Monthly Archives: January 2014

3 tips to help you more efficiently move prospects forward

In today’s busy world, it’s easy to get side-tracked and forgetful. In sales — and in recruiting — keeping track of calls with prospects is critical to success.

arrows by fotographic1980

It may take several calls, spread over several weeks or months, to close business. But how do you keep track of your calls? How do you ensure that you are moving forward and gaining commitment with each call?

Here are three tips to help you become better at following up and moving prospects and candidates forward.

Tip #1: Make use of existing tracking systems to get in the habit of documenting each call

This might seem kind of basic, but sometimes we leave too much to memory or make assumptions about our “best intentions” for following up from our calls. Remember, as soon as you hang up “life happens.”

Make it a point to use a call tracking system or customer relationship management tool to document each contact, rather than depending on various “post-its”, other random jottings or (yikes!) memory.

The best system to use is the one you are most likely to use on a daily basis — or are already using — to track applicants. Try to leverage existing systems, rather than add new ones just to track prospect progress.

For example, if you use Taleo already as your ATS, find ways to incorporate notes in Taleo that help you track prospects — rather than trying to introduce other software or systems. Keeping it simple will increase the likelihood that you will be able to develop the habit of tracking your calls.

#2: Document action items

If your call requires follow up, be sure to capture any action items. The best way to build trust is to be diligent about following up. A best practice is to also include a time frame with each action item you document. Nothing kills rapport and trust more than missing commitments. Prospects expect you to know how to quickly and efficiently manage follow-up items.

Another benefit of documenting and tracking action items is that you demonstrate to your prospect that your are organized and professional. Remember that we are all “crazy-busy” and things can drop off our already-too-full plates. Your organized and efficient handling of action items can actually be a competitive advantage for you.

Tip #3: Use the “buying decision” as your frame of reference

It’s easy to track candidates with “seller-focused” milestones. For example, “1st screening interview” or “sent assessment” or “Initial call”. But these milestones don’t tell you exactly how you need to move a prospect forward — especially a passive candidate.

Instead, get in the habit of documenting where your prospect is in the decision-making process. This practice will help you know exactly where to pick up on your follow-up calls and how to build commitment in a way that acknowledges where your prospect is in the decision-making process.

For example, let’s say you had an initial conversation with a passive candidate and determined that the prospect might be open to making a career move for the right opportunity. You would document the call by noting the person is open to discussing a move — as well as any other key, relevant points you discovered on your initial call.

You would also document at this point that you have set up a 2nd call (noting, of course, date, time, etc) AND that your next step (call objective) would be to discover/identify the key “pain points” or job motivators that would need to be present for the person to make a change.

The point is that you keep careful notes about what you learn about your prospect and how you are helping that person make an informed career decision. Your notes should help you develop each subsequent call objective.

When you document your calls — using the decision-making process as your frame of reference — you are also giving yourself a nice road map for helping ensure you have commitment along the way. Always keep in mind that the conversation is not as much about you or “your process” as it is about them — AND the steps they need to go through to ensure they are comfortable making an important decision.

So get in the habit of quickly and accurately capturing information about each call and turning your notes into a key competitive advantage. Keep your focus on your prospect’s decision-making process and you will ensure that you are able to quickly and efficiently gain commitment and close those “rock star prospects”!

To your success.

 photo courtesy of fotographic1980/www.freedigitalphotos.net

 

Recruiters: When you need to step away from technology!

Much has been written today about the importance and value of technology. No question that technology has changed the way we do business and affects how we achieve our personal and professional goals. But lately I have been concerned about how technology may be making great communication skills extinct.

no cell phones by feelart In her recent best seller, “Pick up the damn phone! How people, not technology, seal the deal” Joanne Black says that too many sales people hide behind computers, hoping to get business. Yikes!

And, I would add, perhaps too many recruiters are guilty of the same behavior. In a recent ere article, I wrote about the importance of being “brilliant on the basics“. I shared my concern about “all things new — including technology — becoming a substitute for having excellent basic communication skills.

Ask yourself — are you guilty of hiding behind your computer, hoping that your emails will turn into signed, sealed & delivered rock stars? As a recruiter, you know that your success depends on your ability to use technology — especially when it comes to sourcing great passive candidates.

But at some point, the ability to “seal the deal” comes from your skill at engaging and persuading those rock star prospects. And being able to “seal the deal” is much more about your “relationship intelligence” than it is about your social networking intelligence, or technological prowess.

