Loan Agent Recruiting 101: I Want You But I Don't Need You

Loan Agent Recruiting 101: I Want You But I Don't Need You

August 14, 2011

I had a recruiting lunch today with a big-bank veteran loan agent I heard two weeks ago was in play. I also heard he was far along in his decision process so I didn't call him. Then he called me yesterday, we talked for an hour, and had lunch today. He's still going to the other firm he'd been talking to for weeks.
The lesson: recruiting isn't a sometimes thing, it's an all the time thing. Just like Lombardi said about winning. If you let up, you lose.
More on that lesson in a minute. First, I'd like to share share a related recruiting lesson we discussed at our semiannual branch manager summit last week:
I want you but I don't need you.
This is the mindset you must have when selling to salespeople. The good ones that you want most can smell desperation a mile away so you need to make it clear that you want them, make sure they understand what you and your firm bring to the table, then back away.
It's like this under-radar movie from 2000, The Tao of Steve, about a fat, lazy, broke guy who can still score any beautiful woman he wants because of his ancient Zen-like secret: be desire-less, be excellent in her presence, be gone.
Same goes if you're trying to score top producing loan agents. They will bail out on you if you're advancing too aggressively. Even if you've got the whole package: best pay and benefits, best pricing, full conforming and jumbo product set, processors with 15 years experience, dedicated underwriter, dividends on service-retained bank loans, agent's picture/info on borrower's monthly mortgage statements, in-house Realtor relationship, free automated email marketing, free MBS data, city view private office, and on and on.
So you have to present all this excellence--and explain your comp model without stuttering once!--then be gone. Which brings us back to lesson one and the agent who got away from me at (or actually before) lunch today.
According to the "all the time" component of lesson one, he didn't get away. I just didn't get him now because I didn't sell when selling was needed most.
The good news is that lesson two was fresh in my mind when we had lunch. I was clear that I didn't need him on my team. I just knew I wanted him, and it's a long term game.
The end result is that we've now got a dialogue. And if I may get un-Zen-like and more brazenly competitive for a second: the over-promises made by the other firm will soon be apparent, and I'll have my chance to re-apply lessons one and two.
But for now, lesson one learned: when I hear someone's in play, I move immediately despite any other intel that would cause hesitation.
Anyone have other good recruiting stories and lessons?
Julian Hebron is San Francisco branch manager and top producer for RPM Mortgage and also runs popular mortgage and housing blog The Basis Point.