Tag Archives: value

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

Why prospects stall out & what you can do to get them moving

If you’ve ever been frustrated because your “rock star” prospect just won’t make a decision to move forward with what looks like a great career move, you’re not alone. In sales and in recruiting, it can be very difficult to understand why opportunities just stall out.

newtons law stuart miles

And we can beat ourselves up trying to figure out what we did — or didn’t do — that resulted in “cold feet.”

In this post, I’d like to offer the underlying  reason why you might have a hard time getting your prospect to commit, as well as some practical suggestions that might help get things back on track.

Simple physics: A body at rest…

To gain some foundational knowledge about why prospects may have a hard time making a move, let’s start with a quick physics lesson. Newton’s First Law of Motion states that a body at rest will remain at rest unless an outside force acts on it, and a body in motion at a constant velocity will remain in motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an outside force.

In other words, it is going to take some amount of outside energy to get something to change it’s current state. Think of your reluctant prospect as the “body that is not in motion”. When we apply Newton’s law of motion to our stalled out prospect, we see that a possible root cause of this reluctance might simply  be there is not enough outside energy to overcome the inertia.

The person might not have reached a point where the status quo has been sufficiently challenged or exposed as a problem. As a result, then, your prospect simply is going to “stay at rest” because no outside force has triggered the motion. Stated another way, “no pain, no change”.

Tips to help you move a body at rest

One thing you need to check is the extent to which you have “built the case for change”. Perhaps you have not developed sufficient levels of dissatisfaction to have enough “outside energy” to overcome the inertia. For example, it’s one thing to simply identify “aspirations and afflictions“, but it might not be compelling enough for a person to make a change. The person might be thinking “so what?

To help in this case, you might want to try some “implication” questions to get your prospect thinking about the consequences of not making a move. For example, if the person is hoping for a shorter commute, ask them if they have thought about the implications of spending less time on the road and more time at home. Perhaps the value of “gaining time” (think: improved quality of life, or work:life balance) will move your prospect closer to the threshold of pain where they believe it’s time to change.

Another area to be aware of is the extent to which you are able to clearly articulate a value proposition that is tailored specifically to each prospect. When prospects don’t perceive enough value — outweighing this risk of change — they can become resistant to making a move.

Sometimes it’s tempting to talk about all of the positive things that your company can offer. Perhaps it is a flexible work environment, or a strong team culture, or great opportunities for growth and advancement. But if your prospect is not interested in any of these things, they won’t move forward. No matter how excited you are about what you can offer, or how compelling the argument, if it’s not of value to your prospect, it won’t matter. The “body will remain at rest…”

Be sure you spend time asking questions that get the person to clearly articulate what’s important when making a career move. And get the clear, complete list of things that are of value before you begin to demonstrate capability. Once you are sure that you have the list and understand what is of value, then carefully align your presentation with each of the points that are of value to your prospect.

And don’t forget to check in frequently with quick questions. For example, after sharing what your opportunity can provide that aligns with what is important to the prospect, be sure to stop and ask a brief confirming question. An easy confirming question might be, “Does this sound like it would address your need for clear growth opportunities?”

You can also use a brief confirming question after having a discussion about a specific objection or concern that has come up on the call. Once you’ve finished, simply ask, “Have I addressed your concern?” Or, “Does that answer your question?” And be sure to isolate the objection or concern by asking the open-ended question, “What other concerns do you have at this point?”

Remember that a big decision, like a career move, can be risky. And if prospects perceive too much risk, they will become resistant to change unless they believe that the benefits of making a move clearly outweigh the comfort of the body “remaining at rest“.

In order to avoid having your prospects stall out or become resistant to change, keep focusing on their needs and concerns, rather than on your “pitch” and “awesome opportunity”. And, finally, don’t forget to ask if there is any reason why they would not be comfortable moving forward in the process. Be sure to listen with attention and care to their concerns. Demonstrate your genuine interest in making the call a true “win-win”.

To your success!

Image courtesy of stuart miles/freedigitalphotos.net

Want to boost your success? Ask yourself these 3 questions

Much has been written about what it takes to be successful in sales — and in recruiting. Of course, there are many factors that can contribute to success.

keys to success by watiporn

And, while there are no magic methods or non-stop flights to instant success, at least three key attributes have become foundational for sales (and recruiting) success.

Take this short “self-assessment” using the three questions below to help you better understand how you rate on these three, critical attributes.

#1: Am I a learner ‘at heart”?

In her newest book Agile Selling top sales guru, Jill Konrath, tells us that learning agility is key to sales success. With an ever-changing and complex selling environment — as well as more educated and savvy customers — sales professionals must up their game when it comes to continuous learning and improvement.

It’s no different in recruiting. Your prospects and candidates have done their homework – and they expect the same from you. Research has shown that today’s buyers are more than 60% through their buying process before ever contacting a sales person.

