July 19, 2018

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'Dude Where's My Client?'

Youíve been there before. You spent weeks and weeks recruiting on an assignment and you are sitting there scratching your head wondering why your client doesnít call you back from any of the three messages you have left him.

Remember the first cardinal rule of human behavior? ďPeople only do what is in their own best interests.Ē If that red-hot client turned into a lukewarm message-returner, then thereís some sort of reason why he isnít calling you back.

Two pieces of advice: First, before you ever begin the search, test the viability of your likelihood of actually making a placement by looking at the quiz on my site - - itís called the Search Assessment Instrument. You can take five minutes to save five weeks by scoring your client on variables that must be considered before making your first candidate recruit call.

Second: If you have spent time on the search and have candidates that you want to present and youíve left three messages (and assuming you know that he is not on vacation, not traveling, nor going through a medical emergency), then leave a message that goes something like this:

ďBob, I know you said a few weeks ago that if I came across a (position title) that you would want to interview with them quickly. I finished the candidate recruitment phase of my search and have three viable candidates who I think you would get excited about. If I donít hear from you by Friday at noon (two or three days away) Iíll just assume that the positionís been filled and will tell them that and will release them; and if I can ever help you again in the future, please donít hesitate to call.Ē

If the client is still interested, heíll call you. If heís already filled the position, he wonít. Either way, youíll have your answer.

I told a recruiter this once and he asked me, ďBut wonít your clients get mad at you if you leave that sort of message?Ē

Does it really matter at this point? They donít seem to be a good client if theyíre not returning calls. Youíre already not getting business from them, so what does it matter? If they get mad, then they can get mad at some other recruiter whoís going to waste their time turning over rocks trying to feed a monkey that isnít even hungry anymore. Why would a client get mad if (a) youíve covered the market and have brought them three possible solutions to their problem and (b) youíve left the professional courtesy of three messages with nary a return phone call? Seriously, I doubt a client will get mad. More than likely, theyíll be embarrassed. Itís not like youíre trying to guilt-trip them into compliance. Youíre just giving them a deadline.

Always assume the benefit of the doubt and respond gracefully when they do call you back. If the client is busy and slow to respond, then you need to address this issue. ďBob, I understand youíre busy. But I want you to know that I pace the rhythm of my search work based on the priorities of my clients, and if it doesnít seem like a priority to you, then I canít make it one as well. But if it is, then Iíll put you at the very front burner of my desk. All I ask for in return (principle of reciprocity) is that you return my calls on the same day or the next day. Thatís because (always say this to increase compliance) the only time Iíll ever need to talk to you is if (1) I need more information on the search, and (2) I have a candidate with an expiration date who can solve your problem, and I would really hate for you to lose out on someone so rare and valuable (principle of scarcity). Are you okay with that, Bob?Ē Always tell people why it will benefit them to increase the probabilities of compliance. And in this phrasing, the reasons for them to call you back are all about them, them, them, not you, you, you. They donít care if you might lose out on a fee. They donít care about your manager breathing down your back so donít even go there with them. Go there with how their quick response will benefit them.

Remember that the recruiting game is a game of probabilities and is more about influence than control. Leverage these principles to your advantage and see how easier it is to lead your clients through the process which ultimately benefits them.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Love

Scott Love is a leading authority in the field of executive search and high level selling. In addition to working as a high-stakes headhunter for Washington law firms, he is a popular keynote speaker at sales meetings for all types of recruiting and sales organizations. Companies that want more influence with 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