No doubt, technology can help you discover and/or uncover opportunities. But don’t think that technology can do your job for you. Technology can never help you connect in a way that develops mutual trust, respect and value.

Don’t be fooled. Your ability to develop rapport is your key, competitive advantage. After all, your competitors all have access to the same technology that you do. And they are probably using technology in the same way — to uncover leads, to learn about prospects and candidates, and to stay current. But that’s where it ends. You can quickly differentiate yourself with excellent communication skills.

It’s your ability to make a quick and personal connection that will win you business. Remember that people do business with other people — not with technology — especially when your sale includes perception of significant risk.

As a recruiter, you know that making a career change can be a risk. Your prospects can present many objections simply because they are experiencing uncertainty, fear and anxiety. They want to eliminate, or at least significantly reduce, risk.

In order to help someone move beyond natural resistance to change, recruiters must become adept at helping a person feel comfortable they are making the right choice. And that involves extraordinary questioning and listening skills — not extraordinary computer skills.

So here’s the challenge. Be honest and ask yourself:

  • Can you quickly and effectively build trust and rapport?
  • Can you get commitment from a prospect who is risk-averse?
  • Can you ask powerful questions — ones that build value on your calls?
  • Can you leverage listening skills to control your calls and move prospects and candidates forward?

As Joanne Black says, don’t get “sucked into the digital snake oil universe“. Make connections that count.

To become better at “sealing the deal” by developing your relationship intelligence, check out these game-changing trainings — just for recruiters!

To your success!

Image courtesy of feelart/freedigitalphotos.net

3 communication tips for your conversation playbook

One of the mistakes we’ve heard recruiters make is that they miss opportunities to influence prospects and candidates because they don’t have a good “conversation playbook.” The temptation is to default to asking the same questions over and over, without any thought of change or improvement. But without a good playbook, recruiters can lose their “power position when it comes to selling” and be vulnerable to objections — especially salary objections.

people skills David Castillo Dominici

If you “do what you’ve always done … you’ll get what you always got…”. Perhaps that is OK with you. But I’d like to suggest that the beginning of the new year is a great time to resolve to develop and master some great new communication skills — especially those that have the potential to increase your productivity (help you get more information in less time) and even decrease your time to find/fill.

Here are three tips you can put in your conversation playbook — tips to help you enhance your ability to influence, using some great communication skills.

Tip #1: Begin your calls by clearly communicating your purpose and benefit statement

Get in the habit of clearly stating the purpose of your call in terms of a “benefit statement” for your prospect. We’ve heard many recruiters simply start “pitching positions” or rambling about opportunities without being clear about what it is they want to accomplish on the call.

Resolve to begin your call with a clear statement of purpose — as well as a benefit statement. An example might be, “I’d like to spend about 5 minutes learning what’s important to you when it comes to making a career move. And then, let’s decide together if it’s worth scheduling a follow-up call. By getting a good list of what’s important to you, my hope is that I won’t waste your time sharing lots of details that might not be important to you.”

Tip #2: Get in the habit of checking in

Sometimes we can get ahead of ourselves — or make assumptions — during our calls. Another great communication technique is to do frequent check-in’s with prospects and candidates. These check-in’s don’t have to be long or complicated. Simple, short questions are fine.

Using our example from Tip #1 above, you can end your call opening statement with something like, “….how does that sound to you?”

Check-in’s also have another, more subtle purpose. They actually give the other person some sense of control or power. They have a chance to “weigh in” and feel like the next step in the call is under their control (their “yes” or “no” to your question). For  many prospects, the desire to feel like they have some control on the call is important and may help you more quickly build rapport.

Check-in’s can be used during calls as well — not just to confirm next steps. For example, after you share some information or answer a question you can check in with a simple question, “Does that make sense?” Or, “Does that answer your question?

You can also use this type of check-in to uncover possible concerns or objections by asking, “What other concerns do you have at this point?” Sometimes we can be surprised by hidden concerns simply because we’ve missed key opportunities to simply “check in” with this easy question.

When you combine your opening purpose/benefit statement with a check-in question, you quickly establish your credibility, gain alignment, and start your call off with a “best communication practice.”

Tip #3:  Ask impactful, qualifying questions

In our experience listening to many, many recruiter calls, we have noticed the tendency to spend too much time asking what we consider “throw-away” or unnecessary questions. We have helped recruiters do a thorough “question audit” to be sure they are maximizing their time asking impact questions, not “fact-finding” questions.