How about you? Are you a learner at heart, or are you set in your ways — doing the same things in the same ways (…and expecting better outcomes!)? For example, when was the last time you refreshed your list of questions for your candidate screens? If it’s been a while, try a simple question audit. Get rid of low-impact questions that waste time on calls and replace them with high-impact questions that quickly move prospects and candidates forward.

Develop your selling skills — especially questioning and listening skills — or learn new ones. Successful recruiters are great sellers. And successful sellers spend time learning about their competitors. Why not make time each day to learn more about your competitors so you can be better prepared to successfully sell against them?

Have you thought about learning more about your “customers“? What is important to them (e.g., growth opportunities, company culture, work-life balance)? And be sure you up your game by learning about “your product” — your company and your job openings, so you can develop that powerful, tailored value proposition to close more candidates. Start by learning what problems can you solve for your prospects and candidates and then learning about how your product addresses what’s most important to them.

#2: How quickly to I bounce back from adversity?

In sales – as in recruiting — there are plenty of times when you might be tempted to feel down or discouraged. Days of cold calling or prospecting can leave you feeling depleted at best. But great sales people know that rejection is just part of selling. Top performers know how to get up — it’s the “bounce that counts”.

Daniel Pink, in his great book To Sell is Human: The surprising truth about moving others  says that “…staying afloat in an ocean of rejection… [p.99]” is key to selling success. He calls this attribute “buoyancy”. Buoyancy is not just a matter of being naive and full of false hope or unfounded optimism. It’s about developing the ability to be objective and balanced about each situation. It’s about not taking everything “personally”.

How about you? When you are tempted to feel down or rejected, how do you react? Do you bounce back rather quickly, or do you tend to brood and become self-critical or play the “victim” — taking everything personally?

Great sales professionals learn from each situation and can analyze each and extract the key learnings. They know that adversity and rejection are part of the sales process and can keep afloat. Begin enhancing your own buoyancy by trying to gain some perspective on each situation where you are tempted to despair. Can you ask some good questions that can lead to insight into why a specific situation led to an undesirable outcome for you? What part did you play? What might you do differently next time to change the outcome?

#3: Do I know how to help others buy?

The third, critical attribute is the ability to maintain a sharp customer focus. Great sales people know how their customers make decisions and are adept at facilitating the buying process — rather than pitching solutions. A great selling process is always aligned with how customers make buying decisions.

We’ve all been on the receiving end of a “bad sales process” that is “seller-centric”. These sellers make it all about them and their product — leaving us feeling manipulated and coerced. As been said before, we can smell “commission breath” a mile away. And it’s not pleasant.

Top sales professionals — and recruiters — know the best way for them to reach their goals is to help prospects and candidates achieve theirs. The equation does not work the other way around.

How about you? When was the last time you thought about what it takes for a person to make a career move or decision? Try mapping your own “sales/recruiting process” to see how it aligns with your prospects’ decision-making process.

To help people buy, be sure that you are prepared to (a) ask questions that help others identify and clarify their needs; (b) answer questions to help people feel comfortable and avoid unnecessary risk; (c) demonstrate how your company and/or position is in a unique position to provide what’s important to your prospect, and; (d) gain commitment each step of the process.

So there you have it. Check yourself on these three attributes. Be honest. Develop these three, critical attributes and notice how your own success rate is enhanced!

To your success.

Image courtesy of watiporn at freedigitalphotos.net

3 tips to help you avoid the transaction sales mistake

A common mistake we’ve heard recruiters make is the error of turning a conversation with a prospect or candidate into a transaction. Transaction sales are a part of selling, of course. Whenever you make a purchase of a commodity based on price alone, you are engaging in a transaction sale.

shopping card on keyboard wc

Transactions are pretty straightforward and often don’t require any sales person to assist you in the purchasing decision. Examples of common transaction sales would be buying common household items — including toasters and cleaning supplies. In a business environment, transaction sales might include buying paper and filing supplies. Transactions often are simple, straightforward purchases that are almost always based on the lowest cost.

In transaction sales, a salesperson is not only unnecessary — he or she might even be perceived as a nuisance or an obstacle when making a transaction purchase. Can you imagine someone from WalMart consulting with you as you are shopping for toothpaste or mouthwash that was on sale?

Unfortunately, many recruiters unintentionally turn conversations with prospects and candidates into transactions. When that happens, you will almost certainly drive a “price-based” decision. In recruiting, that means you will almost always be very quickly in a conversation about the salary. Transaction sales in recruiting are bound to begin — and often end — “all about the money“.

Huge decisions — like career moves — are not “transaction sales“. They are often complex decisions that take time and even may involve more than one person in the decision-making process.  This type of sale requires a consultative/value sales model, not a transaction model.

Here are three tips to help you avoid turning your conversation into a transaction.

Tip #1: Know how to identify value early on your calls

Start by asking great questions that help you identify a clear and concise list of the items that are of value to your prospect. Of course salary is probably on the list somewhere, but don’t assume it’s the only item of value.

