What I’m Looking For at #HRTechConf

I’ll be spending the next few days at the HR Technology Conference – the first time I’ve been able to go.

I’m lucky enough to be part of the blog squad so have been thinking about what new trends and innovations I’ll be looking for.

In recent months I’ve been at a recruiting leaders round table, as well as two FIRM (Forum for Inhouse Recruitment Managers) conferences, and at all three events current recruiting pain points have been discussed. Invariably they are very similar, whichever group of delegates has been bought together. The key ones, unsurprisingly, have been:

ATS – specifically how to get one to do what you want them to do
Creating a positive experience for everyone who applies
Reducing the volume of unsuitable candidates tied in with better screening
Talent pipelines
Improving internal mobility
Difference between generating names and creating candidates
Hiring for potential vs hiring for now

Many of those are linked to technology so wearing my recruiter’s hat I’m going to be looking at how tech suppliers can help ease that pain. And how they can give a better experience to applicants and candidates.

From an HR perspective I’m keen to see how the employee experience can be enhanced. From attraction and nurturing, through on-boarding and performance management to internal collaboration, personal development, promotion and succession, I’ll be interested to see if what works for the employer is also creating a great experience for the workforce. And how technology can help not hinder.

As the level of connectivity, and the demand for an experience that has a positive, shareable impact, all grow it will be interesting to see if technology that offers a streamlined, cost effective and superior service to the company can also create an enhanced experience for the end user – the job seekers, recruiters and employees.

Do Recruiters Need Representing? Or Enlightening?

Here’s a question…who sets the standards in the recruitment agency industry?

The recruitment industry isn’t a profession requiring a qualification or quality badge. It’s a B2B sales business, predominantly made up of a disparate myriad of small owner managed businesses all competing with each other and showing little appetite for collaboration or ethics.

Standards are set by company owners, and their prime motivator is often profit not quality of operation. In the ten years I was supplying recruiters to the industry no-one asked me about the standards to which individuals operated. Their main concerns were fees and transferable client relationships. I was never asked to find someone with a relevant qualification…usually just someone who could sell.

Being a thorough interviewer, or having a string of recommendations from clients and candidates, were irrelevant if there were not billing figures to back them up.

Recruiters who don’t hit their targets are labelled failures. It doesn’t matter if their clients and candidates rate their service highly, and would recommend them… they won’t get hired in the rough, tough recruitment world without those billings. A blank couple of months usually mean a warning or redundancy, no matter if you’re with a member of a trade body or attend some training courses.

So I remain fairy ambivalent towards representative bodies, particularly those who make claims to create standards and set benchmarks. I followed the brouhaha that surrounded the launch of the IOR which still seems to continue – read this insightful blog from SteveWard. Continue reading “Do Recruiters Need Representing? Or Enlightening?”

The Quality of Thinking

When new bloggers ask for advice, I often say ‘it’s not the quality of writing, it’s the quality of thinking’ – I’m sure that people read blogs to be enlightened, to see something that inspires them and gets them to look at things in a different way.

Regular readers of this blog joined me on the journey to find a new job earlier in the year, and I often wrote of my frustrations with companies within the recruiting industry who weren’t looking beyond the traditional methods and ways of thinking. With the challenges that our industry faces to source, attract, retain and develop the right talent, and to service the demands of shifting organisational models, it always struck me as strange that so few owners, directors and managers embraced the possibility of doing things in a different way.

It was the ability to look at the new and unchartered that so excited me about the opportunity with Jobsite UK. I sensed during my talks with them that there was a real passion and desire to bring fresh and innovative thinking to the recruiting industry, whether that was through written or live content, and to be not just the conduit of this but to be at the very heart of the conversation. Continue reading “The Quality of Thinking”

Hire for Attitude, Train for Skills

It’s not a new saying, but whenever it’s used now everyone instantly agrees, it should be a resourcing mantra, particularly in tougher times.

As recruiters we spend most of our time looking for people with a skillset, with a historical CV that ticks the boxes that clients want.

It’s changing.

Job description tick lists are no good, because you will rarely find the people who tick every box, and if you do there is no guarantee that they will succeed.

Past performance can be a very unreliable indicator of future achievement.

