People hate to be sold...
"Call me on Friday", "You need to talk to Sally in HR", "Send me some information"- do any of these comments sound familiar? What is the most common reason why recruiters hear these comments? Prospects have learned to tell white lies to get off the phone with recruiters because they are used to feeling sales pressure and are afraid of being manipulated. You may have the best of intentions, but because recruiters are often viewed as salespeople, the prospect's defenses are up and they act accordingly.
The problem for many recruiters is that they will often treat the stall tactics of all prospects as if they were qualified prospects. So they send information, call Sally in HR, and call back on Friday. This creates the "chase" scenario and is a major waste of time and effort for the recruiter.
If the prospect does not feel pressured, he or she tends to open up and tell the truth about hiring needs. The recruiter can then assess if there is an opportunity to be of service. Therefore, the objective of your marketing call should be to get to the truth as to whether or not there is both an opportunity to help the potential client (either now or in the future) and an interest in working with you.
But they love to buy.
So how do you create an environment where prospective clients feel free to "buy" from you? The answer: you must diffuse the pressure inherent in the sales process by acting like a consultant rather than a salesperson. If your marketing objective is to find clients that you can truly provide value for, then your prospect will sense this and tend be more open to what you have to say. The key is to let them know early on that you are someone that does business differently than many of the recruiters that they may have dealt with in the past. On the first phone call you could say something like this:
"Before I describe my service to you I'd like to let you know that we don't operate in a sale-sy way. We don't pressure people, we don't close people and we don't chase people. So I want to make sure that you are OK operating this way."
Here are some steps for creating an environment where prospects are open to what you have to offer:
Prospect: "Call me Friday"
Generally recruiters will sense that this is a stall tactic and try to lock down the prospect on a specific time. The prospect senses this and feels pressure and may try to stall some more. Here is a sample script to turn this around:
Recruiter response: "I'd be happy to do that but could I share with you the way we have found to be the most effective method for communication with our clients? We operate on an appointment driven system during each step of the process, meaning that we stay on the calendar each step of the way so that neither of us ends up having to chase the other. Is this workable for you?"
Prospect: "Your fee's are too high"
Recruiter response: "Your right, our fees are higher than many of our competitors. I told you I was not going to put pressure on you and I'm not going to do that now. Would you like for me to explain the value that we provide and to discuss this further or should we wrap things up here?" If you've made a good impression up to here, 90% of them will ask you to continue. Now they have given you permission to sell them further. The 10% who end the call probably had very little interest and you have saved yourself a headache. This response works for any other objection as well.
Prospect: "Send me some information"
Recruiter response: "I'd be happy to do that. We do some evaluation at the beginning of the process as well to make sure it is a fit for both of us so…why don't we exchange information."
Another perspective and example of this process: during an introductory session with a prospective coaching client, I diffuse any pressure that people may feel by setting the framework at the beginning of the call. For example, "Before we get started let me explain how these introductory sessions normally go. First I'm going to talk with you about your goals and challenges and this will take the bulk of our time. After that I'm going to describe how my coaching works and if I think that you could benefit from it and that we would both enjoy working together, I'm going to ask you if you'd like to get started. But as it says on my website, I'm not going to pressure you or try to "close" you. The goal of the call is to find out whether my services are the right fit for you at this time."
In this example, my prospect knows that I'm being direct, ("if I think I can help you I'm going to ask you if you'd like to get started") and at the same time that I'm not going to put any pressure on them. If you set a similar framework during an initial marketing call it will allow your prospect (and you) to relax and just focus on the call.
You've heard it before, "People hate to be sold but they love to buy". So why not ask yourself, "How would I like to be approached?" and see what comes up for you. If you are direct about the fact that you see yourself as a service provider and are not in the business of pressuring or chasing people, clients and prospects will respect you more, offer better referrals, and remember you for their next opening.