When you begin your conversation by identifying and developing value, you actually set the tone of the call as consultative, rather than transactional. You set the expectation that you are interested in looking at the total picture of what is important to your prospect. For some people, you might find they value work-life balance. For others, it might be opportunities to work as part of a great team. By starting in this manner, you set the tone for future conversations — including possible salary negotiations — as you move further along.

Tip #2: Develop your skill at shifting conversation from transaction to value

Sooner or later, as a recruiter, you will likely encounter salary objections. Unless you have the good fortune of always being the highest paying employer — or always talking with prospects who are uninterested in salary — you will probably have to manage salary objections.

If you do a lot of cold calling to identify passive candidates, you will need to be skilled at quickly shifting conversations from transactions to consultative/value conversations. In order to do this, be sure you have brushed up on your skills at managing common objections. Do you know what to say if they start with “…show me the money?”

There are a several great techniques to help you turn this conversation from transaction to value, including the turn-around question. If it’s been a while since you’ve attended training on managing salary objections, it’s a great idea to invest in your development. If not, you will almost certainly find yourself in an unfortunate transaction.

Tip #3: Align what’s of value to your prospect with what you can offer

Finally, be sure to show your prospects how your specific opportunity or company delivers the things that are of value to them. Afterall, that’s how they will make the decision – based on what is valuable.

To create urgency and deepen the motivation to shift from “status quo”, be sure to have a set of great “implication questions” to help your prospects see the downsides of not moving forward. Again, if it’s been a while since you’ve had some good training on questioning skills — especially power questioning — this is a great time to invest. People naturally resist change; however, skilled sales professionals know how to use questioning and listening to get prospects to move forward.

In recruiting, it’s no different. Skilled recruiters know how to use sales skills to help focus and move prospects forward using solid consultative selling skills.

The difference between winners and those who come in second: Part 2 (of 3)

In last week’s blog (Part 1 of 3), we looked at “connecting.” In this post (Part 2 of 3) let’s look at “convincing” 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”.

success and failure wc


In the RAIN study of more than 700 sales calls, the winners were adept at persuading buyers that they would actually achieve worthwhile results (with the vendors’ solutions). They helped minimize risk by building trust and confidence and demonstrating solid experience.

In the study, those who were able to effectively convince buyers were also less likely to encounter a “no decision” or lose out to competitors. When able to effectively convince, the winning sellers in the study solidified their position as the only viable solution worth considering.

Winning sellers were able to define and effectively communicate the value the buyer would realize by purchasing this product or service.

Implication for recruiting

As we look a little deeper into the skill of convincing, there are some key implications for recruiters. First, it’s worth noting that convincing involves helping your prospects or candidates feel confident in your ability to “deliver on what you are promising”. To inspire confidence, you must be skillful at asking great questions that help you understand what’s of value to your candidate or prospect. And you must be an attentive, interested and curious listener. You won’t be able to convince anyone (especially your passive prospects) if they don’t think you have taken time to adequately understand what’s most important to them.

So often the temptation is to sell too quickly. In this case, if you go into “pitch mode” without building trust in your ability to have the best interest of the other person at heart, you won’t be very convincing. Your prospects – especially your passive candidates – will sniff you out as “just another recruiter”. And once you become a commodity you will have a very, very difficult time of recovering.

Second, you need to help your prospect or candidate think through key factors associated with making a big decision – like a career move. Sometimes, people just need someone who can help them see a decision from all angles and raise important questions – as well as avoid possible pitfalls.

Nothing inspires trust and respect like being honest and open about your opportunities. You won’t convince anyone if they think you are more interested in “closing an open REQ” or getting a “big commission” than you are in helping a person make a great, informed decision. Afterall, people want to minimize risk when it comes to career decisions, and your ability to help them process the decision goes a long way to inspiring trust – and to helping you become more convincing.

Your prospects are going to want to do everything they can to avoid (or at least minimize) risk. No pain, no change, as they always say. However, if the risks of change seem too high, your prospects will resign themselves to “living with pain”.

Third, it’s important to not just be persuasive – but to do so with passion and conviction. Once you have instilled confidence and built a trusting relationship with your prospect or candidate, you need to “sell the vision” with enthusiasm. For example, have some encouraging and positive stories handy – stories of others who were just like your prospect and who achieved success. Don’t hold back when it comes to painting the picture of the bright future that awaits your prospect.

Sell with energy, paying particular attention to carefully aligning what you are describing with what’s most important to your prospect. A powerful vision, along with trust and respect, can be highly convincing and persuasive.

And finally, do your homework about your competition. Know how you stand, competitively speaking. Be ready to address common objections and be diligent in asking great questions about other opportunities your prospect or candidate may be evaluating.

In the study, winners were twice as likely to be able to create the perception that the overall value they offer beat the competitors. The second-place finishers didn’t create that perception. Again, when you think of developing perception of “overall value” you need to be highly tuned into what is important to your prospect. Begin with your understanding of what is of value, then keep aligning your opportunity or company with what’s of value to your prospect.

In Part 3 I will unpack the third level that distinguishes winners from second-place finishers: collaborating.