Ensuring a Solid Value Proposition, Part 2

Oct 14, 2009

In my opinion, the number-one value proposition a leader can give to a recruiter is the ability for the recruiter to perpetually grow in all dimensions. This means professionally as well as personally and financially as well as mentally and spiritually. In nature, plants either grow or they decompose. They do not stay the same. When they are not properly nourished with the right environment, they leave that environment. In a search firm, the nourishment is supplied by group- and one-on-one development.

Training is the broad term that encompasses this, but a better one is learning.

What is being done at your firm to learn every week? If you are a firm of one, then how are you growing? What books are you reading to grow? What webinars, DVDs, conferences, coaches, training programs, etc. are you signed up for in the next 30 days? If the answer is less time than you plan on watching TV, then you are saying your learning is less important than the shows you will watch. Now don’t get me wrong, there are many shows I enjoy watching.

But if I am not growing and helping others, I risk going backwards.

Perhaps I am biased because of my involvement with Next Level Recruiting Training, but please know that our training business emerged from a genuine belief in training and learning. It is not a coincidence that we have an intense foundation training program for every new associate, followed by an additional 170+ mandatory training hours in the first year alone.

Veterans who “know it all” have a mere 50+ each year. Many spend even more time doing this than what is mandated. When I hear that times are tough and we can’t afford to have people take time away from their “desks” or we can’t afford training, I must admit it sounds like the company that, because of low sales, decides to eliminate its sales department!

Learn How to Learn

Create a one-year learning plan for you and everyone at your organization. It should cover all dimensions of one’s life and have some elements that are quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily. Financial planning should be as important as daily recruiting planning. Closing, communicating, listening, questioning, marketing, time and attention management, negotiating, presenting, and qualifying are but a few of the areas of potential growth, learning, and training.

Learning should be continuous and constant, and never forget that repetition is the mother of all learning! There is someone at our firm who billed 500k+ as a SOLO in her rookie year as a solo. There is another person who did not crack 100k. No two people are the same, which is why learning and training must be situational and based on the level and competencies of the student.

Creating a solid value proposition is what every leader must do. There are many ways to do this but learning, ironically, is usually the most personal, valued, and least expensive. The fact that you are reading this means that you value training and learning. There are many in this business who never had any formal training and/or now do nothing in this area. These firms are usually part of the big statistical number of search firms and recruiters who go under in tough times.

Many recruiters use tough times as the reason to go on their own; “billings are down so I can get a larger percentage of a lower billing amount,” is the mindset. Instead, what about the mindset that “I can grow and become a better recruiter by working harder and gaining market share so that when the market turns I will explode my production and opportunities within the organization.”

If this mindset is to permeate the organization, then it must be because they are given the roadmap through learning on how to do just that!

Tip from the Trenches

Ryan Ross is a partner at Kaye/Bassman and leads a team that did 1.6m+ in a calendar year. He is a student of the business and is sharing his tip from the trenches. (By the way, getting veteran recruiters in the office to help train others is a great example of the veterans learning by teaching! Oh, and have them train in areas where they need to improve themselves!)

From Ryan:

The precursor to successfully delivering your service charge is to make sure you did a thorough job of explaining your search process and the value you bring before getting to the fee. Too often, recruiters allow the client to control the direction of the call. When asked the “How do you work?” question, they immediately go into fee negotiating.

I have had the most success in securing an engaged search by clearly explaining my process prior to discussing the fee. Once I’ve walked through my process I simply state my fee without hesitation. The goal is to convey this in such a way that it’s just how you work. If you have ever visited a Saturn dealership, you know that unlike almost every other car dealer in the United States, they don’t haggle. They make it clear from the beginning that their pricing is set and there is no option for negotiation. Now, I’m not suggesting we’ll get there, but if you have clearly articulated the value you bring prior to discussing your fee, the client will have a harder time pushing back. If you deliver your fee with clarity and no hesitation, you’ll have much more success in getting what you want.

It should sound something like this, “Mr. Client based on what we discussed about your needs, my professional recommendation is ________. What needs to happen to initiate this agreement?”

Remember, the fee is just a continuation of the overall search process conversation. Treat it as such, and I’ll bet you’ll be pleased with the results!

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