Keeping The Door Open ? Bridging Your Calls

Account development is a process and not an event. That process generally involves a series of contacts with a prospect leading to an opportunity for demonstrating the value of your services through the generation of activity on one or more of the prospect’s staff openings. If you are able to successfully fill the openings with consistency and quality, a client relationship should evolve and account development will begin to take place.Although it would be unrealistic to expect a new order as a result of every cold marketing call, at a minimum, if you are able to engage your prospect in a two-way conversation, you should determine answers to the following:

  1. Is this prospect worth a follow-up call based on the realistic potential for doing business?
  2. What should be the timing of the follow-up call?
  3. From your prospect’s perspective, what legitimate purpose should you have for making the follow-up call?

The third question is many times the most difficult to answer for recruiters and sales consultants. Unless a specific buying signal is given, or the prospect provides a timeline for follow-up, the individual making the marketing call generally closes it by saying something similar to the following:

“Would it be O.K. if I checked back with you in a couple of weeks (months) and see how things look at that time?”

Safe question but not one that is likely to provide your prospect with a memorable bridge for the follow-up call. Nevertheless, based on my review of thousands of cold marketing calls made by hundreds of staffing professionals, this type of closing question tends to be the rule rather than the exception.In the absence of a natural bridge, one that flows directly from the discussion with the prospect; such as an expected expansion, possible turnover, or a timetable for change, you may want to build a bridge based on the strength of your position in the staffing industry.

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You are in a relationship business and much of your success depends on how well you leverage those relationships for the benefit of all concerned.If you have been in this business for more than a year, particularly if you work within a specialty market niche, you have already developed relationships with hundreds of individuals. Keeping this in mind and in lieu of a natural bridge that might flow from the substance of your discussion, you may wish to close your prospecting call in a manner similar to the following.

“Mr./Ms Prospect, as we discussed earlier, my area of specialization is …. Over the course of time and working within my carefully cross-referenced network of contacts, I am in-touch with virtually hundreds of professionals within this field. Keeping this in mind, is there any type of background, experience or skill set, that if I were to encounter it in an individual, you would want me to contact you and at least alert you to their availability thereby giving you the right of first refusal?”

A manager’s success is directly tied to the performance of the people they supervise. When they have an open position or worse yet, when they have an under-performer on their staff, the circumstances can compromise the manager’s ability to reach their individual performance objectives. Nevertheless, the process they must follow to rectify the situation, is dreaded by most managers. Hiring and firing employees includes a certain degree of risk, most important of which may be the risk of making matters worse by firing an employee and not being able to find an adequate replacement.Consider for a moment the heightened sense of confidence a manager would have if they terminated an employee, or had a vital opening, and knew through your on-going bridging technique and follow-up presentations that you could provide them with almost immediate relief. Knowing they have an effective, professional recruiter continuously on the look out for mission critical talent, serves as an insurance policy for the decisions they make regarding their human capital assets.This is more than a theory. It is a reality for many recruiters who properly utilize this bridging technique. However, as with all of your work, it totally depends on your ability and willingness to deliver appropriate results. It has to be more than words. The success of this approach rests in your actions subsequent to and during your follow-up calls.In tracking results from practitioners who consistently use this approach, it has been demonstrated that in approximately 20% to 35% of the instances where this close is used, the prospect does, in fact, identify a profile. Furthermore, in more than 30% of these cases where the prospect identifies a specific profile, the discussion leads directly to an order/search assignment. However, even when the close does not result in an order, it builds a perfect bridge to your next call.Be selective in using this bridging technique. It should only be used in those situations where you have had a genuine two-way discussion with the prospect. However, it can also be effectively utilized even when a natural bridge is identified during the call. In those situations, it will serve to further strengthen your positioning with the prospect.Not only does this approach help you build a bridge for your next call to that prospect, but over a period of time and calls, it tends to solidify in your prospect’s mind a link between you and the type of talent most needed by their organization. The benefits of this link will become obvious the next time they have a need for an individual that matches that profile. The thought has to, at least, cross their mind that one phone call to you could solve their problem. This is the result of the cumulative impressions created by a series of well prepared and delivered presentations of individuals who meet the specific profile provided by the prospect.There are many ways to close a marketing call and a variety of approaches that can be used to build a bridge to the next call. However, considering the nature of our business, the above example may present the best opportunity to leverage your resources while positioning yourself as a valued asset in the competitive arena of Human Capital Management.If you have questions or comments on the subject of how to bridge your calls, please let me know. Your contacts are always welcome.

Recipient of the Harold B. Nelson Award, Terry Petra is one of our industry's leading trainers and consultants. He has successfully conducted in-house programs for hundreds of search, placement, temporary staffing firms and industry groups across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, England, and South Africa. To learn more about his training products and services, including PETRA ON CALL, and BUSINESS VALUATION, visit www.tpetra.com. Terry can be reached at (651) 738-8561 or click to email him.

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