June 18, 2018

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Placement Purgatory: How to Resolve Deal Impediments

How do we determine what issues are holding our deals back from continuing forward?

I felt like banging my head against the wall. My candidate had gone all this way with my client and then, right before the offer phase, just stopped returning my messages, emails and even texts. I was in placement purgatory and there was no obvious way out of this mess. If only I had uncovered the deal impediments a few weeks earlier, then I probably would have ascertained if those issues were either deal killers or deal complicators.

Deal killers: issues that are unresolvable and will keep your deal from going forward. They are non-negotiable variables that serve as constant reminders that some deals are not meant to close.

Deal complicators: issues that can be resolved allowing the deal to close.

There is a reason why your candidate is hesitating and not going forward with your client. If only you knew what those impediments were. If you did, then you could manage the information and gain agreement for the candidate to proceed all the way over the finish line.

How do we determine what issues are holding our deals back from continuing forward?

Think of your potential placement, or deal, as a living entity with its own agenda and its own set of goals. In the world of executive search / headhunting / recruiting / staffing, the deal is what we live for: seeking to find and bring double closure to the mutual satisfaction of needs between two parties. This results in a candidate joining your clientís organization. And itís the only way you get paid.

Your job, once you recruit and submit a potentially qualified candidate whose career motivations line up with your clientís strategy, is to bring that deal over the finish line with everyone popping champagne corks and singing your praises. Yeah, you are the rock star. Congratulations, champ.

Back to reality: we have work to do, and your work at this point is to identify those variables that will derail your deal. How do you uncover them?

Questions are your tools that allow you to illuminate potential deal killers and deal complicators. Remember that binary closed-ended questions (yes/no) are tools to move things forward, and that open-ended questions (who/what/when/where/why/how) are used to gather information.

I recommend using some sort of a classical sales closing question as a way to put subtle pressure on the candidate so that it forces a response. If the response is yes or no, then we have achieved our objective. (NOTE: Iím not talking about used car sales pressure. Iím talking about a legitimate dialogue that gives the candidate no other option but to make a decision and reveal their hand so that you can move it forward).

For example, ask some of these questions to the candidate:

What is it that is keeping you from going forward?

If you accepted the offer, would there be anything that would keep you from starting with my client?

What is your interest level on a scale of 1 Ė 10, with 10 meaning you are most interested?

Do you want to join my clientís company?

Lois Creamer, who has coached me in my training business in the past, always would tell me this: ďIf you are going to lose out on something, lose out earlier in the process, not at the end.Ē We should utilize that same perspective when assessing the likelihood of a candidate going forward through our placement process. If you follow this advice, youíll know exactly what is going on the mind of your candidate and youíll never have to worry about banging your head on the wall again.

Scott Love is an expert on influence and high level selling. In addition to running a successful legal search firm, he is a popular keynote speaker at sales meetings for all types of sales organizations. Companies that want to increase their influence with high-level prospects hire him to speak at their sales meetings and conventions. To learn more how you can gain more influence with high-level clients, visit his website at

Copyright © 2015 Scott Love