A few years ago, Bryan Burkhart, cofounder of flower delivery startup H. Bloom, wrote an article in the NY Times heralding the fact that his company was able to grow to 80 employees without the help of professional recruiters.
He highlighted LinkedIn as the key tool that enabled his company to achieve that astonishing growth. It’s clear by now that LinkedIn isn’t going to destroy the market for recruiting agencies, but Burkhart points out a reality that recruiters would do well to keep in mind: It’s easier than ever before for companies to recruit new talent on their own.
These days, your competition for new business is not only other recruiting firms, but also the “do-it-yourself” attitude that businesses have adopted thanks to the rise of networking sites and access to seemingly unlimited talent.
The good news is every hiring company faces the same three pain points. Overcoming the “do-it-yourself” boils down to demonstrating you can solve their problems more quickly and more cheaply than they can themselves. Quick spoiler: winning on all three points is a matter of focusing on results.
Demonstrate the results you’ve achieved for other customers on these three key points, and you’ll never run into an objection you can’t handle.
1. Quality Candidates
Obviously, delivering quality candidates is by far and away the greatest concern for your prospects. The challenge is figuring out how to convince new customers to trust that the candidates you present are indeed the best out there. After all, they’re hearing the same message from every firm they contact.
The way to differentiate yourself is to clearly define what makes a good candidate — what type of person will excel at their company? What skillsets does the company need to emphasize in their job description? What’s the profile of a top performer at the company?
Do your homework on your prospect going in and draw parallels from positions you’ve filled at similar companies. References are an incredibly powerful tool for this. Current customers who have a similar business to your prospect and can vouch for you are your most potent sales tool.
Any objections you get regarding how a company is unique or has special qualifiers give you a chance to show your expertise and differentiate yourself further by explaining how you can tailor your services to find the exact match the company needs, and backing your words up with the hard data you collect.
2. Speed of Delivery
Regardless of what kind of timeline hiring managers give you, they always expect results quickly. Open positions are a monkey on the manager’s back, so prove that your services are the fastest, most cost effective solution for their problems.
Have a blunt conversation with new prospects about the position they’re trying to fill and then give them an honest answer of how long it will take you to fill it based on your talent pipeline. If you’re doing a good job locating companies that will benefit from your services, be confident in your ability to deliver high quality candidates in the shortest time possible.
Better yet, keep track of your time-to-fill for every placement you make, and give prospects hard data on when they can expect to have butts in seats. Even companies that are fairly adept at filling positions on their own rarely have insight into how long it will actually take them to make a hire, so providing a concrete, data-backed estimate goes a long way.
Let’s face it, recruiters have a terrible reputation. Yes, that reputation is unfairly based on inexperienced, poorly trained recruiters who make everyone else look bad. The unfortunate reality is whether you earned it or not, it’s a reputation you have to work hard to overcome.
Find ways to prove that you will respond promptly to requests from the hiring manager and show that you don’t inundate clients with resumes. Again, hard data is invaluable here. Every recruiter your prospects speak with will guarantee quality, speed, and a high level of service — few will have the numbers to back up their claims. That means hard data is a major weapon for winning new business.
Winning new business is like taking care of your car — so long as you are familiar with the most important components and you know how to make all the necessary adjustments, everything will run along smoothly. Minor problems only become real issues when you don’t know how to diagnose them.
So long as you can address client concerns for these three core components of recruiting quality, you should never hesitate to cold-call new clients. You’ve got a valid answer for any objection they can throw at you.