I get the following question in some shape or form just about every month from my clients who are managers … “I am trying to grow my company, but it is tough to lure top producers, and even the lower-level producers just want to hear about our commission plan. How can I start a meaningful conversation with viable candidates?”
I am going to begin answering this question by stating the obvious: You start a meaningful conversation by having something more meaningful to say. The conversation cannot be about what you want. You need to think in terms of what is important to the candidate. That is the real “value.”
Candidates are interested in two things: More income and less stress. Not having enough income is certainly one factor which produces more stress, so certainly these two issues are related. On the other hand, they are distinct in most ways, so I will treat them separately.
We will start with this important question: How are you going to increase their income? There are two ways to go about increasing their income. You can either increase their commissions or help them increase their volume. Increasing their commission is a zero sum game because every dollar of increased commission lowers your profits and your ability to help them produce more. Lower profits translate into less money and time you can devote to the goals of support. So while your plan needs to be competitive, it can't be so high that they are on their own with regard to increasing their production in a way that will be the least stressful. Thus, if your solution to the problem is just to throw dollars at it with the goal of having the most lucrative commission plan for your sales force, then you probably won’t find this article very helpful.
So we are left with the issue of increasing their production. That leads to a few other questions such as:
►How are you as a coach?
I often tell managers who are recruiting that the most important factor in the process is not the candidate’s resume, but the manager’s resume. You need to be in a position to say—if you work with me, I can show you how to produce more. This needs to be supported by your experience and independent testimony. This is where social proof comes in … including quotes from others within the industry you have helped. This issue also provides quite a dilemma because the average manager in this industry is producing and has little time for support and coaching. That means you must make the best use of your time by implementing synergistic solutions, something we will talk about in future columns. This dilemma also requires the provision of easy-to-implement support tools.
►What kind of tools?
There are three major categories of tools: Marketing, training and coaching. Some of these may involve technology—such as the provision of individual Web sites. The provision of leads may also come under the “marketing” category. Lead generation can encompass a wide range of choices, including the support of inbound telemarketing loan officers to those who sit in real estate offices, bank branches or builder sites. In-house LOs provide the best example of the relation of support to commission. Those who provide a steady stream of referrals are under less pressure to offer the most lucrative commission plans. Unfortunately, a substantial portion of managers in this industry are not in the position to offer in-house leads.
This does not mean that it is not important to provide tools that will help with lead generation. Coaching and marketing tools must be easy to administer, especially considering the aforementioned time dilemma. Even training on topics, such as sphere marketing, is very important. Of course, they also have to be affordable. If they cost hundreds of dollars per month per loan officer, the solution can increase expenses significantly. The goal here is not necessarily to pour money at a solution, but to have something unique you can talk about that will make a difference. I am interested in sharing ideas for solutions you have found that fit this description and can make some recommendations as well—just e-mail me at [email protected]
If we get enough response or questions, we will address in a future column.
The second overall goal involves reducing stress level and is just as important as increasing revenues. More production and revenue does not work if you are adding to their stress levels. Getting loans in the door and closed is stressful in this industry, especially now. As a matter of fact, if you talk to loan officers about increasing their production, many of them will be imagining more stress in their lives. Again, there are solutions that involve throwing money at the problem, such as providing top producing loan officers with personal assistants. However, this solution is not for the masses. How can you lower their stress levels without dumping money?
For one, you need to make sure that systems are in place that can minimize the causes of stress. Nothing is more stressful than an LO not understanding the systems they are supposed to operate within. Do you have an orientation or on-boarding system? Do you have a workflow system in writing which will delineate what are the loan officer’s responsibilities versus the processor’s responsibilities? Even training is important here. I have found that hammering on an LO to take a better application is a worthless exercise. On the other hand, if you can teach them how a better application process not only can lessen stress levels, but also increase their lead generation activities, then you have a winner. This is called “synergy marketing” and is an example from the title topic of one of my books, Maximum Synergy Marketing.
Here is the bottom line, if you are unable to move the conversation from “What is your compensation plan” to “How I can help you increase your revenue and lower your stress-levels?” you will have a tough road getting the attention of most quality candidates. Even more importantly, answering these questions on your end will lead to implementing solutions that will make your present sales force more productive. The more productive your sales force, the better atmosphere you will create with regard to recruiting. High-quality LOs don’t want to work in a company where they have to supply all of the positive energy. They want to contribute, but they want to the company to contribute as well. Again, I am looking for your feedback and questions regarding this and other topics. We make this a better column if you all provide positive energy!
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.