Last week I posted a blog about the landline phone and how I thought its days as a major business communication tool were numbered. It got a lot of views and comments, for which I am most thankful. Interestingly the comments shifted from the use of the phone to the future of selling, and certainly divided opinion. There were 2 comments in particular that I found interesting:
“65 calls a day with x percent being effective” raises the question of what is effective. I suspect effective in this context means an instant sale or at least a warm lead to follow up. But these sales and leads are to people who are easily susceptible to influence, often from people who don’t have the balls to hang up on their telephone tormenter. They are a quick fix. Very few will become long term sustainable customers. That’s why you have to keep a permanent telesales team; to compensate for high customer churn.
If telesales created long term sustainable relationships by definition they would not need to exist – but they do, albeit as a dying breed. They will become extinct as increasing numbers of companies latch on to the fact that there are far better ways to build proper lasting relationships with their future customers by leveraging new communications technologies and brand building.
Sales is dying. The future is all about creating and maintaining relationships that will make your future customers come and find you rather than you trying to hunt them down in packs”
(Jon Weedon – Internal Communications Manager, Betfair)
“I would be more willing to returning a phone message by email rather than a cold call. I am very busy and it also gives me a chance to research before the call”
(Chris Frede – Human Resources Partner, Fleishman-Hillard)
I have highlighted these 2, not just because they are great comments, but because they are from 2 people who are clearly potential client contacts for most recruiters.
One thing that I have learned, from fax to e-mail, from exclusive briefings to PSLs and CV races, is that once clients start wanting things to be done in a different way then the game changes.
There are 4 main things that I believe will drive the change in recruitment sales:
1) The future will be about relationships. I happen to agree with Jon that telesales is NOT the way to building lasting, mutually beneficial business relationships. I don’t even rate it as a door opener to long lasting relationships. It’s a fast food fix that leaves you needing something more very soon afterwards. Real lasting business relationships will be built on trust, knowledge and competence, not quick fixes.
2) Social Media offers a transparency that hasn’t existed before. When a client contact gets a call from a recruiter they can look them up on LinkedIn whilst they’re on the phone. They can see who they are, where they work, what their experience is and who recommends them. If the recruiter leaves a message, then as Chris says, she can do research.
3) We are all connected now. Clients, candidates, recruiters, suppliers all able to connect, engage, share and learn. In the future there’ll be no hiding place. Poor practice, false promises, exaggerated claims will all be exposed. In my opinion word of mouth, or advocacy, will be key to growing business. Reputation and validation will replace marketing and patter.
4) As you will gather from my last blog, I firmly believe that communication is changing, with relationships built online leading to face to face meetings. The young sales force that will be entering the workplace over the next 5 years will be unlikely to use the phone as a ‘door opener’ in the way that predecessors have. Face to face meetings will still be vital, in fact that generation are socially aware and quite comfortable catching up in person, but it will be the start of the relationship, the initial connection and engagement that will be done differently. No killer lines, no scripts, no closing that sale…just connect, engage, share and meet to build a long lasting, mutually beneficial relationship.
Do you see sales changing? Are you experiencing a shift already, either in approaches you make or approaches you receive?
Clients and HR Professionals – what will work for you in future?
Recruiters – are you planning on varying the approach? Or do you think that you’ll be able to find, develop and transact business in that same old tried and trusted ways?
I’d love to hear what you think.