One simple step is to look over your questions and remove the ones that don’t give you insight or key information about your prospect. For example, try doing a little more homework or research prior to your call so you don’t waste time asking questions that you can easily find answers to from resumes, Facebook or LinkedIn profiles, etc.

Replace the tired, worn out “fact-finding” questions with a few key power questions. For example, one great power question is one that helps you quickly discover the “pain points” or key factors that would help drive a career move.

Your prospects — especially your passive candidates — will be more likely to engage with you when you show you’ve done your homework and can ask insightful, powerful questions that quickly help you both understand what’s important.

Make this year a great year! Start by communicating with influence — using these three tips. For more information — or help in developing your skills — check out our recruiter sales skill training.

To YOUR success in the new year!

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/freedigitalphotos.net

3 Tips for better pipeline management

I’ll admit that working sales funnels/pipelines is not always the most glamorous topic. For some reason, we tend to prefer just “plowing ahead” to “stopping to ponder and plan”. But paying attention to how you manage your opportunities is a key to your success in being able to deliver quality candidates and shorten your “selling cycles”.

gears by renjith krishnan

Here are three, simple activities that you can do right now to help you become better at managing your pipeline and becoming a more productive recruiter.

#1: Above the pipeline: Create value & differentiate yourself

Developing your list of target prospects (great sourcing) is, of course, the first step in developing a great pipeline. But so often I’ve heard recruiters simply “throw out a job opportunity” to prospects they’ve sourced, hoping something might stick.

In this “above the pipeline” stage, you need to be very careful about refraining from any discussion of specific job opportunities or companies. Instead, focus your attention on understanding your prospect’s desires, needs, “pain points”, etc. – then spend time creating value.

Think of selling (and recruiting) as a series of value-based conversations. You create value when you understand what’s important to your prospects, then carefully develop and unpack how you can meet (or exceed) their expectations with your opportunity. It’s your careful listening skills – along with thoughtful, insightful questions – that help you establish yourself as a valued partner in the decision-making process with your prospects.

Also keep in mind that today’s prospects (especially your ‘rock star’ passive candidates) are probably approached by many recruiters and have lots of options. So think of how you can set yourself apart from the crowd. What makes you different? Perhaps it’s your unique approach to partnering with your prospects – asking key, insightful questions and listening with attention and interest – that differentiates you from other recruiters who are busy “pitching jobs”.

#2: Inside the pipeline: Follow a successful sales process

Once you have successfully engaged with your prospect, you need to be intentional about moving them through careful steps –also known as a sales process. Mere “activity” and lots of phone calls won’t cut it. You need to be doing the right things at the right time.

Successful sales professionals always use a proven “playbook” to help guide them through the relationship in the funnel or pipeline. And the playbook mirrors the decision-making process of their prospects. Think of a sales process or playbook as a simple roadmap. It tells you how to get to your destination.

It’s no different in recruiting. You need have good knowledge of how your passive candidates make a career decision so you can be sure you are in step. Moving too quickly – or too slowly – can turn a prospect into a “no show”.

You also need to be sure you are carefully measuring your conversion rates to know where opportunities might be stalled out. Good metrics are another key component of working effectively inside the pipeline.

One good metric is simply “velocity”. Are you tracking how quickly opportunities move through your pipeline? If not, it’s a great place to start. Once you get comfortable tracking velocity, then you can better diagnose where opportunities might be stalled or falling out. And once you understand where you might be losing prospects, you can even pinpoint (and fix) the problem in your selling process.

#3: End of pipeline: Review and evaluate

It’s another best practice to regularly check your own progress and strive to improve. If you don’t have someone who can coach or mentor you in this process, try finding someone who can help you. More than simple “loss reviews”, these end-of-process evaluations can also help you understand what you are doing well (that you need to build on!).

If you don’t regularly seek feedback from your clients, hiring managers, and candidates, get started. Ask them about the process and the extent to which you met (or exceeded) their expectations as a business partner and value-added resource in the decision-making process.

And don’t forget to look at your measures of success – including velocity. Use the metrics to help you diagnose and avoid future costly mistakes.

So the next time you are wondering how you might enhance your recruiting skills and productivity, try these three powerful — and easy — steps.

To your success!

photo courtesy of renjith krishnan/freedigitalphotos.net