While much of the talk around recruiting focuses on finding candidates and filling roles, business development is just as crucial to your success. To put it simply: There’s no need to find candidates or fill roles if you don’t have clients asking you to do so.
While some people treat “business development” as a fancy term for sales, there is much more to the function. As Forbes contributor Scott Pollack puts it, “Business development is the creation of long-term value for an organization from customers, markets, and relationships.”
If you are a recruiter, your business development efforts will involve a variety of activities, such as identifying prospective clients, reaching out, getting business, taking job orders, maintaining relationships, and a whole lot more.
Because it is such a complex function, your best bet would be to take a course on business development. To help you get off on the right foot, however, we’ve also compiled the following top 10 tips for new recruiters:
1. It’s Not a One-and-Done Sale — It’s the Beginning of a Relationship
To successfully do business development, you need to go into it with the right mindset. Don’t focus too much on making a sale when you reach out to prospective clients. Yes, your goal is to get the organization’s business, but you want that business to come in the form of a long-term partnership, rather than a one-off role to fill.
To that end, you should never make the hard sell at the expense of a long, lucrative relationship with a client. You want to be the go-to recruiter/recruiting firm for your clients. Always do what’s right for the relationship, not necessarily what’s right for you at a given moment.
2. Take Time to Build Your Brand
Your prospects are going to look you up online. That’s the way the world works now. When they punch your name into Google, you want them to find a professional online presence that fosters trust in you and confidence in your recruiting abilities.
Put some time into building your online brand. Keep your LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook pages up to date. Share interesting content that shows people you are passionate and knowledgeable about your field. It’s great to share others’ insights, but you should also try to produce content of your own.
Among the content you produce should be success stories regarding your agency’s performance. You want to demonstrate your track record of meeting clients’ needs with top-tier talent. That way, prospects will be more willing to give you a shot.
3. Do Research — and Dig Deep
Before calling a prospect, dig deep. Who are they? What is their company? What does the company do? What recent awards has it won? Has it been in the news?
The point is that you can’t just reach out to everybody with an open role. Before contacting any prospect, you should have thorough knowledge of their organization. Remember: You are trying to win their trust and their long-term business. Showing in-depth knowledge of their company is one way to do that.
4. Don’t Make Cold Calls for the Sake of It
Before you pick up the phone to make a cold call, you need to be sure you can offer value to a prospect in a specific way. Can you fill a role for them? Can you connect them to a new source of talent? Can you get their job ads in front of the right people?
If you don’t have a concrete plan for offering value to a prospect right now, you’re not ready to make that cold call.
5. Reference Your Results
When you do make the call and pitch your value, you have to prove you’re not making empty promises. Do so by referencing your or your agency’s previous results. Did you cut one client’s time-to-hire in half? Do your clients consistently cite your candidates as the highest-quality talent they have? Find a way to quantify the results you’ve achieved previously, and share those success stories with your prospects.
6. Be Action-Oriented
You want to be sure the call always ends with some agreed-upon action step to be taken by both parties, whether it’s another call to be made in a couple of weeks, or a meeting next month, or a job order to be sent. That way, you can propel the relationship forward to what matters most: Doing the work and getting paid.
If you don’t end a call with clear action steps, there’s a good chance you’ll never reconnect with that prospect. When you’ve both committed to something — even if you haven’t yet won the prospect’s business — then you’re more likely to stay top of mind, and you’re guaranteed to meet again.
7. Talk About Ideal Candidate Profiles
Once you have a prospect’s business locked down, it’s time to take a job order. There’s a lot to know about job order best practices, but one point in particular should be emphasized: Don’t forget to talk about ideal candidate profiles.
When taking a job order, your pressing concerns will probably be the nitty-gritty details of title, qualifications, and so on. However, you should also take time to ask about the client’s past hires and current employees. Who are the best among them? What qualities and personality traits do they share? What would the ideal candidate for this role look like, based on the traits of other excellent employees?
By fleshing out an ideal candidate profile, you gather valuable information you’ll need to ensure you don’t simply deliver a candidate, but the best candidate. That is how you keep clients coming back.
8. Reflect on Your Experiences
As with so much else, business development requires a certain amount of experiential learning. You can — and should — do a lot of studying up, but some of the most valuable lessons you’ll learn will come from on-the-job happenings.
After every conversation with a prospect or client, reflect on what happened. What went right? What went wrong? What can you do differently going forward? Especially when you’re just starting out, you should emerge from every call a little bit better at business development than before.
9. Look to Current Clients to Find Your Next Clients
You’ll have to do a fair amount of digging through social media sites — not to mention some good, old-fashioned networking — to find prospects, but that’s not the only way to surface new opportunities. When looking for new clients, start by looking at the clients you already serve.
Which clients give you the most business? With which clients do you have the best track records? Look for commonalities between your most lucrative and successful clients. Perhaps they all operate in the same industry, or need the same kinds of roles filled, or are about the same size.
Whatever those common features are, go looking for other companies that fit the bill. There’s a good chance you’ll find success with them, too.
10. Rejection Is Not the End
No matter what you do, some prospects won’t work out — at first. They may not need your help at the moment, or they may not yet be sold on your value. That’s okay — you just have to keep at it.
This doesn’t mean you bombard prospects with message after message. Instead, it means you should maintain the relationships, with an eye on generating value. Check in periodically to see how a prospect is doing. Reach out to congratulate them when you hear positive news about their company. Share articles they will find interesting.
By maintaining the relationship, you’ll stay top of mind, and you’ll steadily build the prospect’s trust in you. Eventually, that trust may just turn into business.
While these 10 tips will certainly help you get a start in business development, they aren’t enough on their own. To really master the art, you’ll need more intensive study.
Check out the Recruiter.com Certification Program (RCP). Designed to teach anyone, anywhere how to become a recruiter, the RCP will soon roll out a brand new unit dedicated entirely to business development for new recruiters. Register today to be the first to know about the new courses!