Sales management is one of the most difficult jobs within the mortgage industry. Most sales managers are personal producers and produce at a level which constituted a full-time job before they became managers. After 50 percent of their time or more is taken by their personal caseload, how much time is left to dedicate to great management skills? Unfortunately, the majority of the rest of a sales manager’s time is quickly absorbed by fighting fires. It is said that 80 percent of a manager’s supervisory time utilized by 20 percent of the poorest performers. This leaves precious time for a manager’s most important task—recruitment. Why is recruitment a manager’s most important task? A manager can possess the best management skills in the world, but if that manager hires the wrong people, their life is going to be a supervisory nightmare. The most significant rule of great leadership is to hire the right people. Most managers cannot hire the right people because they do not have the time to dedicate to a great recruitment plan. This is because they are spending their time trying to fix the wrong people. Sound like a vicious cycle? You bet it is! The question remains: How do we break out of this vicious cycle? We could to outline a recruitment plan that would absorb 10 hours of a manager’s time each week. The actions would look great on paper. In reality, there would be no implementation of such a plan. Our sales managers do not have an extra 10 hours per week to expend, no matter how much time and stress it will save them in the long run. The only solution is to find synergies between the manager’s present activities and our recruitment objectives. We have already identified what activities occupy the greatest portion of a manager’s working day: Personal production and supervision of present employees. We must identify actions which will help us meet recruitment objectives and increase personal production. We must also identify actions which will help us increase our supervisory capacity and help us meet recruitment objectives. To illustrate this point, let us take a few examples: Most sales managers hold periodic sales meetings Far too many managers complain that these meetings degenerate into complaint sessions such as: Why are our rates too high or why does processing take so long? Consequently, many originators complain that these meetings do not help further their sales objectives because we are spending too much time focusing on problems and products. How much time in the meeting does the manager spend focusing on the company’s most important objectives—increasing production and attracting top notch sales and operations personnel? Is each originator asked to help recruit every meeting and enticed with incentives? When your sales force becomes part of your recruitment plan, they are also enticed to start focusing on the positives within their environment. This strategy also helps solidify their own support and loyalty to the company. Why recruit alone when you could have a recruitment team of several members working in concert to meet your objectives? Finally, this strategy can also help you achieve additional objectives. An incentive plan may also be combined with a mentorship program to enable your originators to facilitate the transition of new originators, especially those with limited experience. This relieves additional time pressure from the manager and helps their loan officers obtain experience in basic management skills which may prepare them for another step in their career. It is our responsibility as leaders to further the careers of those we lead. I will cover more regarding mentorship in a future column. One of the major goals of producers is to learn about their competition Your objectives for interviewing targets should always include several questions regarding whom they are presently using, whom their peers use, what level of service they receive and more. What better way to benchmark potential recruits than through in-depth interviews with your targets. If their report is glowing: You have a potential recruitment target. If their report is not so glowing, you have a great opportunity to obtain more business. Ask the target to set up a meeting with you and their favorite originator, just to network. You will be surprised at how you might benefit. Many producers report that the majority of their production comes from loan officer sources, rather than real estate agents or builders. Of course, not everyone can handle every deal. Talk about real synergy! Take a look at your pipeline Within every loan is a sphere. This sphere can lead to more business and opportunities for recruitment. It is a matter of opening your eyes wider to opportunities which are in front of you. The CPA preparing tax returns for your client, do they know a loan officer? If they don’t, you have an important referral prospect. If they do, well you get the picture … These examples sufficiently illustrate how we can link the two most time consuming elements of a manager’s day with the number one objective—recruitment. Of course, before we go about implementing these solutions, we must have a clear idea of our recruitment objectives. All too often, we blindly recruit anyone who is available and wind up adding bodies instead of upgrading our staff. When we open our eyes to take full advantage of the concept of synergy, there will be no end to the possibilities. Any action which helps us meet more than one objective will decrease our stress levels because they help us conserve our most precious resource—which is time. Any upgrading of our staff will also help decrease our stress levels. More productivity and less stress? You bet! Dave Hershman is a top author in the mortgage industry with seven books published, as well as hundreds of articles. Dave has delivered hundreds of keynote speeches, seminars and schools for the industry as well. He may be reached by e-mail at [email protected] or visit OriginationPro.com.