This was one of the key points in my speech, last time I spoke at the Federation of African Professional Staffing Organisations (APSO) Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. Many recruiters and recruitment company owners come to me for help, complaining that they can’t get high enough fees or rates, for potential placements they are working on.
They tell me ‘the market has got tougher’. They tell me ‘competitors are desperate to win business’. They tell me ‘clients won’t pay the fees they used to’.
I tell them in return ‘you don’t have a fee problem, you have a differentiation problem’. Let me explain a little more…..
Quite simply on 2 factors. Relationship, and Price. Which in effect are – the vendor that they know/like/trust the most, and the vendor that will give them the best ‘deal’.
Think for a moment…. If you’re a hiring manager (or in HR), and all the recruitment companies and all their candidates appear very similar, how will you choose who you go with? Probably the agency you know/like/trust the most and the one that gives you the best ‘deal’ on fees or rates!
Therefore the problem occurs earlier in the sales process. And it’s caused by your failure to differentiate! Because if the prospect didn’t see you (or your candidate) as different, it forced them to decide on Relationship and Price as mentioned above!
Most of the differentiation problems are caused early in the sales process, and often by the recruiter themselves! A typical example of this is when the recruiter falls into what I call the ‘3 Question Trap’.
The Trap is when you ask the same three questions that most of your competitors do. And you probably ask them early in the call (like your competitors do), so the impression on the hiring manager or HR person is ‘ahhh, you guys are all the same!’ – which immediately puts their buying (or non-buying) decision down to Relationship and Price as mentioned above!
That’s YOUR fault, because it’s your behaviour that caused them to think like that!
Here are some examples….
‘Have you got any vacancies/are you recruiting at the moment?’
‘When are you next recruiting?’
‘What fees do you pay your current agency?
How many recruiters ask these questions? Most of them! Therefore when you ask them, the impression on the hiring manager or HR person is ‘you guys are all the same!’
This is a common problem, and one of the reasons I wrote my ‘Stand Out Selling’ sales methodology (and adapted a specific version just for recruiters – which I also talked about at the conference), helping you to stand out from your competitors, win more business, and do so at higher fees! That’s something I go into more in my training sessions, but here are a few ideas that will help you for now….
So, if you’re going to try and Stand Out from your competition, what sort of things can you do?…..
Firstly, make sure your calls don’t all sound the same as your competitors do! That they don’t start in the same way. That they don’t sound the same (because believe me, most recruiter calls do). That they don’t give the impression you’re exactly the same as every other recruiter that rings up! Otherwise you’re going to struggle…..
If you want to win a ‘customer’ rather than a ‘transaction’, stop selling in candidates! You might win this time, but next time the client may well choose a better candidate from your competitor! Not good for building long-term business!
This obviously means making a change if all you’ve been trained to do is ‘market out’ candidates in the past. But well worth incorporating some Stand Out calls into your prospecting activity!
If you’re really interested in a long-term relationship with that person and their company, start talking to them before they have a vacancy – because at ‘vacancy’ stage they probably have a preferred agency they want to use – and it probably isn’t you!
Stop falling into the same 3 Question Trap all your competitors do, and use some better questions on your sales calls! Come on, you don’t really want people to think you’re the same as all the rest, do you?
Most recruiters will work any vacancy they come across…. Without any real thought as to their chances of filling it – which means they stop doing new business! Make sure you and your team don’t fall into that trap!
Implement the tips above, and watch the impact on your sales figures – I look forward to hearing about your results!
This article is copyright Andy Preston 2004-2017. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article, or to use Andy’s ideas, tactics and IP in your company, contact Andy Preston for guidelines.