No is Good!

Every day I receive calls from practitioners who want to know how to increase their billings, close a greater percentage of their business, or move toward building exclusive client relationships.

The most recent example was a call I received from an experienced recruiter with over nine years in this business. He’s averaging $175,000 per year in billings and has a job order to placement ratio of 6 to 1. This, by the way, is a fairly representative ratio for many contingency recruiters.

Of his annual placements, eight out of ten met the criteria of an “A” level search (See TFL – 10/01 – “Eight Is Enough”), while the other two, along with the 50 searches he did not fill, were primarily “C” level. However, he admitted investing the vast majority of his time on trying to fill the “C” level searches because they were more plentiful and easier to attain (See TFL – 05/99 – “Beware Of The Low Hanging Fruit”). This prompted me to ask the question:

“How many additional “A” level searches could you write if you weren’t wasting over 75% of your time trying to fill your “C” level activity?”

By his conservative estimate, he said, “Twice as many.” Then, by doing the math, he deduced that he could almost double his annual billings simply by concentrating his efforts on securing and filling primarily “A” level orders. He also realized this could be accomplished with less time and overall effort than he was currently investing on a daily basis.

However, in order to accomplish this, he had to learn to say “NO” – “NO” to clients who wanted him to work on low odds business that ultimately would waste his time.

Although I have written many times on this subject which also is an important component in my training programs, some practitioners are still having a difficult time learning how to say “NO” (See TFL – 03/04 – “Where Less Is More”). To them I say,

“No is good when it allows you to concentrate your efforts on securing and filling more high priority business.”

However, understanding how to say “NO” is important because it can help set the stage for the development of future business with the prospect or client. Therefore, listed below are examples that should serve as a primer for your own creative thoughts on wording. Some of the examples reference exclusive relationships. Nevertheless, the principles underlying each example may be relevant in almost any situation.

Example One

“Based on what we have just discussed, I believe it would be in our mutual best interest not to work together at this time.”

Example Two

“Under these circumstances, it would be nearly impossible for me to be effective on your behalf.? You would be disappointed as I would be.? Therefore, I recommend you consider other options for filling this position.”

Example Three

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“Put yourself in my position for a moment and consider the amount of time, energy and resources required to successfully complete a search of this nature.? If our roles were reversed, would you be willing to commit those resources under anything other than an exclusive relationship?”

Example Four

“Why would we agree to work in a non-exclusive process that by its very design compromises the likelihood of achieving a positive outcome?? That doesn’t make sense for either or us.? Wouldn’t you agree?”

Example Five

“Our clients have received the greatest value through our services when we utilize on their behalf, in an unencumbered manner, the full capacity of our available resources.? Since you’re already using a variety of approaches, it would not be fair to engage our services because, at best, all we could offer would be a carefully measured response.? That would not be in your best interest nor would it be in ours.? Does that explanation help you better understand why we should not work together at this time?”

Example Six

“If I were to accept this search under any circumstances other than an exclusive relationship, I would not be able to give you a full commitment of my time and resources.? Exclusivity allows us to mirror our commitment to one another in pursuing the objective of filling this position.? To work under any other circumstances would not be fair to you and would compromise my ability to produce the desired results. Consequently, I must decline the opportunity to work with you at this time.? If in the future you wish to reconsider the benefits of working on an exclusive basis, please give me a call.”

Remember, these are merely examples. Understanding when to say “NO” depends on your criteria for doing business. The actual manner in which you present the “NO” should reflect your personal style as well as the ultimate objective you have with each particular prospect or client. Accomplished in this manner, “NO is Good” because it allows you to focus your resources where they have the greatest likelihood of producing results.

As always, if you have comments or questions, just let me know.? Your calls and emails are most 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 Terry can be reached at (651) 738-8561 or click to email him.


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