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.
Now of course, fees are just one of the objections that I deal with in my Recruitment Sales Training sessions, but they are a major concern, so let’s look at this first!
Those recruiters and recruitment company owners 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!
If you want some help yourself, or you want help getting your team to be more ‘Stand Out’ than Standard, and getting past stubborn fee objections (or any other Recruitment Sales Training needs), call +44 (0) 161 401 0142 or contact Andy here……..
In this article, leading Recruitment Sales Training Expert Andy Preston looks at 5 common mistakes most Recruiters make, when it comes to cold calling prospects/clients in particular…….
We already know that being (or getting to be) a top performer in Recruitment isn’t easy. There is usually hard work, long days and plenty of low points (as well of high points) along the way – candidates not turning up for interviews, clients not giving feedback, candidates getting counter-offers and many things like that.
And one of the hardest parts of the job? Cold Calling.
The art of winning new business and new clients over the phone is one of the toughest parts of any sales job, but especially in recruitment. We’re calling people that already have an existing agency they use, have a PSL, or refuse to use agencies at all!
And yet it’s our job to convince them to use us, and to let us find someone on their behalf. And they have to pay a not-insignificant fee for that privilege.
We know we’re going to face objections, rejection and probably ‘stubborn refusal’ from the majority of people that we’re going to be calling. So how do we ensure we get the best results possible, start to fill our pipeline full of vacancies and generate sustainable revenue going forward?
Let’s start by making sure we’re avoiding these 5 common Recruitment cold call mistakes…..
A common mistake that most Recruiters often make, is that they fail to prepare for their sales calls properly. This can range from not having the right details for prospects, or sometimes not even having a list of people they want to call prepared BEFORE the day (or the calling session) starts!
I can guarantee you that a lack of preparation will almost ALWAYS show up in your calls somewhere. Whether it’s an objection that you weren’t prepared for (and therefore don’t handle that well), a question a prospect asks you that you can’t answer or getting caught out because you don’t know a key piece of information, it WILL catch up with you!
Make sure you are prepared and ready BEFORE your calling sessions! You ARE running calling sessions properly, aren’t you?
This is a mistake I see many salespeople (not just Recruiters) make. They fail to separate existing customers and prospects in their mind. Not just into separate calls lists that they should call at separate times (although they need to do that too!). They fail to separate the two types of calls in their approach.
So what do I mean by that? I mean that they call prospects as if they were existing customers. They don’t mentally separate between the two. Which means they’re often caught off-guard and unprepared for the sort of reactions and objections they can face from ‘new business’ prospect calls.
This also appears in their questioning. In other words, they ask prospects the same questions they would ask their existing customers. This makes no sense. Especially when you consider they don’t have the same level of rapport with them, same level of business relationship with them, and definitely not the same history as them! Definitely a bad idea.
This is a major problem I often see in a competitive sales environment, and especially Recruitment! Failure to differentiate from your competition in a very competitive market is sales suicide!
Differentiation MUST start early in the process, for the decision maker to even have a chance of seeing you as different at the end of it! And these days, differentiation is very difficult to do based on your product or service, or even your company name and reputation. Therefore differentiation is down to the salesperson, or consultant in the case of recruitment.
In order to be perceived as different, you need to behave differently. You need to say different things to competitors, do different things to competitors and behave differently to competitors, all as early in the sales process as possible!
You can’t say, act, and behave like the competition, then complain when decision makers don’t see you as different from them! Start to differentiate, now!
Let’s face it – if you’re going to cold call, you’re going to get rejection. However the majority of consultants making business-to-business phone calls aren’t resilient enough.
As an example, think about how many times that you (or a member of your team) haven’t handled an objection well enough? Think about how many times someone you know has got up to make a drink, started reading their emails or called an existing customer when they were meant to be cold calling?
You have to have a certainly amount of resilience to be in recruitment to cope with the ‘knockbacks’. It’s even more important in cold calling, where you’re going to get more rejection than ever!
Do you or your team fall over at the first objection? At the first bad call? Or are you resilient enough to carry on and get results from your calls?
