The Seven Commitments are important in gauging how “hot” a job order is. You need to verify the commitments in every conversation, using various different approaches. If you don’t have all the commitments, it does not mean you should not work the job order, it means you should figure out how to get the client commitment.
1. Hiring manager contact
Only the hiring manager has an emotional investment and feels a sense of urgency to get results. Second-hand information makes it impossible for you to impact the decision-maker and quality is compromised by inaccurate information. Providing a quality service and your ability to close depend on hiring manager contact.
2. Take and return our phone calls
Only contact by phone allows you to maintain urgency and have impact on the process. You can’t effectively influence and impact via email. We need to use our sales skills, which can only happen when we talk to the client directly. Email is an important tool but now is not the time for it.
3. Interview our people
If they don’t interview, they can’t hire. Not “read resumes,” interview. You pre-screen — they interview. The goal is to build relationships that result in you becoming their staffing partner rather than their resume sourcer or buzzword matcher. This will take multiple conversations (see above!). You may have to prove your competence in pre-screening. Once you have proved yourself, ask again for block times, a working interview or an EIO (Employer In Office).
4. Feedback after interviews
If you don’t prepare hiring managers in advance to give you feedback, you just won’t get it. If they like your candidate they will call and say “What’s the bill rate?” if not, you will never hear from them again. “The client liked his skills but he wasn’t a personality fit” is not feedback. We don’t know what it means or how to use it. Feedback is information that we not only get, we use. The leverage we use to motivate a decision or to take the action of getting another candidate comes from useful, specific, detailed feedback.
5. Start date
You can only “work the hot stuff first” if you are able to accurately identify what is really hot as opposed to what seems hot. You owe your colleagues and yourself the opportunity to make a placement that can only come from diligently asking probing questions to ascertain how high a priority this job really is, and part of that is knowing what the start date is.
(HINT: If the start date is flexible, if the client can wait a long time to bring a consultant in, then this is probably NOT a priority for the client!)
“ASAP” or “yesterday” are not a start date. That’s like answering the question “What time do you start work?” with “Morning.” There is a big difference between having an “8:15 a.m.” deadline to get to work and arriving in the “morning.” You need a specific, agreed upon, target start date that acts as a goal or a deadline.
You can’t hide from the bill rate (or the placement fee); you need to address them before working on the job order. We will tell the client what the bill rate is, but we want to find out if they have a specific budget that would require us to rule out the most expensive (and highest skilled) applicants. A commitment to pricing means actual numbers, not “I’ll pay market price.” Of course they will, but their idea of what market price means may be off. Talk concrete numbers. If you can’t say with authority “the client can pay <this amount> but will not go higher than <this amount>,” you don’t have a commitment to pricing.
Don’t forget, it is a company budget, not their personal cash. Managers spend every cent allotted to them. They can’t save or invest it or apply it to next year’s budget. If they don’t use it all, the company cuts the manager’s budget next year. That doesn’t mean the manager will make a bad deal, but if you do your job of selling and showing the company the value, they’ll pay for it.
7. Timely process
The entire process, from identifying a viable candidate to the actual start of the assignment, should flow smoothly in an organized and reasonable time frame. You do not want to work hard only to have the best applicant accept another offer because the client’s process is too long and drawn out. Remember: Time kills all deals!
In every conversation, get a commitment to moving to the next step. In some cases, the next step will be, “This applicant is out.” That is preferable to “keep him warm” or “maybe” or a stalling of the process. We are hoping for a “yes” decision, but what we need is a decision — yes or no. A “no” just means that you clear the way for a “yes” on another candidate.
If you have all seven of these commitments from your client then you have a committed order. You have something that you can confidently present to the recruiting team and, coupled with a strong job description garnered through skillful questioning, something that enables you to create a powerful sales story, something the recruiting team has a strong likelihood of filling.
If you lack any of these commitments then evaluate, with the guidance of your management team, how to proceed with (and prioritize) this order. If you have any questions, or would like more information on this topic, don’t hesitate to reach out for more detail.