Are you making the same marketing calls to prospects that you’ve made for years?
When the majority of recruiters call prospects and say something like, “We will find you the best candidates,” the phrase starts to lose relevance in the client’s mind because they have heard it so many times. Put yourself in your client’s shoes; they are getting loads of calls from your peers, who are saying very similar things, and they have less time to evaluate recruiters than they had in the past.
So, the question for the smart recruiter becomes, “How can I engage this hiring authority in a conversation where they see me as a human being and a solution provider rather than just another sales person?”
Many retained firms work diligently to position themselves in the minds of their potential clients before they ever make a sales call. This is a relationship building method as opposed to a transactional sales method. It takes more time, but it builds more loyalty and profitable referrals over the long haul. Referrals are the very best marketing method that a consultant can develop, and these come only through a relationship built on trust.
Marketing Call Survey
One way to build trust with high level prospects is to ask for their participation in a survey or interview for an article that you are writing. What are the trade journals and publications that your target market reads? Contact those publications and tell them that you are thinking of writing an article on a topic of interest (current hiring trends, management’s perceptions of recruiters, the best interview questions, how to spot a liar, etc.) and ask if they would be interested.
Most will say yes as you are an expert in your specialty area, and they are usually eager to get outside material. If you cannot get a response from your industry publications, try writing for a recruiting publication (such as ERE.net or TLNT.com) on a topic such as “What our clients really think of us.” Between print, online publications, newsletters, associations and e-zines, finding a place to accept your article should not be difficult.
Case in point; the article you are reading right now came into your hands through the exact process that I just outlined. I also did the exact same thing in my recruiting niche (legal administration) by following the same steps. When I first contacted the legal journals in my market I had no idea if they would be open to what I had to say. To my surprise, they were, and I had my first article published shortly after my first contact with them.
Once you have decided on a venue for your article, you then want to construct a brief presentation and questions for your target contacts. Your contacts should be high level hiring authorities that you want to do business with. The call needs to be sincere in that you actually are doing research for an article, but at the same time, you are also engaging in a business conversation (rather than a sales conversation) with somebody you want to build a relationship with.
The Initial Call
Start the conversation by introducing yourself and saying something like this:
“I’m not calling to do business with you but rather to see if you would be able to share some knowledge about ____ for an article that I am writing. We would probably need about 10 minutes.”
This way you take the pressure off of him (and you) and also set an expectation for how long it will take. You can ask if he is available now or if he would prefer to schedule for another time.
At this point, many hiring authorities would ask, “Who are you writing the article for and when does it come out?” It is important that you have done your homework and can answer this question. Once you have permission to go ahead with the call, you are then able to demonstrate your professionalism to this potential client in a non-threatening conversation.
The best selling usually takes place by asking excellent questions. You are judged by the quality of your questions. If you ask an intelligent question you are perceived to be intelligent, if you ask a mediocre question you are seen as mediocre.
Be sure to stay within the time frame, or if you are going to run over, to acknowledge it and ask if he has time to continue. This subtly demonstrates that you can be trusted to deliver on what you promise.
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Modify this and use it with your prospective client:
The reason for my call today is that I’m going to be writing an article for______ on ________ and I’m conducting a brief survey with a select group of people who I thought may be able to shed some light on the subject. If you could grant me about 10 minutes of your focus to answer a couple of questions it would be very helpful. What are your thoughts?
- What methods do you typically use to locate exceptional staff?
- What have been your toughest challenges with either finding or retaining employees?
- What % of your searches do you use retained vs. contingent?
- How would you describe your level of satisfaction with each?
- How has the current economic climate affected your business?
- What innovative ways have you found to reward your staff or inspire greater loyalty?
- How do you define excellence in your team’s performance?
When you finish the interview, be sure to thank your contact, and engage in any business-related discussion that he seems receptive to. Offer to be a resource by stating something like the following:
“Feel free to call if you need to keep a pulse on what the market looks like for certain skill sets or if you would like us to conduct salary comparisons for your current staff. I provide this for my clients at no charge and would be happy to do this for you as well. I will contact you when the article comes out and will get a copy to you.”
This builds rapport and trust and opens the door for future conversations.
The Follow-up Call
You now have the perfect follow-up method, which is to contact him when the article comes out and to send him a copy. You may even quote him in the article if it makes sense (people LOVE this). Premeditated follow-up is the most important part of this method.
During the follow-up call you can move toward more of a sales conversation by asking, “What criteria do you use when selecting a search partner?” But only if it makes sense within the context of your dialogue.
Send the prospect other articles you come across that may be of interest to him, and stay in touch regularly. There are many other backdoor methods you can use besides a survey; the point is to give yourself as many options as possible to position yourself well in the mind of your potential client. When there is an opening, you want to be seen as a trusted ally that he will call on first to offer an exclusive contract.