If you’re working in the recruitment industry, then one of the first skills you need to master is the ability to handle client calls effectively – and to your advantage. But sometimes, conventional wisdom becomes flawed – and new recruits miss out on the insights that can really transform their calling ability. This is particularly the case in the competitive ERP recruitment industry, where every advantage must be capitalized upon!
An accepted principle?
Conventional recruitment approaches state that warm client leads are better than cold ones. And as a result, many recruiters will focus their time and energy on those ‘warm’ lists and avoid the cold ones as far as possible! However, this maxim may not be entirely true.
Some of the best ERP recruiters have an alternative view. Yes, initially – and all other factors being presented as equal – the toss up between a warm and cold lead seems quite simple, with the warm lead appearing to be preferable. After all, this client prospect has approached you with a defined need and may indeed already have the budget in place – or the ability to make a decision – around spending and engagement of your recruitment service.
Contrast this to the cold lead, who possibly came from a meeting held by a partner vendor, calling on your agency’s behalf – or a colleague in the firm who has offered you a ‘foot in the door.’ You may be of the opinion that this lead will provide an attractive prospect for your recruitment services – a business that fits your target market profile and a contact who is at ‘c-level’ within the decision making hierarchy, or above. However, this new contact may not have heard of you – and they certainly won’t know you; so there is no benefit from ‘transferred trust’, which you will get from warm referrals. The situation is also very different from that of a potential client who has sought out your services.
A typical scenario
The scenario above may well lead to a common situation; you heading off to meet the prospect with confidence and enthusiasm – and then returning with the disappointing feeling that your time may well have been wasted. Initially you may feel that the cold caller may have sent you on a mission without a viable return. However, this isn’t always strictly the case. The fact is, every recruiter has the power and ability to generate successful outcomes from a ‘cold’ meeting – but only if they take full responsibility for earning that success. To enjoy more successful cold conversations, employ these steps to improve your success:
Strategies for successful ‘cold’ meetings
- Firstly, ensure that your meeting client has been carefully targeted. If you ask a cold caller to secure you a meeting, make sure you communicate your target audience – the contact’s job title, the company type, the geography and so forth. If you find yourself sitting opposite a person who fits your target profile, your chances of success greatly improve. If you don’t – they won’t!
- Secondly, research carefully. Knowledge is power and you need to be able to leverage your research within the meeting. Find out about the prospect’s background and experiences, industry, the business, his or her objectives and focus. People respond when they see that you’ve taken the time to understand their world.
- Check your expectations of the outcome. You are very unlikely to progress from an initial meeting, to having a new client, without further work. The first meeting is simply to begin the process of building your credibility and trust. You won’t be securing a sale during the first conversation! Work your prospect through your usual process, to build your rapport, discover their needs, articulate your value and gain their commitment. This will take energy, focus and time.
- Demonstrate and articulate your value. Think about what you can offer in the first meeting. This is important to show what it will be like to do business with you. Ask yourself how you can make your meeting worthwhile in the client’s eyes and seek to deliver on that promise.
- Establish that initial connection and understand the client’s need. You’ll need to carry out questioning and build rapport to discover those needs and ensure that you understand them. Remember, the client may not yet be clear in his or her own head what needs they have, so you may also need to assist with questioning to uncover them.
- Never leave the meeting without agreeing what your next step is! You’ll need to define what will happen next and how you will follow up – whether that’s via a second meeting, a letter or presentation, or extra information. Set a timescale for this and ensure that you have the prospect’s buy-in.
- And finally – but crucially – always make sure that you follow up! The process for business development does take time. You will need to stay engaged with the process, to ensure success. Stay in touch by sending relevant information, useful information articles and continuing the conversations. Don’t allow your hard work to be wasted – guide the prospect through the buying stages and your hard work should reap dividends.