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Knowing Where To Tap: 3 Messages That Matter for Building Value With a Customer

by
Maureen Sharib
Apr 30, 2012, 7:01 am ET

There are three messages that need to be conveyed to a customer early in a prospective sourcing transaction.

Most sourcers never discuss these concepts that are directly linked to building the value of your services and obtaining exclusivity of your services in the future.

The three messages that matter are:

  1. All sourcers are not the same.
  2. It really matters who represents a customer’s interests.
  3. My market knowledge and search skills are superior to other sourcers.

Let’s look at each of these messages that matter:

All Real Sourcers Are Not the Same

One of the primary messages used by inferior sourcers and discounting agents is that we are all the same; that there is essentially no difference between Best Sourcers and other sourcers.

We need to convey that each sourcer offers a different “type” of service and applies different techniques to deliver that service.

One sourcer may employ an Internet-only level of service and experience, while another uses an Internet “checked” by phone level of service while still another employs a telephone sourcing service that might use the Internet for initial research but essentially relies primarily on the telephone to generate names and information.

Another level of sourcing service may be the provision of competitive information about a target (or targets) along with the sourced names. This add-on may be offered by any of the sourcers just mentioned.

You want to create a clear distinction between what you do and what other sourcers do. An analogy outside of sourcing that illustrates service and quality differentials is highly effective. Car comparisons are easy to use because car companies have spent lavishly building their brands differentiating themselves out of the pack.

You could use your first (or second) meeting with the prospective customer to push this differentiation message across. Let it be known that because you want the customer to be delighted with your service, the two of you should take the time to go over these differences and understand exactly the level of excellent service you can provide.

Like this: “There is a tremendous difference in the sourcers you can work with. Each sourcer operates differently and these differences ultimately deliver differing results. I’d like to spend some time with you up front to clearly understand your objectives and needs to ensure a successful relationship between us. Does that make sense?”

It Really Matters Who Represents a Customer’s Interests

In this section, you are building the value of your service and moving it away from the guy looking up “names” on the Internet and channeling them (unchecked) to the customer.

A Best Sourcer knows this is the least valuable part of a sourcing service.

Any sourcer with access can enter a Boolean string into the keyboard of a computer and generate a LinkedIn (or job board’s) list of names.

Heck, you don’t even need a sourcer to do that anymore the way Internet sourcing has become automated!

Borrowing a story from the author of the article that inspired me to write this post:

There is a story about a senior executive who was having problems with his computer. They called in their technology expert to fix his problem. The technology expert looked at the computer diagnostically for a few minutes. He then reached into his briefcase for a small hammer; he tapped on the computer three times, and it was fixed. He then handed a bill to the senior executive for $500.

The executive said, “I won’t pay this; you were only here five minutes. That’s outrageous! I want you to itemize this bill.” The technology expert then itemized the bill. It read: “Two dollars for tapping on the computer and $498 for knowing where to tap!”

What you tell the customer at this point is that you are one of the few sourcers who know where to tap!

The sourcer a customer selects to represent their interests in securing their next hire can affect:

  • The candidate selected
  • The value that candidate brings to an organization (over time)
  • The customer’s financial position years down the road
  • The customer’s ability to avoid legal pitfalls
  • How the customer company is presented (if the sourcer is indeed making that first contact)
  • The stress experienced by customer
  • The timeliness of the search/hire
  • Communication during the search/hire
  • The price paid for the candidate

Looking at all of these factors demonstrates how important the selection of a sourcer is!

Fishing in the wrong ponds can create many problems for a customer that will radiate from that selected hire for years, affecting even the next hires!

You could ask the customer which of these issues concerns them the most. You can also ask, at this point, just what it is they want to accomplish and in what time frame.

Understandwhat it is they want. It may just turn out that yours is not the best service and/or most cost efficient service for them, and you might refer them to a trusted colleague in the service area needed.

Do you see a sourcer’s influence and the effect on the candidate selection process 

Doesn’t it make sense when I say that it’s fundamentally important what sourcer a customer selects?

My Market Knowledge Is Superior to Other Sourcers (in my Space)

We have to prove that our sourcing knowledge is the gold standard. To accomplish this, understand supply and demand in the marketplace.

A Best Sourcer understands how the marketplace affects a prospective customer’s prospects at success and that this understanding represents a clear competitive intelligence advantage for a customer.

You demonstrate value when you can use market knowledge both throughout your presentation to the customer and in the search itself.

There are few sourcers who really understand the effects of the dictating law of supply and demand on the marketplace.

A Best Sourcer has a grasp on what the marketplace holds both in terms of talent availability and at that talent’s different price points. This gives a clear, quantifiable measure of the competitiveness of the marketplace your customer is approaching and the approximate talent numbers available in that marketplace.

An important concept in understanding market knowledge is grasping the fact that your analysis should be presented as a “snapshot.”

Any sector of the economy can be changed overnight triggered by economic events.

What makes sense for the customer on Tuesday may not make sense on the following Monday when Big Blue announces a layoff or Cisco announces hiring in Canada or a lawsuit is filed that will change the face of the U.S. talent community (and recruiting!) into the foreseeable future.

Every sourcer should have a process they follow that the customer can understand at any point along the way. Sourcers should give their customers timely start and end dates and updates on progress and info gleaned along the sourcing trail. And, questions (and marketplace information) that arise during the sourcing process should be shared with customers regularly.

The final report should be clean and easily understandable when sent to the customer; the method and type of information delivery should be established early on. Upon receiving a Best Sourcer’s sourcing results a customer should be able to sit down at her desk, pick up the telephone, and call the names provided (without having to look up a phone number)!

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  1. Jordan Clark

    Seems kind of like Sales 101, selling yourself and the knowledge/unique candidate base you can provide, maybe recruiters or 3PR recruiters having a background or understanding of the sales process would help.

  2. Andre Sawyer

    I’m with you Jordan. Seemed a bit geared toward the novice. I was hoping for more. I find that my customers really value formal reports and regular updates with regard to sourcing efforts.

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