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.
The Right Way to Recruit on the Web
Looking for a few good practitioners to join your company? Here’s how to find the best recruits, get them to your site, and convince them to join your brokerage.
November 1, 2007
In any market, recruiting and top sales talent is a priority for owners and managers of real estate brokerages. When the market becomes more challenging, smart recruiting is even more important to the success of your company.
The best way to grab the attention of rising stars and seasoned agents is through the Web. Whether you run a large real estate company, a boutique brokerage, or if you’re simply looking for a great assistant who could help you take your business to the next level, you need to start using the Internet to your advantage when it comes to recruiting.
Many brokerages try to use the Web to their advantage, but make fatal errors. The following are the three biggest “sins” brokerages commit when using the Web to recruit:
- Using their main consumer Web site as their recruiting platform. If you want to powerfully connect and engage seasoned practitioners, you need a Web site (or at least a special section of your main Web site) dedicated to just that. Otherwise, you’ll dilute your message to both audiences — recruits and consumers.
- Endless bragging about their real estate business. Let me say this as delicately as I can: They don’t care! Potential recruits want to know what your company can do for them. Period. This is true for recruiting online and offline, by the way. Carefully spell out the reasons your brokerage is a great place to work. That’s what recruits will really want to know.
- Generic copy. Making generic statements such as “call us for an appointment!” or asking potential recruits to fill out an online form to schedule an appointment is hardly a compelling call to action. In order for a seasoned practitioner to consider switching companies and interviewing with you, you must build trust. This requires far more sophisticated levels of safe, discretionary Web engagement.
Fortunately there is a way to address the above issues and provide a highly systematic way of generating a stream of seasoned recruits. The first critical step is to understand your potential recruits from an online perspective.
Practitioners Are Online Consumers, Too
Just like your real estate customers who are shopping for homes, your recruiting prospects enjoy the ability to “shop” for brokerages using the anonymity and convenience of the Web. Pushing them to reveal who they are or setting up an appointment before they’re ready is a big mistake that may push them away from you. Instead, provide the right kind of information that will help them reach their own conclusion that your company is their best option.
This requires a separate Web site dedicated to the recruiting process. Here are some of the critical elements of your recruiting site:
- Make it about them. Everything within your site needs to answer the question “What’s in it for me?” from the perspective of the seasoned recruit. And it needs to do so in a unique and powerful way that differentiates you from your competitors. Avoid the temptation to talk about how wonderful your company is. Instead, focus on how practitioners can have an extraordinary career that focuses on making more money, having more free time, and enjoying what they do. You can even tease them with ideas on how they can create a powerful “exit strategy” that will pay them big dividends for when they will retire. If this sounds a bit like coaching, that’s because it is. They will only care about you and company once they know you care about them. Each bit of Web coaching content can be tied to a “contact point” that steps them through the process of eventually setting up an appointment once their trust level is built up.
- Engage them, don’t “tell” them. Your recruiting site copy should be written in second person (lots of “you, your, yours”) and it should ask open-ended questions that cause recruiting prospects to think about their career in ways that they may never have considered. The use of a well-designed “Career Assessment” is ideal for this purpose. Remember, when your site “tells” them something, they will take it with a grain of salt. By asking the right questions, your site will help them reach their own conclusions that your company is a superior option. And that’s the most powerful form of persuasion.
- Have a follow-up system. When recruits request additional information from your site, put it in the form of a series of “coaching” e-mails. This is effective drip marketing where every message they receive from you will be considered highly valuable and unique to your company.
Just like online real estate consumers, your recruiting prospects need time to build trust in you and your company, and be convinced that you offer them the best option. Eventually, they are likely to contact you for an appointment. When that happens, your dedicated recruiting Web site has done its job. Then it’s time for you to meet them face to face and enter into the “sales and closing” phase of the recruiting process.
From Postcard to Web Site
Unlike targeting online consumers for your business, search engine techniques are not the most effective means of driving traffic for recruiting. That’s because very few veteran agents will use a search engine to look for career options — unless you’re in a huge market, they probably already know your company exists.
Before you do anything else, you have to determine your target market. Generate a database of names and home addresses of every agent in your market place that you feel meets your criteria and will be compatible with your company culture.
Next, create a compelling drip postcard campaign. I suggest an 18-piece campaign that is sent out to your database every three weeks (to their home, not their office!). The whole purpose of the postcard campaign is to have practitioners go to your recruiting Web site, perhaps to receive a complementary business assessment or special coaching tip.
Do It Yourself or Go Pro?
You can create your own recruiting Web site and back-end marketing and tracking systems yourself. It’s the least expensive route, but it’s a lot of work and takes an enormous amount of planning and programming to pull it off correctly. But if you have the tech skills and the Web savvy, it’s doable.
If you’d rather outsource it, you can hire a Web developer or a company that specializes in recruiting Web sites. One such company created specifically for the real estate industry is TheCyberRecruiter.com, which creates recruiting Web sites and captures leads on the back-end. (In the interest of full disclosure, I am currently working as an adviser to this company. However, it is the only company I’m aware of that offers this service for real estate brokerages.)
Now’s the Time
Uncertainty in the marketplace breeds discontent, and in today’s more challenging sales environment practitioners may be on the lookout for new career opportunities. That gives you a unique opportunity to boost your roster with new talent.
Incorporating a well-designed, Web-based recruiting system is not only right thing to do, it’s the strategically smart thing to do.