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.
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!