Four Reasons why Recruitment Sales is changing

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.

7 thoughts on “Four Reasons why Recruitment Sales is changing

  1. Thanks Mervin for another great Post. Old trusty telephone & web1.0 – but the Cretaceous period in dinosaur terms then..

    The first thought of Recruiters [well some recruiters] in terms of the future, is “where the candidates will be, there, recruiters will need to be also”.

    From 1996 for candidates, that place has been primarily at job boards, browsing static lists of jobs and recruiters at the other end, sitting, hoping and praying that someone, the right one, will find their outbound broadcast message. Now just as candidates lived in that WEB1.0 commonplace , the communications thereafter was largely via static email and inboxes [where zillions of spam also lived. The client persons place of residence however, had remained traditionally on the phone even post 1996 as well – with even some fax in that equation as well..

    The problem happens when something new comes along. How long does it take to adapt and evolve.? Perhaps in some cases, recruiters will start to wonder where the candidates went, emails not returned and no response to JobBoard ads – save for a few Cobol CICS DB2 people perhaps. The SaaS & .NET people will most likely be inbounding to their online profile which will include video and possibly not even a traditional text based CV.

    If the era of WEB1.0 and the mass CV is in the Cretaceous period (we are talking dinosaurs right?). Perhaps there was no chance of adaptation and for some will end swiftly unto extinction through the communications comet called Web2.0 conversation!

    In regards to communication then, recruiters certainly now doubly need to re consider the old ways of broadcasting on the phone or otherwise [as in one way shouting and balling their wares] as this time, both the candidates and client are shifting to the conversation space of Web 2.0, the instant want-it-now messaging and on the move and upwardly mobile in ever increasing definitive digital networks of like minded needs and wants.

    The advent of the mass CV era itself had in that Cretaceous period created an actual environment for less communication and had grown recruiters by culture to be more transactional based – thus some recruiters in this mode will find it hard to build relationships online in the network building of passive candidates – having mostly been in talking mode [broadcasting – not listening] and dealing with primarily masses of ACTIVE candidates responding to static job ads.

    Today’s leaders will indeed have to think about tomorrows communications today ~ if they are to be here tomorrow and as I also discover, many other traditional methods will also need to innovate, not least the effective CV replacement and presentation of it, but change from a recruiter performance perspective, including measuring network communication efficiency as a metric, client equity, candidate currency – not just ‘deals’!

    What fantastic opportunity lies ahead then for all and for the candidate to communicate better, to develop inbound digital tools to attract & engage the ‘right’ candidates and clients. A far better two way conversation experience all round.

    In conclusion I do not see changes happening fast as core revenue streams are still in the old way and there will be a period of transition, training and enlightenment [especially as we pass the hype part]. On the other hand I do not see a future in the old tried and trusted ways indefinitely, as that’s not where candidates and clients will be – but the new communications approach in some cases is certainly showing signs of adaptation.

  2. Excellent Mervyn – I would just like to combine two of your four thoughts:

    Transparent communication

    Also with the advent of the Facebook messaging coming soon, with prioritised messaging, relationships are going to be more important than ever for a recruiter.
    It will important for candidate relationships because otherwise all those ‘combined messages’ will be relegated down the importance list and sit there with no chance of reaching the recipient.


  3. Great post Mervyn. One thing not mentioned, which ties in with all you’ve said, is that recruitment is homogenous – there are very few people out there doing something truly different (hats off to the social recruiters and consultancies out there – I’m in your wake and trying to catch up believe me!) and when everyone is doing the same, how do you prove your value add in a five minute phone call or two paragraph email?

    For me, social media and transparency are key because prospective clients can find out what your current clients think. But equally so are metrics and ROI – most recruiters aren’t measuring the value-add of the people they place 3-6-12-24 months into their time at a new company, many aren’t sure how to. But pitching a clear, concise statement about how 84% of the salespeople you placed have made their first year targets is far better than most of the jargon-strewn drivel out there.

    Use your network, social media, etc to build relationships rather than cold call – but make sure you’ve got something decent to say when a prospect shows interest…

  4. Great post Mervyn – I also think that the more successful recruiters are changing the content of their sales pitches. Recruitment is homogenous and after five calls a day for ten years, VPs and MDs still aren’t interested in hearing jargon-strewn drivel. They want to hear about metrics, ROI, measurable value-add. There are ways of gathering this data but most recruiters aren’t.

    As you say, reputation is key and whether it be through LinkedIn, Twitter, word-of-mouth or otherwise, a good reputation will result in more business. Clients know there are 000s of recruiters out there – but to find the best ones, they’re asking their peers and cheking out social media – not buying into an email about a ‘120,000-strong database’ or a ‘no-nonsense approach to sourcing’…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s