Tag Archives: excellence

Recruiters: How to keep from becoming extinct!

I have seen some articles of late that suggest corporate recruiters will soon be unnecessary. They typically tout the power of the internet to attract and screen candidates and imply that “old-fashioned, human-to-human” recruiting has become too much of a cost center, without enough benefit. Destined, perhaps, for extinction.

Dinosaur by domdeen

In my world of sales, I’ve seen articles that also predict the demise of sales people simply because today’s buyers have access to so much information and typically are almost completely through their buying process before even talking with a sales person. Yikes.

Before we get too depressed, I want to offer a suggestion — and a challenge — to help ensure that you, as a recruiting professional, continue to be seen as a critical, value-added piece of the hiring process.  In fact, I believe that recruiters can (and do!) create tremendous value for hiring managers, prospects, candidates and companies.

The biggest problem, though, is that recruiters often don’t effectively rise above the crowd and create more value throughout the entire recruiting (and ‘buying’) process. In other words, they find out (too late) that their competitors have done a better job of understanding their prospects and markets and they don’t know how to gain a key, competitive advantage when it comes to engaging with prospects.

I’d like to propose a simple 3-level taxonomy to make my point. And the question you need to ask yourself is, “What level am I?

Level 1 Recruiters: Pitching jobs and companies

Level 1 recruiters may have excellent knowledge of their companies and/or open positions. But the mistake they make is they spend way too much time simply “pitching” or talking about their “awesome opportunity”. They spend very little, if any, time asking questions about their prospects. It’s all about speed and filling open requisitions.

Nothing special here. Your competitors also know their products very well. In addition, you run the risk of truly alienating prospects — especially your passive prospects. The old-school “pitchman” is a thing of the past.  If you recruit at this level, you will certainly become extinct.

When you think about it, what would distinguish a Level 1 recruiter from an awesome landing page on a well-presented corporate career website? Probably not much. Why would a company invest in someone who simply is a “talking brochure”? Stated another way, what would a prospect learn from you they wouldn’t be able to learn (on their own) from the website?

And what can the Level 1 recruiter do that a highly sophisticated resume key-word search program wouldn’t do when it comes to initial sourcing?

Level 2 Recruiters: Solving problems

In Level 2 recruiting, you identify (through your questioning and listening skills) a solid set of items that are important to your prospect, and you carefully align your job/company to match what’s important to your prospect.

Level 2 sellers are skilled at developing unique value proposition statements and know how to tailor their product or service to address a specific problem or need. A Level 2 recruiter would be able to discover key “pain points” (e.g., desire for career growth, or opportunities to work as part of a high-performing team). Then, the “product pitch” would focus on exactly how this opportunity can “solve” the problem the prospect is experiencing.

If you recruit at Level 2, you are probably providing a very similar experience as your competitors, and you are likely getting decent “sat scores” from hiring managers and candidates. From our experience — spending thousands of hours working with hundreds of recruiters — I would say most recruiters are at Level 2. But that brings me to my point. I am not sure that Level 2 recruiters are really showing key, competitive advantage.

So although Level 2 recruiters certainly can help prospects and candidates solve problems and prove value in opportunities, there’s still one more level that will set you apart from your competition and keep you from becoming extinct.

Level 3 Recruiters: Proactive, strategic partners

I think there’s some evidence that in the sales world the very top performers exhibit some other characteristics that truly set them apart. One of those characteristics is the ability to become a strategic partner with clients — one that helps clients see common business problems in a new light. Level 3 sellers are able to create insight — offering possibilities or a future that even their clients can’t yet see.

Level 3 sellers are very smart. Using high levels of customer, industry, and product knowledge, they put together insights that challenge the status quo and thinking of their customers. They put problems in a new light, and they offer innovative ways that their products and services can solve troubling business problems.

Level 3 sellers are proactive, aggressive and strategic. Using business acumen and product knowledge they position themselves as key, collaborative partners with their clients — not just “peddlers of products”. They have truly earned a spot at the decision-making table.

