlash.  Then retool your recruiting story to tell the truth -- attractively.  Decide you won’t just hire for numbers.  Decide you don’t want a “first year” company 20 times in a row.  Build your company for the long-term.

And finally:  Quit being concerned that George down the street recruited three more people last month than you did.  If you recruited one who will stay, and George recruited three who will leave within six months, who really won?

The take-away:  Recruit for tomorrow, not just for today.