Monthly Archives: November 2013

Recruiters: Avoid this common assumption about your prospects

Are you making assumptions about how much your prospects know about themselves? Seems like a silly question, but successful sales people know how to help their prospects think about their business problems with fresh insight. They don’t assume that prospects always know exactly what they need.

man with new idea outside box wc

As as recruiter, don’t assume your prospects have thoroughly thought through what’s of value when it comes to a career move. Think of that “No thanks, I’m happy where I am” as an automatic “reflex response” that needs some investigation to uncover assumptions and create insight.

I’d like to share two tips on how you can create insight and add value to your prospects and candidates.

Step #1: Insist on the list

In recruiting, you might be tempted to assume that your prospects always know exactly what they need. After all, you are probably talking with prospects (especially if they are passive candidates) who are successful and who are presumably satisfied where they are. However, it’s still critical for you to be able to help your prospects deepen their insight into what’s important to them.

Begin by asking power questions that help you understand their “aspirations and afflictions“. Do a thorough job of asking probing and clarifying questions related to various things that your prospect says are important when it comes to making a career decision. Your goal should be to help your prospect articulate and develop a specific, short list of items that will form the basis for a career move. For some prospects, this exercise alone can be quite valuable — creating insight! You may even have some prospects who say they have never really thought about making this list!

The critical skills here are questioning and listening. You must be able to ask questions that give you the right list of things that are important, and you need to use lock-on listening skills to help you get a clearer picture of these items — as well as their relative importance.

Step #2: Use insight to excite

This step is the “heavy lifting” step in sales. Here’s where you need to be able to challenge assumptions and ask questions that provide additional levels of insight. Less successful sales people forget this step and go straight into “pitching” once they have the list. Avoid this mistake, because it will brand you as just another person “pitching a product”.

Instead, continue asking insightful questions that help your prospect think through the implications of their assumptions and desires. For example, if your prospect is looking for growth opportunities, ask questions that help them understand the consequences of staying where they are. These questions actually can “build pain“. When you build pain, you not only help your prospect think differently about their own assumptions, but you also can create a stronger need or desire for change.

Or try this little exercise. Think of one of the things that your company — or job opportunity — provides that is a competitive advantage. Now imagine that you are talking with a prospect who is a perfect match for your opportunity; however, imagine they now tell you they really don’t think they are dissatisfied enough to justify a move at this time.

Think of the reasons why your prospect might be wrong, and why a career move might just be the exact right move for them. To get the hang of these insight/implication questions try beginning with phrases, “What effect would that have on…?” Or, “How to you think that would cause …?”

Write down the implications you can think of that may adversely affect your prospect who thinks “status quo” is fine. Your reasons will be the basis for the insight that your prospect will realize when responding to your questions.

Make no mistake, although the critical skill of developing insight is highly effective in closing sales (and passive prospects) it is not easy. It takes practice and attention to your questioning and listening skills. Commit to becoming great at these two steps and continue to build a list of powerful implication questions.

To your success!


Four tips to better presentations

One overlooked skill in recruiting is the skill of presenting. Great presentations do not happen by accident. They are purposefully crafted and practiced with intention. board room wc Face it, no matter how great your opportunity or company, if you are not able to communicate to your candidates and prospects what makes your “product” so special, you will lose great prospects. I want to provide you with four tips to help you further develop this critical skill.

Tip #1: Know your value proposition

Your value proposition should be the “central message” of your presentation. Build your presentation around what’s most important (think:  value) to your prospect. Nothing is more boring — or even offensive — than a presentation that doesn’t address what’s important to your audience.

Just like in sales, recruiters need to know how to state a compelling value proposition. If you want your prospects or candidates to become excited about your opportunity, you need to look beyond the common “marketing materials” and focus on what I call the “so what”.

For example, if your company has won awards for being a “great place to work”, your presentation should not focus on the fact that you’ve won awards. Who cares? Focus instead on presenting specific details that you know are of value to your prospect. Perhaps it’s work-life balance. Or maybe it’s opportunities for growth and development.

Make sure you know specifically what contributed to that award, and then link directly to what’s important to your prospect. Remember that your prospect will make a decision based on what is of value. Simply stated, your job is to uncover those value points and present information that will help your prospect see how your position aligns with what’s important.

Tip #2: Present with enthusiasm, conviction and passion

When making presentations, your tone of voice and level of certainty when presenting have an impact on your prospect. After all, if you are not passionate and convincing, why should your prospect be excited? Of course, you need to keep the focus on your prospects — and what’s of value to them — but your passion and conviction can make a huge difference. Don’t be afraid to sound upbeat and excited. And, of course, back your enthusiasm up with great facts.

Tip #3: Customize your presentations

Although it may be tempting to develop a few “word tracks” that you rely on when presenting your position or offer, be careful to ensure that each presentation is uniquely developed for “an audience of one”. If you pull out your “cheat sheets” and simply recite the same information over and over, you run the risk of sounding a bit canned and even becoming a commodity.

Your prospect can easily drift off and begin to think, “Oh sure, you say this to all your prospects…” I am going to go so far as to say, if you have given the same presentation to the last three prospects, you are doing something wrong. Your presentations are missing the mark.

Tip #4: Practice your presentation

I am always amazed when I see how many recruiters simply don’t practice presentations. They somehow think that they can magically deliver a “pitch perfect” presentation without practice. Think of professional athletes, musicians and actors. They all practice, despite the fact that they are professionals and are paid lots of money to perform.