A Level 3 recruiter, then would be one who comes to each encounter prepared. Level 3 recruiters have done their homework — they not only know their product, but they know their markets, prospects, and trends very well.

Level 3 recruiters know how to ask the right questions at the right time — ones that help prospects see opportunities in new ways. To make the distinction between Level 2 and Level 3 recruiting, let me offer an example.

A Level 2 recruiter would be adept at identifying work-life balance as an important driver and (rightfully) share how the position or company would be able to provide the balance that’s important for the prospect.

A Level 3 recruiter, on the other hand, would ask powerful “implication” questions to help the prospect think through how having work-life balance might affect other aspects of the person’s life. In doing so, the Level 3 recruiter might help clarify or solidify the prospect’s thinking — possibly expanding it — and deepening the value proposition.

The Level 3 recruiter might also help the prospect identify new opportunities or challenges that were not originally identified. In our example of work-life balance, the prospect might begin to think about how much more important it is to have opportunities to volunteer in the community (as a result of better work-life  balance), or give back in some way. And perhaps … this line of conversation might even open up more opportunities to sell value (especially if your company prides itself on having strong community service ties).

And one more piece for thought …. I believe that when it comes to engaging top, passive candidates you must be a Level 3 recruiter. No other level will set you apart. Not Level 2 — and certainly not Level 1! You absolutely need to earn your right “at the decision-making table” as a trusted, strategic partner. And I believe that top, passive candidates expect Level 3 recruiting as the “price of entry”.

You get the point. Level 3 sellers — and recruiters — are not in any danger of becoming extinct. They have done their homework and create value by helping create new ways of thinking and new insight.

What level are you? What level do you think your prospects need? Your hiring managers? What can you do to make 2015 the year you move to a new level?

To your success!

Image courtesy of domdeen/www.freedigitalphotos.net

Recruit more prospects with this proven sales technique

In the “old days” of selling, it was all about product knowledge. And, by the way, the sales person usually had the advantage — knowing more about the product than the buyer. For example, remember the days when you didn’t know how much car dealers were paying for cars? Or how much profit they were making? Or even the history of ownership? That’s why they always said, “Buyer beware“!

success ladder by samuiblue

But today’s great sales professionals know that their success depends less on their product knowledge and more on their ability to understand their buyers. Today’s buyers are highly informed and have access to as much — if not more — product information than sellers. In a way, it’s now, “Seller beware“.

In the current sales literature, much has been written about sales success being tied to the ability to map your sales process with how your buyers buy. So here’s a question for you:

As a recruiter, when was the last time you thought about mapping your recruiting process to how your prospects and candidates make decisions about careers?

If you want to enhance the candidate experience AND increase your own recruiting productivity, here are 3 tips that can help.

#1: Pay attention to the steps your prospects go through in making a career decision

Make it a point to talk with your prospects and candidates about how they will make their decision when it comes to career changes. Be sure you have a clear picture of the steps they will go through before considering a move.

In order to uncover this important decision-making process, you must ask great discovery questions. Resolve to ask more (and better!) questions about how your prospects and candidates will make their decisions. If you are unsure of what questions to ask, or have not developed a set of power questions, consider getting some great training to help you accelerate your success.

#2: Become more flexible

A sure “deal-killer” (especially with your passive candidates) is relying too much on your own needs and “script”. We’ve heard many, many recruiters focus entirely on their need to gather information (think: check-off boxes). This type of interview is anything but customer-centric and easily misses the mark when it comes to aligning with what your prospects need when it comes to making an important decision – like a career decision.

Instead of being rigid and staying on your own “script”, try becoming more aware of the importance of getting in tune with where your prospect or candidate might be in the decision-making process. Drop the need to “always be closing” or forge ahead with incorrect assumptions about interest — just to try and close job postings. Use great questioning and listening skills to ensure you are moving at the right pace.

If you move too quickly or don’t pay attention to what your prospect needs in order to be comfortable, you run the real risk of either losing the prospect all together – or unnecessarily lengthening the time it takes to move your prospect forward.

