Michael Russer, a.k.a. Mr. Internet®, is CEO of Russer Communications. He is a leading speaker and author in the real estate industry and has been writing about Internet marketing and virtual outsourcing since the dawn of the commercial Internet.
Recruiting on Autopilot
A Web-based recruiting system locates the best sales associates and saves you time.
August 1, 2005
You run a real estate business and you want to fill it with great sales talent, but you don’t have time to answer every job applicant’s inquiry or interview every potential sales associate who walks through the door. Before you take time from your busy day to interview job applicants, you want to be sure that each one is serious about selling and will be a good fit with your company.
So how can you screen each applicant for the qualities you’re looking for before you decide to meet in person? It’s easier than you think.
By automating the recruiting process, technology does the heavy lifting for you. A specialized Web site spreads the word about the value of your company and what it can offer sales associates. Meanwhile, online forms screen potential applicants so you only need to interview those who appear to be a good fit with your company’s culture and goals.
Here are the steps you should take to make this happen.
Set Up a Recruiting Web Site
Finding good sales talent is just as important as finding clients to serve. It simply makes good business sense to approach the hiring process just as you would any other marketing campaign.
Your “campaign” starts with launching a Web site geared specifically toward recruiting and hiring sales associates. Effective Web sites have a clear target audience and messages that speak directly to that audience. That’s why it’s so important for your recruiting Web site to be completely separate from your business Web site, which markets your company to consumers—not salespeople.
Your recruiting Web site should be geared toward other real estate professionals and should spell out your value proposition and what you can offer salespeople in terms of career advancement. It should have the all standard Web site sections that identify you and your company, including an “About Us” page, a mission statement or vision page, a page that lists all sales associates, and information about what distinguishes your company from your competitors.
Other important elements of a recruiting Web site are:
- A unique URL. The Web site address can tie into your main business Web site but should be a free-standing URL and site. For example, if your company is called DenverRealEstate.com, you can name your recruiting Web site DenverRealEstateCareers.com or DenverRealEstateJobs.com.
- Consistency with your main business site. The masthead of the recruiting site should identify your company and incorporate design elements of your main Web site. This is important to maintain and promote your brand identity, and also to provide continuity of message.
- A clear purpose. The purpose of your recruiting Web site is to attract new licensees who are looking to start their careers in real estate and experienced sales associates who are working for other real estate companies. You can attract both types of recruits to your site as long as you have distinct channels (or sections) that address both of these target markets.
Define Your Target Markets
For the most part, new licensees and experienced sales associates don’t care how big your company is. To them, it doesn’t matter if you’re a boutique firm or a part of a large national franchise. What they want to know is: “What’s in it for me?”
Many real estate companies make the same mistake on their recruiting Web site as they do on their main business Web site: they talk too much about themselves and fail to address the needs and desires of potential recruits.
As you seek to avoid that mistake, keep in mind that the needs and desires are different for new licensees and seasoned practitioners. That’s why your recruiting Web site should have two sections, each speaking to the different needs of your two target audiences.
When targeting experienced practitioners:
- Establish the criteria you’re looking for in experienced sales associates. Let potential job candidates know you don’t accept everyone. In fact, you’re only looking for people who meet certain criteria, which can include a minimum sales volume, minimum number of transactions per year, and personal qualities that make them a good fit with company culture. To take it a step farther, ask them to fill out a online career assessment form that will help them define their goals and help your company determine if they’re the right fit. Use the form to ask open-ended questions about their strengths and weaknesses. Based on my experience, you probably don’t want to attract the top performers in your market because they will cost you the most. Instead, try to attract mid-level sales associates who are working full-time and have the potential to excel. Once they submit the form to you, your company will have an opportunity to get back to them with an assessment of their sales aptitude and start a dialogue with these potential recruits. (For more about online forms, read the March 2005 Ask Mr. Internet column.)
- Offer free courses and seminars. Experienced salespeople want to know how you can help them grow professionally. Highlight educational training and support services to show how your company will help them reach new levels of success. To get in front of potential recruits, you can offer free courses or seminars that you or someone else from your company conducts on topics such as sales and marketing, how legislative issues impact the way they do business locally, or how to more effectively use the Internet.
- Provide vision for a successful career. It’s important to speak to an experienced sales associate’s hopes and dreams. Provide a vision for what a successful sales career should be and tell them how you will help them achieve that. Many real estate professionals think that a real estate career is a roller coaster ride, with ups and downs of sales cycles. However, a truly rewarding career is one that not only helps you achieve sales success but also provides time to spend with your family and pursuing other interests in life. An effective recruiter would speak to how they can achieve this balance.
- Be accessible. Throughout your recruiting Web site, provide e-mail links and other ways for potential recruits to send inquiries or contact your office.
When targeting rookies, follow the same guidelines as outlined above, but instead of focusing on sales experience when you establish criteria, focus on personality. Offer an online form that asks open-ended questions about their work habits and goals.
To capture a new licensee’s potential for sales success, you can to use a software product called the Real Estate Simulator. Developed by Canada-based Upward Motion Inc., it's an innovative, quick, and affordable way to evaluate sales ability and identify areas for improvement.
The simulator has been tested to show that it can predict a sales associate’s likely production level. I took the test and I was blown away; it nailed my personality, and the sales proficiency part of the assessment rated me high in all areas except for closing. I’m not a hard closer, and the simulator nailed it right on the head. (For more about how this simulator works, read the February 2003 Ask Mr. Internet column.)
Save Time By Filtering
After potential job candidates fill out the online assessments, establish a set of criteria to determine who goes on to the next round for an in-person interview.
But the key to saving time is to filter the potential applications as much as possible before you get involved. Designate someone in your office or hire a virtual assistant to handle all of the inquiries and assessment forms that come in from the recruiting Web site. Train this designated person to keep the communication going between your company and the potential hire by providing the results of their assessment and encouraging them to attend training and seminar courses offered by your company.
Also train the person to recognize the stage at which the potential hire is ready to come into the office to meet with you, a broker, or a recruiting manager. In essence, the Web site and the triage system you establish becomes a filter for the serious job candidates, which save you a great deal of time in recruiting and hiring.
Build Traffic to Your New Web Site
You’re job isn’t done after you create a recruiting Web site. You then must launch a marketing campaign to let potential hires know that the site exists.
Build a list of salespeople in your market who are likely to fit your criteria. Then use a combination of mail and telemarketing to drive these people to the site. Emphasize in your marketing materials that the site offers valuable information about free training courses and provides online career assessment forms. To appeal to new licensees, place ads in the newspaper and industry publications, and provide a link on your business Web site that directs them to your recruiting site.
Recruiting highly qualified salespeople who complement your corporate culture is one of the most important jobs you have. Recruiting is your pipeline to company growth, larger market share, and competitive positioning. And like any marketing process, it’s best served by a system that automatically screens out all but the best prospects, while freeing you up to do what you do best—run your company.