I was intrigued to read a blog from Katie McNab – Customers Aren’t Always Right.

Read it! Because she is UK Recruitment Manager for one of the largest FMCG brands on the planet. And she wants her team to challenge hiring managers, forget what may suit them and start looking at what the business needs.

My favourite part is:

A line manager with a team of 5-6 people might recruit once a year.  He or she will have a very short-term goal in mind.  They want someone to fill the “empty chair”. And while they don’t recruit very often, they usually still have some very firm views about what “good” looks like.

But we recruit all the time.  We live and breathe this stuff.   We know our markets, our industries and our legal obligations.  And that gives us the right and the responsibility to challenge line managers on their requirements.

How many 3rd party recruiters challenge a client? We also live and breathe this stuff, but how many of us push back and really help the client to be creative?

Very few I guess.

Are we too scared of losing the brief? Scared of missing a fee? Do we want to just fill empty chairs?

Have we lost the bottle to invest time in building credibility with the client by bringing some real INSIGHT to the process? Because that’s how long-term relationships are developed.

Ah yes, INSIGHT.

If you read my last blog you’ll know that the good people from LinkedIn said that the number one priority for a 3rd party recruiter focusing on maintaining some form of market position is Insight over Data.

I would grab this as an opportunity to forget searching for historical CVs and start looking for real talent, with real potential and real attitude.

Clients use us because we can give them an insight to the market, a window onto the world of potential talent that is available, either actively or passively.

So stop giving them what they can find themselves…and start finding people that they can’t.

Rarely a day goes by without talk of a skill shortage…and most recruiters nod compliantly and see this as an opportunity…but an opportunity for what?

If the skills aren’t there, then they aren’t there. So instead of acquiescing, and firing out dozens of headhunt calls, and placing numerous online job ads, just STOP!

Remember Katie’s hypothetical example?

Given the choice of a solid Brand Manager from a global competitor or the owner of a small start up who has managed to launch a fantastic product with limited resources, and really creative solutions… I think the managers would instinctively lean towards one option. And I think the business as a whole would lean in the other direction.

3rd party recruiters need to be able to offer the same approach, the same confidence…and the same INSIGHT.

Stop looking for skills and start looking for attitude…then let the best companies take care of the upskilling.

One Source To Rule Them All?

I’ve sensed for some time that the game is changing for 3rd party recruiters. The industry has gorged for too long on easy fees and low value offerings and this has led to a lack of agility, an inability to invent, create and lead.

Ask any capable recruiter to name their main competition and they will reel off a number of companies who they battle against for the best briefs and candidates.

Rarely will they say LinkedIn. They see the platform as a tool that they may be able to use when they have the time, a source of candidates and vacancies, and a directory of soft headhunt targets.

Not sure how many see it as a primary resource for clients.

Clearly though, with each addition to functionality and capability being aimed solely at the corporate market, the platform has the ability marginalise any traditional transactional permanent recruiter.

On Tuesday I attended the Stepstone Solutions Summit 2010 on the Changing Face of Talent Management. I covered the event for UK Recruiter, and you can read my review of the event here

During the afternoon we had a presentation from LinkedIn. They shared some research findings which certainly captivated an audience of 200 HR and Talent professionals…the very people that most 3rd party recruiters spend their working life trying to connect and build relationships with.

The main points were:

1)      Most corporate recruiters worry that their competitors will learn to use social recruiting better than they do and build better talent pools

2)      Biggest focus for corporate recruiters at the moment is to reduce spend on 3rd party recruiters/staffing agencies. Second biggest focus is to boost referral programmes.

3)      Corporate development resources are now channelled on training in-house recruiters to find the best talent and on measuring quality of hire.

4)      What’s next for LinkedIn? To increase investment in tools THAT INCREASE VALUE TO CORPORATE CUSTOMERS.

They admitted that the outlook was bleak for 3rd party recruiters unless they could show clear differentiation and additional value. Key to this would be:

–          Insight over data

–          Understanding brand equity

–          Creating real depth to relationships

The point that left the most lasting impression was what was referred to as ‘the end of the walled garden’. No more proprietary databases, deconstruct the talent pools, and crowdsource what you need.

I’ve reported those points fairly factually, because that’s how the audience heard them.

