Are your prospects and candidates taking longer than you’d like to make decisions? Have you done a good job of asking questions and listening — then carefully aligning your career move with the pain points — yet people still seem reluctant to move forward? Chances are, you failed the “so what” test. Let’s look closer.
I am assuming that you already know that your prospects — especially your passive ones — will not be remotely interested in making a move unless they are in some sort of “pain”. That is to say, unless there is some level of dissatisfaction, it just wouldn’t make sense to begin the uncomfortable “change process”.
So, as a good recruiter, your first task is to uncover the “pain points”. Using great questioning and listening skills, you carefully manage your calls (especially early on) to ensure you understand the things that are most important to your prospect. For some, it might be growth opportunities, for others it might be job stability, and for others it might even be a better location or shift. The important point here is to ensure you have done a good job of getting the complete list.
And once you have this list, you begin to “sell” your opportunity. In other words, you demonstrate how your position or company aligns with their needs. In sales, we called it “demonstrating capability.” But let’s say you have done these steps, yet you still are finding that prospects just are not moving forward.
Here’s where the “so what” test is critical. The “so what” test literally can take your conversation to a new level; however, it’s a level that few sales professionals and recruiters get to. The “so what” test is designed to help your prospect get clear on the consequences of doing nothing.
To serve up the “so what” test, you need to have some questions that laser in on the affects, or impact, of status quo. For example, you need to ask your prospect if they don’t address the pain points that you have identified on your call, “so what?” What will not happen that they were hoping for? What might happen that that might adversely affect them? If you can help uncover any “unintended” consequences that your prospect had not thought of, you are adding enormous value and have just set yourself apart from 99% of others who simply are “pitching a job”.
For many of your prospects, they may realize that the growth opportunities — or promotions they had hoped for — may fall by the wayside if they don’t act. Or they might discover that the longer they wait to achieve work-life balance, the more their family may be adversely affected. Or they might see that a competitive advantage they had hoped for might be slipping away if they wait too long to make a move.
The “so what” test creates urgency. It answers the all-important question, “Why now?” It can make a reluctant or slow-moving prospect suddenly begin to understand the significant downsides of waiting to make a decision. What you want to do here is help the person get a deeper understanding of the business and/or personal impact that procrastinating can have.
One important skill in moving through the “so what” test is helping develop the business case — or ROI — on achieving their goals, or avoiding pain. See if you can develop some great questions around the “cost:benefit” of making a career move. Costs can be uncovered by your great “so what” questions. People can see that the consequences of status quo do have costs associated with them.
Here are some ideas of how your company or career opportunity can be translated into a concrete impact — but feel free to use this list as a starting point for your own creative thinking. Think in terms of how your offering or opportunity can help prospects/candidates:
- increase productivity
- lower risk
- lower stress
- decrease waste of time
- increase or build their “personal brand”
- increase work-life balance
Each of these areas can be quantified and translated into an economic or financial impact. Just remember to be sure that you are working with factors that are relevant and highly important to your prospect — factors that you uncovered with your initial “pain questions.”
And don’t neglect to address and clarify the person’s desire for safety, security, achievement, recognition, esteem, etc. These non-financial” factors are extremely powerful motivators and can often offset financial desires.
Finally, the more you can make the impact tangible and real, the stronger your case will be. Painting a picture of what’s going to change (or not change) can be a very powerful technique.