Many Recruiters will have sat through countless training presentations with Sales Trainers who provide ‘best practice’ on perfect methods of selling. A lot of these modules will include theories on selling retainers. Selling you as an individual. Selling the brand you represent. Selling a candidate.
Unless of course it’s been a while since that particular person actually sold something. Unfortunately, that’s true in a lot of cases. There’s a lot of noise in recruitment training. If you have an external Trainer, training’s their job. Not selling or recruitment.
And due to the constraints of running a business, it’s usually the case the your boss hasn’t hit the phones in years either.
Of course, that’s the rhetoric they’re possibly promoting above anything else… “Hit the phones in anger.”
Recruitment’s changed though.
Yes, you need to be on the phone. But today, recruitment isn’t just a numbers game. If you have the same sales pitch regardless of who picks up the blower you’ll sound like the purveyor of hot air.
Whilst a bit of a paradox, in recruitment, selling without selling is positioning yourself in a way that makes you a long-term partner. Not someone who transactionally enters someone’s life to leave after the ‘sale’ is over.
Whether you place contractors (and therefore continuously manage performance and happiness) or permanent candidates (and will know when every rebate period is over) the theory’s the same.
Here are some tips to elongate your business…
There are numerous ways to build a rapport with someone you want to do business with. Everything will depend on who that individual is. But that’s the key.
First off, the target should be to find out what they’re ‘in to’. For this you’ll have to ask them. Talk about their business and their career aspirations sure, but also talk about who they are outside of work.
If you’re a specialist Recruiter who works in a vertical market, it’s likely you’ll have information anyone in that niche would find interesting.
Use it as an intro.
But never under estimate the value of ‘small talk’. Small talk will always deliver nuggets of information you can use to frame a conversation and build trust.
Recruitment leaders preach about candidates becoming clients, but this also happens the other way around.
And becoming a career partner for an individual has many benefits.
Ask a lot of questions.
Ask them about anything and everything that means something to them. Is a candidate always talking about their kids? Ask about them, they’re clearly important. Is a client always mentioning their motorbike?
Knowing about a client or candidate’s life will mean you can sell back to them in a way that doesn’t feel like selling.
You’ll be able to tap into desires and solve problems they have in their life. Being able to do this is massively powerful. Especially in an industry that revolves around solving problems.
As an example, the flexible working hours of a particular contract may mean that person can see their children more.
The scenic country location of an office may mean the commute in and out makes their bike ride a dream, rather than the city based location they currently have.
If you don’t know the prior information, the latter becomes redundant. Sure you might know the best parts of a job proposition. But until you know who you’re selling to, you won’t know why it’s the best or why they’re interested.
Knowledge is hugely important if you want to be considered as the expert your purporting yourself to be.
However fresh or long in the tooth you are, industry knowledge is a key feature to pit alongside your job expertise.
There’s also no shortcut. You’ll need to read constantly, and regularly talk to your network about things happening in the industry. Going to networking events, listening to podcasts. Wherever the information is, make sure you ingest it.
Until you’re ready to be a high level expert, become a sciolist. This will mean you’re able to converse and ask open questions. The answers to which will further develop your knowledge.
This is the natural follow-on to the pointer above.
In this case, information is power. You could be sharing the fact your client is underpaying on salaries for a role. You could be warning a candidate about the pitfalls of a specific business or sector. Maybe it’s merely market information which will dramatically impact someone you know.
If you’re able to share the information without expecting anything in return, it’ll seem like a personal favour. And people are drawn to those who give out favours.
The portrayal of ‘insider information’ will do two things: Firstly, cement your place as an expert and get buy in from the audience.
Secondly, build the rapport you tried hard to establish in the first place.
A candidate or client will take a lot of pleasure in thinking they have insider information. Your relationship will be strengthened and business will be much more likely to come your way.
Specifically in terms of calling a client or candidate on the phone, the start of the conversation is pretty important. By ‘framing’ I don’t mean saying “Hi there, I’m just calling to sell you something.” Rather, have a reason for every call.
After you frame a conversation, conversation will be more aligned to where you want it to go. But also allow you to veer off course.
And this latter part is the key.
You want to become friends with your network. So, of course you’ll be keen to start chatting about anything and everything. And obviously you’ll call for a reason.
But if you have a spine of topics ready to support the interaction, and address this up front, you’ll find further chatter, where you meander off-course will now feel like catching up with an old friend, not a business contact.
It’ll also mean you’re never leaving someone wondering why the hell you’re taking up their precious time.
Everyone likes to be made to feel special.
Especially if that person’s about to make a life changing decision or spend a lot of money.
And, there are various ways you can play.
Taking their calls would be a nice first step. Sounding pleased to hear from them, and telling them so. Essentially being consultative to their ongoing battles.
Guess how much easier it is to sell to someone, when they’re exclusively using you? When they’ve already spent money and are working with you on a much deeper basis?
On the surface you can help this along by doing the small stuff, well.
Send them articles they’d find interesting. Wine and dine them. Send them things in the post.
It’s massively important to build your rapport in jobs where competition has such a similar proposition to yours. From the first call to long after the first placement – whether you’ve placed them or with them.
Many of the best relationships in recruitment transcend transactional business relationships. Candidates become long-term clients and clients become friends.
Probably all of them.
Take the steps above and you’ll never have to sell again. In reality, you’ll be selling continuously from day one. It just won’t feel like it.
And if you want some advice on talking with these people, this article’s a great place to start.
Principal Consultant - Finance at Marshall McAdam
Recruitment Consultant at Just IT Recruitment (JITR)
Senior Consultant - Drinks Sales at New Chapter Consulting
Consultant / Financial Services at Oakleaf Partnership