For most of my recruiting life, client meetings have been vital.
They are where you win business, earn trust, uncover needs, and build rapport.
COVID-19 disrupted this dynamic, but it remains true that it is in a face-to-face meeting that the magic happens. This is where your credibility is established, and the business is won or lost. Here, a recruiter can win exclusivity, secure multiple temp orders, and resolve pricing and service dilemmas.
Right now, intelligent recruiters are starting to engage with clients face-to-face again. If they can do it skilfully, they will thrive. How all this plays out remains to be seen, but winning business will most definitely be a perennial recruiter requirement, whether face-to-face or via videoconference.
And never more so than right now.
I am fully aware that it is sometimes harder to secure meetings than before. But giving up and creating a self-fulfilling prophesy is a loser strategy. You can create good reasons to meet.
Yet, too often, the visit or meeting is a wasted opportunity at best and an unmitigated disaster at worst.
There are many reasons a client meeting can go belly-up; some may not even be the recruiter’s fault. But, too often, one or all of the following reasons make a client meeting (face-to-face or digital) a wasted opportunity.
Wrong target market
Firstly, make sure the meeting is worth having at all! Yes, that’s right. Random untargeted meetings do not help. Is the potential client in your target market? Do they use recruiters? Are they a long-term prospect with ongoing hiring needs? Do you see the decision-maker? Do candidates want to work there? A visit for its own sake is a sad waste of time. Think before you meet. Remember, the formula for recruiting success includes the right ‘target market’ as a fundamental requirement.
Lack of preparation
You have a tremendous opportunity to see a significant client’s CEO or marketing director. It’s your one big shot. So much hinges on it. It has taken months to secure the meeting. And what do you do to prepare? Nothing! This is so common and avoidable that it almost tears me.
You must do everything possible to give yourself an edge in that meeting. Yes, do the standard research on the company and its products. But also, google the person you are meeting. Find out their history. If they have given an online presentation, read it. Press releases are to be studied. Check out their LinkedIn profile.
But you need to do more, too. Who are this company’s clients? Who are their competitors? How are their trading results?
I once saw a prominent communications group CEO for a cold sales meeting. I googled him and found a YouTube video of him being interviewed in the week he started in the role. He explained his vision and his plans. How much do you think that helped me in framing my questions and my comments during the meeting? After that, we got on like a house on fire. He thought my observations very astute!
Your planning needs to be micro, too. How long will it take you to get to the client site? Trivial, you think? Not at all. A client meeting is stressful enough without arriving 20 minutes late. Why put the client offside before you have even met them?
Check your database, too. Has your company worked with the client before? Was the client contact a candidate of yours once?
Knowledge is power. Get the knowledge!
That’s right, give yourself a sharp uppercut before the meeting starts. Don’t be subservient. Don’t be apologetic. Yes, your client is a senior executive expert in his field – but you are a professional recruiter who is an expert in yours! Act like an expert: not arrogant, but confident. The client relationship is peer-to-peer. It is a partnership, not a slave-and-master relationship!
Many recruiters conduct a visit like a pinball in a pinball machine. I have seen it 1000 times: they’re all over the place with questions and anecdotes, trying to sell, then asking questions. It’s a disaster!
You must have a plan. You are controlling the meeting – subtly,
yes, but still, you know where it’s going. You ensure it starts with the client talking about their company and their responsibility, and then you lead the conversation to their team and staffing mix.
Then you guide it to hiring challenges and their recruiter likes and dislikes, then on to specific opportunities. Finally, after all this has been done, you talk about your service and how you can solve the client’s issues. Structure. Plan. Agenda.
Poor questioning skills
Oh yes! In this industry, we are great talkers. I am no slouch myself. But the secret to a great client meeting is asking great questions. Selling is listening. Unfortunately, most client meetings fail because the recruiter does not ask questions at all. Or ask the wrong ones. Or wimps out on the important ones.
Guess what? In a good client visit, the client speaks 70% of the time. You talk 30%. After you have asked all the questions, understood the need, and therefore know what to say! Job done.
Missing the needs
Often, we are so anxious to ‘sell’ – so quick to leap on a client comment and tell them how we would handle the situation, so desperate to include all our differentiators – that we miss the client’s ‘hot button’: the pain points, the critical need they want to be met.
Poor closing skills.
Not long ago, one of my new recruiters told me they thought asking for the business at the end of a client visit was ‘too pushy’.
Lord, help me.
Why do you think you are there? For the cup of tea? A well-structured client visit, in which all questions have been asked, needs unearthed, objections resolved, and your offering clearly sold, must end with you asking for the job order. If you don’t or can’t do that, guess what? You just wasted the whole exercise.
This is simple advice that most recruiters will ignore.
Build IRL client and prospect meetings into your weekly work schedule. Always. Good job market or not.
Then, improve your skills at this most sophisticated of recruiting moments of truth.
Upgrade your recruiter BD skills.
The skills recruiters need now to succeed are VERY different from those that have sufficed in recent years.
But the good news is – it’s still a great time to be a recruiter!
There’s still plenty of opportunity, but you must ensure you have the proper skill set to take advantage of the current market.
And right now, it’s all about BD!
How much would these training modules help with motivation, ideas, and results?
Selling starts with credibility. How do you earn it?
Defining your values, differentiators, and your ‘pitch’
The power of social selling, including a branding framework
Running a great sales meeting (Critical!)
Building ‘trust’ in recruitment selling
Selling to big companies
Selling exclusivity on job orders
When the client is talking, you are selling (Questioning skills)
Making your ‘cold -calls’ warm
The selling skills of ‘reverse marketing’
BD for rookies
How to ‘Flex your BD muscle’ in this market
If you or your team need to improve your business development skills, the Savage Recruitment Academy is packed with courses to ensure you succeed in tomorrow’s recruitment market.
- Posted by Greg Savage
- On October 23, 2023
- 3 Comments