An audience who, as I mentioned before, are probably currently dealing with, and certainly getting business development calls from, a number of 3rd parties.

Clearly LI are in selling mode, and I don’t doubt for one moment that their presentations are aimed very much at stimulating a compelling reason for corporates to use them.

Yet I don’t believe that any recruitment agency could have given that presentation. We no longer have the credibility or legitmacy. To address a talent management conference and present staffing sector findings, insights and future developments, in such a powerful way requires a commitment to innovation and a belief in the strength, ubiquity and robustness of your service that I am not sure recruiters can muster.

Change will come I’m sure, but as I wrote in a recent blog, we’re now playing catch up. I left the conference with another 200 potential hiring managers who now will wonder why they aren’t doing more themselves, how they can reduce agency spend and how well they need to ‘do’ social recruiting.

The ray of hope is that we will begin to offer insight, knowledge and value. Make the service less transactional and more about the quality of hire, less about the size of the fee.

Be a key resource, not part of the crowdsource.

At the moment though, there looks like could be one source to rule them all…and it’s LinkedIn not us.

Let me know what you think.

Money For Old Rope??

“How can recruiters find candidates that the corporates can’t find themselves?”

That tweet caught my eye yesterday. I think it emanated from a TruAmsterdam chat, I don’t know who said it or the context but it stood out and really got me thinking…Why ask that now??

Why haven’t recruiters been asking this kind of question for years?

Surely that’s what recruiters should always do…find talent that clients can’t find for themselves.

The flipside of this would be to say that recruiters are too used to offering clients a route to market that the client could use themselves. Which is of course mainly true.

Job board advertising, CV databases…all very well, but why?? Surely a client has always been able to utilise those for themselves?

Unfortunately it’s been too easy for too long for most 3rd party recruiters…take a brief, advertise the role, wait for response, blow the dust off a few database CVs…and charge a fee.

Money for old rope? Harsh, but looking at it from a client’s viewpoint you may ask where the value is.

Having said that, clients themselves have often been complicit in allowing this to happen, but the times they are a-changing…

Clients are doing it for themselves

Recruiters are now trying to use LinkedIn more, but guess what…they’ve missed the boat! Clients are already starting to use it…and LinkedIn themselves are offering functionality and capabilities that are ONLY for the corporate market. A corporate recruiter will now probably be able to find a much stronger shortlist than a third party using LinkedIn.

Barely a day passes without another blog or article criticising the attitudes and behaviours of 3rd party recruiters, and you can’t deny that we often give them an easy target.

In the last couple of days we’ve had ’12 Lies Recruiters Like to Tell’ by Christine Livingston and ‘I Strongly Dislike Recruiters’ by Veronica Ludwig. There was also had a long piece in Recruiter Magazine which further drove a wedge between agency and in-house recruiters, painting them as two tribes with different views, attitudes, aims and rewards. My colleague Andy Young responded to that with the excellent ‘It’s not WHERE you work, it’s HOW’

We seem to be here on a weekly basis. I wrote recently about the sales model and how it was responsible for so many of the behaviours that annoy clients and candidates and had the usual range of responses from believers and deniers.

In reality there seems to be a real ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ attitude and unfortunately the measure of ‘broke’ isn’t customer satisfaction but bank balances.

The belief seems that it makes money, and if it makes money it must be right. New offerings, which are invariably old offerings with new price models, are aimed at cost and speed, not really with providing a better or different experience or building long term relationships.

There seems little appetite for re-invention. We hear talk of communities, talent pools & puddles, social sourcing, but ultimately most 3rd party recruiters are remunerated and incentivised to place as many people as possible, whilst their employers look for the cheapest, quickest routes to market.

So what are we really doing that’s different?

What do most 3rd party recruiters offer clients that they couldn’t do for themselves?

How are we adding VALUE?

Let me know your thoughts.

Blogs mentioned above:

It’s not WHERE you work, it’s HOW

12 Lies Recruiters Like to Tell

I Strongly Dislike Recruiters

Making the Switch

It’s a Beautiful Noise…

I was watching a documentary about Neil Diamond on Saturday night and he was talking about his song Beautiful Noise, and how the idea came from his daughter listening to a parade and hearing all the different music which merged together to form a beautiful sound.