Okay, so the 4 mistakes above were important, and this one is probably THE most important of all. The majority of Recruiters fail to get enough commitment from their clients, and this is very much the case when they’re cold calling as well.
The problem is, most of the commitment falls on the Recruiter’s side. Ever committed to sending some information? In that case the commitment probably was more on YOUR side than theirs. Who committed to sending the information? You did! Did they even commit to reading it? By a specific time? If not, the commitment was probably all yours! Can you see how this happens?
The more commitment you can gain from a client, the more likely the ‘next steps’ you have proposed will happen. Fail to gain commitment and be prepared for the client to ‘forget’ you next time you call, not do what you asked, or fall into an endless loop of call-backs where they keep saying ‘I haven’t had time to look at the information you sent yet’. Sound familiar?
If you want some help getting your team to get far better results from their cold calling and prospecting efforts, call +44 (0) 161 401 0142 or contact Andy here……..
It was definitely a little colder than being in Dublin and London earlier in the week, but warmer than it had been a week or so earlier, when it got down to -20!
It’s always interesting to see how the market is performing in Warsaw. I find it’s a ‘busy’ city, where there is plenty of focus on business activity, and some good energy about the city in general.
The recruitment clients I met with on this trip, I first was introduced to (and re-introduced to) in Warsaw when I was speaking at the Association of Employment Agencies (SAZ) conference a couple of years ago.
I was the keynote speaker on my specialist recruitment keynote ‘The New Rules of Recruitment Selling’ (the standard version is ‘Nowe Zasady Sprzedazy’) back in 2015, where I talk about how Recruiters need to adapt to close more business in the future.
From that speech, I had a number of companies approach me and ask if I could speak at their company conference, or train their teams in ‘The New Rules of Recruitment Selling‘.
I realised then that the problem that Polish Recruiters were having, weren’t that different to my other recruitment clients in other countries around the globe.
I do a large amount of work in Recruitment, and have specific versions of my ‘Stand Out Selling’ System and other programmes.
To find out more about my Sales Training For Recruiters – go here
So what did I talk to these Warsaw Recruitment Companies about?
1. You can’t STAND OUT from your competition, when you make your business development calls EXACTLY the same way as they do!
This is typical in Recruitment (as well as many other industries), where most of the ‘salespeople’ (in this case, consultants) get their training from similar sources (managers, leaders, standard recruitment industry trainers etc), that all the business development calls made by everyone sound the same!
This is obviously a major problem, if you’re trying to persuade the prospect that you are different! You can say ‘we are different!’ all you like, but if your BEHAVIOUR isn’t different, it’s highly likely the prospect won’t believe you – not a great start to a prospective business relationship!
2. In a commoditised market, the ‘difference’ is the individual salesperson. That’s one of my favourite sayings, and it’s even true in recruitment, where traditionally the focus has been on the candidate(/s) submitted.
If you can get the prospect to choose to work with you. To select you over other firms and other recruiters EVEN when you don’t have the best candidate? That’s a sign of a good salesperson.
3. Prioritising phone calls. There is a definite ‘trend’ right now of salespeople ‘defaulting’ to contact via email rather than using the phone.
That causes it’s own problems, as naturally it affects the ‘persuasiveness’ of the salesperson and their ability to turn the situation to their advantage. Their influence on the situation is also negatively affected.
So I’m looking forward to going back to Warsaw in a couple of months and helping these companies with those (and some other) sales challenges!
Of course not! I had time to walk around the park in the snow, and see the Palace of Culture and Science (Pałac Kultury i Nauki) as well as spend a bit of time in the old town. I’ve done plenty of trips to Warsaw now, and I look forward to coming back again in a couple of months time!
Here are a few pictures – enjoy!
In this article, leading Recruitment Sales Expert Andy Preston explains what sales lessons you should have learnt from 2009…. and what you need to do differently to be more successful in 2010…..
2009 was an interesting year for many consultants and recruitment companies I’ve been speaking with recently. Whilst some had a successful year, many others were grateful for making the sales they did, and some were grateful to make it through the year at all!
2009 had some interesting lessons in terms of sales and sales tactics, things we should all learn from whether we’re a resource, consultant, manager or director.