Even if you have a presentation that takes into account the first 3 tips in this post, if you are stuttering and fumbling for words, you run the risk of failing with a poor presentation. Want to really challenge yourself? How about finding a trusted partner and run through your presentation — asking for feedback. Don’t have a partner? How about recording yourself. Either way, the practice will enhance your ability to deliver a great presentation. More tips on presentations!

Recruiters: Three tips to help you better qualify your prospects

One of the most important skills in sales — and recruiting — is the ability to properly qualify prospects.  But I’ve noticed when working with recruiters, many of them are not completely comfortable with this critical skill.

quality control

In some cases, qualifying sounds like, “I see you are located near [xxx]. We have a clinic right near you and are now looking for great folks, like yourself, who might want to make a great career move. Are you interested?”

This type of opening is almost certain to end in a “no thanks” (at best). More likely, and even worse, it will probably invite the “What does it pay?” question.  In either case, this is not qualifying the prospect.

More importantly, you have just given the impression that the sole “qualifier” for your prospects is location. In most cases, I would assume this is not the case. It’s likely that you have lots of other things you may be interested in, besides location.

It’s common in recruiting — as in sales — to miss the mark when it comes to qualifying.  Here are three tips that can help you better qualify your prospects and enhance your pipeline of great prospects.

Qualifying Tip #1: Set clear expectations

One good way to develop rapport and properly qualify prospects is to set good call objectives and clearly communicate them to your prospect.  People appreciate knowing what to expect. Don’t be afraid to let your prospect know you’d like to ask them some questions about their career goals — and that you may (or may not) have an opportunity they might be interested in.  But be clear that the purpose of the call is to quickly and accurately identify if there might be a fit.

It’s also a good practice to make it sound like you are interested in a partnership — in collaborating with your prospect. In other words, you want to begin by setting the expectation that both of you are on a “mission” to determine if this might be a good fit — a “win-win”.

Qualifying Tip #2: Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions

This might seem a bit strange, but it’s better to know early on the call that your prospect might not be the best fit.  I’ve heard recruiters get very excited about “establishing rapport” and building a relationship — at the expense of good qualifying.

Of course, you need to be sure to warm up the call and establish a good start; however, if you wait too long to ask the hard (think: qualifying) questions, you are in danger of losing rapport and annoying your prospect by wasting their time (and yours!).

The tough questions are those that directly correlate with success on the job.  You need to be able to properly assess if your prospect can demonstrate the competencies you know are tied to success.  If you have not taken the time to develop a solid list of competencies that you can use when qualifying your prospect, it’s important to do so.

Qualifying Tip #3: Timing is everything

When you want to qualify a prospect, you want to help your prospect devote their full attention to your call and questions.  Be sensitive to the place and time of your call.  Naturally, you will want to find a time when you can speak with your prospect without interruptions or distractions.  For many prospects, a call at work is not a good time.  For others — especially those who work night shifts — a call in the morning would not be good.

Just ask your prospect what would be a good time to speak — giving them a chance to set the stage for success.  And, in the process, you can be more confident that you are able to get honest and thoughtful responses to your qualifying questions.

The difference between sales winners and those who come in second Part 3 (of 3)

In last week’s blog (Part 2 of 3), we looked at the skill of “convincing.” In this post (Part 3 of 3) let’s look at “collaborating” and see how these study findings can be useful for recruiters who want to enhance their own excellence – finishing as the “winner” and not “second place”.


people moving gears together

In the RAIN study of more than 700 calls, the winners were adept at working closely with buyers by being proactive and responsive. They collaborated with buyers by educating them and bringing fresh perspectives and new ideas to the table.

The collaboration drove a relationship that was very much a partnership — with both buyer and seller owning the process and moving the sale forward.

Implication for recruiting

As a recruiter, think of how you interact with your prospects and candidates. Do you help establish a relationship that is mutual? Or do you sometimes feel as though you are “pulling someone along” with heavy-duty “selling” of a position? And what about trying to “motivate” your prospect to want to make a change? Does it seem one-sided?

Try thinking more in terms of developing a dynamic where some level of mutuality is expected and respected. Of course, it’s critical that you bring new ideas and challenges to your prospect; however, you also need to help your prospect “put some skin in the game” as well. Try developing the sense that the two of you are in a partnership — each having a unique role to play — and at the same time wanting to achieve a common goal.

One good way to set up a partnership is to begin by agreeing on a common vision, such as finding a “win-win” fit. It may be easy to agree on a common goal and will help you begin on a positive, collaborative note. When you begin in this manner, you actually position yourself as a key player in helping your prospect or candidate achieve success.

When you begin in a collaborative mode, you are less likely to have difficulty working through differences (think: objections). Although differences and/or disagreements are bound to occur during the process, you can instill confidence and trust when your prospects believe you have their best interest at heart and are working toward the “win-win.”

Collaboration also involves establishing clear expectations and agreements. Get in the habit of clarifying next steps and responsibilities after each contact. Again, it’s important to keep your leadership role; however, you want to ensure that you both are in partnership. You can certainly drive the agenda and set expectations for calls, etc. But be sure to keep an eye on allowing for lots of mutual “give and take”.

A “dynamic skill-set duo” to work on involves advocacy and inquiry.  These two, important skills combine to help you develop a great collaborative relationship. With advocacy, you are being more active and driving the call — especially with your questioning. With inquiry, you still are in control; however, you lean more on your active listening skills to ensure you are in sync with your prospect or candidate.

Be sure the focus of your interactions continues to be on “us as a team” with your common goal in mind. As mentioned, you each have different roles to play on the team; however, each role is critical to bringing you to the “winners circle” — achieving the goal you started with.  And that’s a “win-win”.

Here’s to the winners!  Here’s to you!

Image courtesy of jscreationzs/