This resonated with me, as earlier that day I had been reading some really strong posts from new bloggers, and was really impressed with the way so many of the new bloggers, from different backgrounds and viewpoints, were reaching out and really making a difference, writing some interesting and thought provoking stuff.

We talk about white noise on social media, but when people dig deep and make this kind of effort to give us a different insight into our day to day interactions, then this is really a Beautiful Noise.

There were three people in particular that made a difference to me this weekend and I think they all deserve a big mention and a wider audience. Each one shines a different light on the power of social media and how it can be used to inform and transform.

Firstly, Alison Chisnell. She is an HR Director who came along to the ConnectingHR unconference and was clearly bitten by the social media bug. She has been a willing participant in the ConnectingHR community and is there for our weekly #chrchat. On Friday she posted about her efforts to get her company interested in using social media for communication. Not only did she write this on her blog, but she then posted the Pecha Kucha presentation that she used.

Wow! No nerves, no trepidation, just reaching out to the community with her thoughts and ideas. Jumping in and being part of the conversation.

HR professionals in the UK have tended to be slow adopters of social media, but with ambassadors like Alison I am convinced that the conversion will be quicker.

The second blog that really hit home was from @recruitgal – she is a UK Recruitment Manager with a major global brand and a new blogger. What did she write about? How not to do Cold Calls. A really informative and entertaining blog, and as a third party recruiter this is a great resource. Clearly she is frustrated by some of the approaches that she gets.

A potential client contact telling us how not to approach her. What more could you want? How else could you have got this information? I know that recruiters are not exactly welcoming of potential clients telling them what’s wrong with the industry, but seriously…how can you argue with an in-house recruitment manager telling you how not to try and do business with her. The blog is there…available through social media…no need to cold call to try and get a conversation.

Finally, and most heart warmingly, my friend Sarah Knight. Some of you may already be aware of her quest to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and raise money for a very worthy charity. Some may have even seen another UK HR blogger use his own blog to help raise £1000 in sponsorship for her…and have also read her blog of thanks. For me, her story epitomises everything that is good about social media connections, and how the willingness to engage and share goes way beyond trying to sell your latest product or service.

I have now met her twice socially, and spoken to her on the phone a few times. I didn’t know her before we connected on Twitter, yet there is little doubt that we are now ‘friends’. I encouraged her to start blogging about her quest, have offered my support when things were getting tough, and we are both part of a small Twitter community of people who have pulled together to encourage and inspire her.

So here’s my beautiful noise for this week…

Alison Chisnell – read about how she has tried to transform her company’s attitude towards social media – Practical ideas for becoming more social…and keeping it simple – and watch the presentation that she used – HR becoming social

Katie McNab ( @Recruitgal ) – find out what does and doesn’t work when you are trying to sell to a recruitment manager form a global brand – A cold calling masterclass…how not to do it

Sarah Knight – see how social media really works…if you work with someone who thinks it’s for geeks and nerds then get them to read it too – @theHRD…I thank you

Hope you enjoy reading them…let me know who’s making a beautiful noise for you this week?

It’s The Sales Model, Stupid!!

Whatever the industry cheerleaders will have you believe, there can be little doubt that the recruitment sector is facing critical problems that whilst not terminal, could be very damaging. Threats from direct sourcing, downward pressure on fees and timescales, upward pressure on candidate and regulatory volumes, increasing service demands and expectations from clients and candidates, and the advocacy that social media brings enabling poor practice and experience to be communicated widely and quickly, will inevitably create burdens that many underfunded, complacent, inflexible recruiters will struggle to see off.

The debate has raged again in the blogosphere this week with a quite stark view from @theHRD on this blog. Needless to say, it attracted opinion on both sides, and the debate immediately moved to figures and semantics…always a stifler to any argument of ideas, ideals and passion.

Only a few commentators picked up on the obvious fact…this piece was written by a client. The HR Director of a fairly major (so we believe) business who would almost certainly a ‘sales’ target for pretty much every 3rd party recruiter in the UK and here he was telling the industry that the party was over, the days of high volumes and big bonus cheques were probably  disappearing fast…and what was the initial reaction?

To disagree with him!