Follow the tips below and watch your sales soar in 2010!…..
Sales Lesson Number One – Prospect Continuously
If 2009 taught you nothing else, it taught you that you can’t always rely on your existing customers to hit your targets! 2009 was the year that existing customers were looking for ways to cut costs in their businesses – and I think it’s fair to say recruitment was one of the first costs to be looked at.
Prospecting should be done on a continuous basis, not just when you’re quiet!
Sales Lesson Number Two – Control The Sales Cycle
2009 highlighted the need for the recruiter to control the sales process more than ever before! It was the year where customers started asking for candidates, but then didn’t seem to proceed with the hiring decision anywhere near as fast!
In a lot of cases, prospects were trying to get a ‘feel’ for who was available and what it would cost, before trying to get approval for the spend, which often wasn’t forthcoming! So the recruiter does lots of ‘running around’ for very little reward!
Sales Lesson Number Three – Know More About The Competition
Again, 2009 showed us that we have to be sharper in this arena. Many recruitment companies were finding increased competition when trying to sell their services, and often this was happening in existing accounts as well!
If you truly want to be able to sell against your competition, you’d better know them – inside and out.
You want to know about their marketing and promotion, their sales campaigns, their offering, where they’re strong (and weak), and how you can sell against them effectively. That is, if you want to be more successful this year than last….?
Sales Lesson Number Four – Write A Sales Plan
I’m often amazed how few people have a proper sales plan in place! I mean a specific document, written down, with a focused plan of how the individual, team or business is going to win business for the forthcoming year.
Without a proper sales plan in place, most people will miss opportunities that they could have converted, and miss other opportunities they weren’t even aware of.
Not the best thing to happen in a tough market, so start your year off well and get a written sales plan in place, right now!
Sales Lesson Number Five – Examine Your ‘Selling Level’
2009 was the year that purchasing and ‘sign-off’ responsibility shifted somewhat. Managers or Department Heads that were previously able to sign-off quite large sums of money were ‘reigned in’ somewhat, and Directors and Owners started taking more interest in exactly where the company’s money was being spent.
This means that all the recruiters that were selling at ‘user’ or ‘hiring manager’ level found that decisions were going ‘above’ – and that they weren’t coming back as positively or as quickly as previously might have happened!
Sales Lesson Number Six – Ask Better Questions
If you or your team are still asking mainly ‘fact-find’ questions of prospects you’re speaking to, then you’ll probably be one of the first to be left behind in 2010!
If your prospects and clients are considering you as a potential supplier for 2010, do you really think questions like ‘have you got any vacancies at the moment?’, ‘when are you next recruiting?’ and ‘what fees do you normally pay’ are really going to help you build your business or your desk in 2010?
Your questioning ability can be one of the biggest things that differentiates you from your competition. How does yours (or your team’s) currently measure up?
Sales Lesson Number Seven – Re-Establish Contact
As businesses have ‘re-engineered’ themselves and their business offering over the last few months, for some companies that’s meant re-shuffling their staff and their responsibilities. This is worth looking at closely from a sales point of view however, as we want to make sure you aren’t losing any opportunities through any re-structuring or re-organisation.
Think about some companies that you (or your team) have placed people at in the past. Are you completely ‘on top’ of those companies? Even the ones that haven’t been hiring for ages? Do you know every contact in the account that’s involved in hiring? Do they all know you and would call you first when they need someone?
Many recruiters are in for a shock this year if they only have one or two contact s in an organisation. If those contacts have left or changed responsibilities, they could find themselves having to start again with new contacts. Not the best start to 2010, is it?
Sales Lesson Number Eight – Work On Your Sales Skills
2009 taught us that many of the basic sales skills that are needed for success in a recruitment role had been ‘taken for granted’ – yet were lacking in a large number of the companies and the salespeople I spoke to! Particularly in the cold calling/new business arena.
Last year was the year where sales skills mattered far more than in years previous. Prospects were taking longer to make decisions, higher level decision makers were getting involved, ROI needed to be proven at every stage, more competitors were involved in every sale and prospects were looking to negotiate all your profit out of every deal!
What are you doing to make sure that doesn’t happen to you in 2010?
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