#3: Become a coach and adviser

Try to be more aware of your role as someone who can actually add value and help your prospect process an important decision. Make a conscious decision to step out of “recruiting mode” and pay attention to what is going to help your prospect minimize risk and maximize the ability to achieve career or personal goals.

Put yourself in their shoes and think of the things that they might be looking for. Some examples might be:

  • Doing work that is interesting or challenging
  • Having a great deal of autonomy
  • Working with a great team
  • Developing new skills or building greater competence with existing skills
  • Making a difference – being able to see the positive impact of your work on others (or in your community)

The point is to shift from thinking like a “sales person pushing a product” to thinking like a buyer with specific goals, needs, and fears. How can you help them think through their decision? How can you add value without appearing selfish or pushy? When you can answer these questions, you are well on your way to becoming more of a trusted advisor than a recruiter who simply need to fill an open position.

So the next time you are interviewing a prospect or candidate, stop being a recruiter and become a buyer instead!

Happy selling!

Image courtesy of samouiblue/ freedigitalphotos.net

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


Why you need to pay attention to your prospects’ buying process

One mistake we have seen recruiters make is they forget to pay close attention to the buying process of prospects and candidates. As a result, they not only lose great opportunities, they waste valuable time by taking way too long to “close”.

Swan mirrorHere’s a new year’s resolution idea for you:

Resolve to match your recruiting process with how your “customers buy”.

Whether you are talking with a prospect or candidate, be sure you have a clear picture of how they will make their decision about a career move. Their “buying process” begins with needs.  You will make a huge (think: “rookie”) mistake if you forget to begin your process by understanding the powerful drivers of change.

For your active candidates, don’t assume because they have applied that they are a perfect fit. Use great diagnostic questions to uncover key needs, and then listen carefully to probe and clarify what is being said.

With your passive candidates, it’s even more important to spend time — especially early in the process — and discover what’s important to them when it comes to a career move. After all, without any compelling reason to change, people are going to be highly resistant to your attempts to “sell them” on your great opportunity.

Even the most attractive employer or career move must be sifted through the “buying criteria” of your prospects. The biggest mistake inexperienced sales people make is they skip this step and move too quickly into “pitching” a product. When this happens, run the very real risk of losing opportunities very early in the engagement.

In our experience with recruiters, we often hear them doing the usual “pre-qualification” — asking lots of fact-finding questions. But the problem is these fact-finding questions (typically focused on past experience or work availability) shed little or no light on how prospects or candidates will make a career decision. As a result, recruiters run the risk of being out of step with the buying process. And when you are out of step, you will — at best — damage your relationship.

When you begin with your prospect’s decision-making process in mind, it is much easier for you to begin to establish yourself as a “trusted adviser” in their buying process. As a trusted adviser, your credibility is enhanced, and you will likely encounter fewer objections. In addition, you might even get an opportunity to influence how the decision will be made. For sales professionals, this is the “brass ring” to grab!

Another benefit of keeping in step with your prospects and candidates buying process is that you will be less likely to lose your rock stars to the competition. If you can be a trusted adviser, your prospects (even your passive candidates) will be far less likely to “shop around”.

Finally, here are a few recommendations to help you avoid the costly mistake of misreading (or being out of step with) your prospect’s buying process:

  • Resolve to begin your conversations by focusing on what’s important to your prospects and candidates.
  • Hold off on talking about your opportunity until you have developed a complete list of the things that are most important to your prospects.
  • Spend more time questioning and listening and less time talking — especially early in your engagements.
  • Be careful about moving too quickly. Seek to understand and resolve concerns and hesitations before “selling” or pitching positions.
  • Put yourself in your prospects’ shoes. Think of the things that you might be concerned about — or need — in order to make a good decision.

Think of yourself as a “buying coach” instead of a seller. And as a coach, your first job is to collect good information before making recommendations or adjustments. As the old saying goes, “When we know better, we sell better.”

Want to be serious about starting your new year in step with your prospects? Check out our sales skill training for recruiters — designed to help you ensure you are a trusted adviser to your prospects!

Image courtesy of Dr. Joseph Valks/freedigitalphotos.net

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/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net