Can you think of any other industry in which a customer telling you that your offering is poor, outdated and no longer does what is wanted would be told that he was wrong??

Me neither!

I wouldn’t mind but the industry prides itself on being a sales led industry…and what is one of the first things a trainee salesman learns?  Don’t say ‘yes, but’! You don’t win business from someone by disagreeing with them and telling them they’re wrong.

But then optimism, whether unfounded or real, is a key driver for a sales business.

So what’s the main thing wrong with recruitment industry in my opinion?

It’s the transactional sales model!!

It’s been unchanged for 50 years and there seems no appetite to change it now. Not when it’s made many people wealthy in the past. I can’t think of another business sector that has a standard operating model that has been unchanged for so long.

Before I go on, let me try and establish a case for having such a strong opinion on this. It’s not just thrown together! I have been a billing recruiter, month after month, for over 20 years. I spent a number of those years placing recruiters, during which time I must have interviewed at least 3000 experienced and trainee recruiters and sat in well over 500 client meetings where I have been briefed by directors/managers of agencies on their requirements, culture, values and goals.

When you look at the recruiter behaviours that most annoy candidates and clients I believe they can all be traced back to the transactional sales model. So let’s consider a few inconvenient truths about the sales model. For starters…

It makes the recruitment process all about the fee and not about the person.

Yep, it sure does. Number one target for any recruiter is fees. Don’t bring in the fees; you don’t keep your job. In fact I can think of few business sectors in which an employee can have a clause in their employment contract which states that failure to meet targets for 2 consecutive months will lead to a written warning. I have seen these contracts and people sign them. Unbelievable short-termism. Similarly I cannot think of another industry in which an employee can be told that they are now on a commission only deal, and if they don’t like it they can leave. Yep, I’ve seen that too. In fact I’ve heard directors talk of having done it. In a tough market, with pressures on all sides, those fees have to be made…and when your job could be at stake, that’s quite a pressure.

There’s no money in candidate experience.

Damn right there’s not! (Irony alert) Well, there’s not if you’re measured on fees, jobs bought in, interviews, CVs submitted, and interviews gained with client. Why spend an hour interviewing someone you can’t place in a job this month? Why spend a few minutes ringing back candidates who have applied but aren’t relevant? Get on the phone…find a new vacancy or find a candidate you can place. This isn’t a guess on my part…it’s something I have been told many times by recruiters.

As I’ve blogged before, in my company we have a team who speak to every single candidate who applies for a role. They don’t have targets. A year on I have still to find another recruitment business that understands the value in a candidate facing team that have no fee or activity targets.**

No time for feedback.

I blogged about this last year…inspired mainly by a comment from a recruiter in another business who told a candidate chasing feedback “To be fair if we spent all day phoning people who were ‘no’, which we’d like to do because it’s the ‘experience’ as much as anything that counts, we simply would go bust”. So there you have it from the horse’s mouth. No money in feedback…get back on that phone and cold call. If you spend time talking to unsuccessful candidates you’ll go out of business.

Inappropriate and poorly matched CVs sent to clients.

Another metric favoured by agencies is number of send outs. It also pays to send as many CVs as possible, in case a competitor sends the candidate over. More CVs may also get you more chance of interviews…it’s all a numbers game. And it’s sticking to the numbers that will keep you in your job.

I could go on, but that’s enough for now.

None of this should come as a surprise to regular readers. My first ever blog was about how I believed that tomorrow’s recruiter should be incentivised on feedback not fees. I’ve recently blogged on how business communication is changing and how business to business sales is changing.

This isn’t an anti recruitment industry rant. Anyone who was at the last Recruiters Networking evening would have heard me debate passionately in support of the industry. It’s the way we operate that needs to change. The transactional sales model rewards behaviours that have gradually dragged us in to disrepute…which is probably the biggest inconvenient truth of all.

I am also lucky enough to work within a business that rewards on client and candidate feedback and is prepared to invest in areas that do not lead to immediate fees, but provide a service and experience to the candidates and clients who use us.

At least the recruitment industry apologists all seem to agree that behaviours have to change…but my question would be how…without changing the operating model? You can’t change the way people behave without changing the way they are rewarded and motivated, and they way that their performance is measured.

