Executional Excellence: Advanced Recruiting Training for Veteran Big Billers Only

Feb 1, 2008

If you are reading this, then I will assume that you have been in the business for many years and know all the fundamentals of search. You know to create a plan every day. You know to always prepare a new presentation for every search and, ideally, memorize it. You know to role-play client and candidate objections to the point where you’ve memorized responses to the common ones. You know to clear your fee in the exact same manner every time. You know to cover mutual accountabilities and expectations to ensure that you have the proper client and candidate cooperation. You know to have high market connect time because working smart and hard are not mutually exclusive. If you think you know all of this already, then I have one question for you: Are you actually doing everything listed and executing the fundamentals regularly?

In my experience, most veterans became successful because they consistently executed the fundamentals during their rookie and sophomore years. Afterwards, the wheels, in terms of fundamentals, start to fall off. Ironically, production tends to increase. So what’s the problem then? The problem is simply the incredible opportunity cost (what could have been generated) created by the veteran who uses his/her market knowledge and years of experience to justify why the fundamentals are no longer important versus the one who has that same market knowledge but continues to consistently execute the fundamentals.

The latter is a leader in the making and a prolific producer. The former is someone who will use “work/life balance” and being a “family person” as a rationale for not being as focused (and ultimately not living up to his/her own potential). To those of you not wanting to admit that “that” person is you, I would say, if you have been in the search business for two-plus years and have not exceeded $300K in production as a solo producer or $450K with a researcher, then you are probably “that” person. Additionally, if you have been in the search business for five-plus years and have not exceeded $400K and $600K, respectively, then the same is true.

Ironically, a person’s achievement of their fullest potential in one area of their life also helps them achieve in other areas as well. The naysayer might suggest that Olympians are lousy husbands/wives/parents because they are too focused on winning the gold. Or that Warren Buffett’s material success has made him a lonely man. Or that Romney’s or Obama’s travel schedule makes him an overworked egomaniac who sacrifices friends and family for political aspirations.

In my opinion, these are examples of people who execute the fundamentals with excellence. A stump speech, a discus toss, and a company’s purchase all require people engaging in the basics every day. I challenge you to write a list of 10 fundamentals of our business that you would teach to a rookie – then review the list and compare your actions against those words. While veterans can get away with shortcuts and can “wing it,” their results over time will simply not be what they otherwise could have been. So, what is the magic formula for an immensely successful 2008?

1. Eat healthy foods and exercise regularly.
2. Spend quality time with the people you care about.
3. Save more than you spend.
4. Plan your work and work your plan with consistency and executional excellence.

There ya go! Oh, so you already knew all that. Well then, what will you be eating for dinner tonight? Which days this week will you be working out at the gym? What plans have you made with your family and friends? How much more wealth have you accumulated this past month? Where are your plan, scripts, and forms that you should be using? If you feel great about your answers, then congratulations. This month’s article should have simply served as well-deserved validation for a life well lived.

If it did not, then realize that if you are not consistently executing the fundamentals, then you do not know them. Knowing something intellectually is worthless if you do not demonstrate that knowledge experientially. Start looking at training DVDs, tapes, books, etc., through different lenses and ask yourself if you are doing what you think you already know. The difference between your knowledge and your execution is your “potential gap.” Make 2008 the year that you close that gap!

In keeping with this month’s theme, I have selected a tip from Ken Phipps, a veteran recruiter, on an important fundamental – leaving effective voice mails. Ken joined Kaye/Bassman in 2000 and generated just over $300K in solo production last year.

Effective Voice Mails

Leaving a voice mail at times will be a shot in the dark to get a return call. We have all experienced those voice mails personally also. The person leaving the voice mail simply did not leave a compelling enough message to persuade us to call them back. Yet here we are, leaving multiple voice mails a day and wondering why our call-return rate is so poor. Just as we personally have not returned voice mails because of too little time, don’t want to waste time, don’t know the person or the company calling, the list goes on. The key one is time. Time is too precious for the potential candidate or client to waste it returning unsolicited phone calls.

Our world is flooded with voice mail, email (SPAM), and office or cubicle drive-bys that can potentially steal our time. So know that less than 10% of our voice mails are returned.

Here are some tips to increase your call-back ratio:

Persistence or Tenacity

A recruiter might ask: “How many times should you call back a potential candidate or future client?” I have seen reports that show as many as seven times, and my personal high was 41 to an owner of a $30MM organization before he returned the call. But those same studies I have read do show significant increases in call-backs after four or five voice mails. Maybe that person finally realizes that you are serious about the call.

Unique Connect

I first heard of this from Butch Hawking, who is a managing director at our firm. A unique connect is any piece of information that establishes an immediate and positive rapport between you and the person you are calling, e.g.:

– A referral from someone that the person you are calling knows either personally or professionally
– Any revealing news or insight into the company or the person that you have discovered from being in your marketplace or researching online
– The name of a mutual friend
– News about a competitor of this person or his/her company

Long or Short

How long should the voice mail be? I have heard them from as short as maybe 10 seconds to some that sounded like a dissertation on War and Peace. We should look at keeping our voice mails in that 30- to 45-second range. Too short or too long and your message is being deleted. Have a quick introduction – your name, company, expertise/practice; then your unique connect (compelling reason why they should keep listening to get your phone number and call you back); and finally, your name and phone number stated clearly.

When leaving your phone number in your voice mail, leave the number at the same pace it takes you to write it out. Leave it too fast and that will cause the recipient of your voice mail to have to listen to the entire voice mail again to get it. I leave my number twice. Both times, I clearly state my name and number. I have practiced writing the number as I leave it many times, so now I have trained myself with the correct tempo. Make sure you also clearly state your name. I cannot count the number of times our receptionist has received phone calls from someone who cannot clearly recite the name of who called them. Another wasted voice mail.






Jeff Kaye is president and CEO of Kaye/Bassman International and Next Level Recruiting Training. This former Management Recruiter National Recruiter of the year has helped build the largest single-site search firm in the country, with annual search revenue in excess of $18 million. His firm has won national awards for philanthropy and workplace flexibility and also was named the best company to work for in the state of Texas in 2006 and 2007. Kaye/Bassman has retained over 30 search professionals whose annual production exceeds $400,000. The same training that helped build this successful firm is now available through Next Level Recruiting Training. They are making a series of DVDs for training. The first series was on the candidate side, and the four hours were dedicated to marketing. The new series, on the client side, is dedicated to marketing, effective search assignments, and fee clearing. It is over seven hours in length. To learn how to take your practice and business to the NEXT LEVEL, please visit to view their product and service offerings. You can also email Jeff a thought or question at