I just scanned some online ads for recruiters and picked up these essential qualities:

‘Successful candidates will have a good academic background, but most importantly will be focused on entering a target driven environment where there is the opportunity for rapid career progression as well as significant earning potential within the first 12 months’

‘You must be hardworking, driven and determined with a strong aspiration to make a lot of money and a desire for success’

‘The role is a traditional recruitment position involving, winning, maintaining and developing business. You will do this in a mature environment and have the ability to work both autonomously and also as part of a team’

‘You will not be afraid to pick up the phone and enjoy business development as this is a key part of the role’

‘You will be a graduate with some sales experience’

These people will be looking after your careers and recruitment processes.

Reading that lot, I can’t see behaviours changing anytime soon…can you?

** Previous posts mentioned are:

Incentivising Tomorrow’s recruiters – it’s Feedback, not Fees

No transferability, No feedback…Candidates have feelings too

The End of the Phone?

Four reasons why recruitment sales is changing

Candidate Care – do you value your currency

To CV or Not To CV

I posed a question on Twitter last week to in house recruiters and HR professionals:

In-House recruiters/HR Pros…would you interview someone purely from a LinkedIn profile or social media footprint? Without a physical CV?

Reason was that I had met a really strong candidate who had not yet prepared an up to date CV and I wanted a client to meet her straight away…I wondered if a LinkedIn profile and my notes and impressions would suffice.

My Twitter question started an interesting debate; here are some of the answers:

‘No, would definitely back up the Linked In profile with a physical CV’

‘Depends how comprehensive their profile was’

‘Possibly – think I would want to see their CV at some point, but would organise an interview on the back of their linked in profile’

Yes definitely, at least for first stage / informal conversation’

‘Not generally. Might speak, engage and arrange interview based on the Social Media footprint but likely to want CV before the interview’

‘I still prefer to see a “real” CV before setting up an interview’

‘A full Linked In profile is coming closer and closer to a classic CV. But I like it when a candidate shows interest by sending me something’

‘Depends on the strength of the profile. Always suspicious of some recommendations I see though

‘I would likely have a conversation with someone without a CV, but would still want a formal presentation before going further

Clearly there was belief that a physical CV is still important…but why??

I can understand some form of a CV being needed if there was no other way of establishing a candidate’s background, but I was intrigued that clientside recruiters would still want a CV even if there was information about the candidate publicly available through social media.

My immediate thoughts were…

–          Does the physical CV act as a kind of filter? It’s almost an excuse. It enables you to read and reject a candidate because ‘they don’t seem to have the right experience’. But previous experience isn’t always the best indicator of future performance. A physical, or ‘real’, CV tells you little about the candidate’s personality, motivators, passions, presence, capabilities or potential.

–          If the candidate has a full profile on Linked In then still this isn’t enough. There’s a picture, summary of skills and qualities, experience, career history, education and interests. Hopefully there will be some references too. And that’s not all…there will be groups of which they are a member, connections, links to other social media platforms they use. There will, in fact, be lots of things that may not be on a physical CV. Yet we still don’t seem to ‘trust’ it…even though it is probably harder to ‘mislead’ on a public platform than in a private document.

–          Even if we interview someone based on their social media ‘footprint’ we still want to see a physical CV before moving to the next stage. Somehow this legitimises their application, shows that they are taking the application seriously. But how about the effort they may put into creating and maintaining their LI profile, their blogs, their Twitter stream…this shows a different kind of commitment but one that may be even more important to their future success in a new role.

I’ve seen a lot written about the ‘death’ of the CV recently…both from those who agree and those who don’t.  Clearly most hirers expect to see some form of CV so it may be a bit early for the last rites.

Wherever you look there are coaches, tutors, consultants, gurus and experts offering advice to jobseekers on how to create, maintain and promote their online profiles to ensure maximum exposure. They are told to use the full range of platforms and tools at their disposal.

Yet even though they may be found, and found because they have the skills, knowledge and potential that a future employer may be looking for, they still need to present a CV which may actually be less impressive than the information that already exists about them.

So I’m asking again…would you interview, and consider hiring, someone who didn’t have a physical CV, but who had an active social media profile which told you more about them than a physical CV might??

Let me know what you think…

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.