Recruiters: 3 Reasons Why Your Prospect Is Just Not That Into You

Nov 22, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-11-12 at 7.47.17 PMThe 2009 romantic comedy-drama film He’s Just Not That Into You portrays the lives of individuals who repeatedly misinterpret the behaviors of their romantic partners. Human behavior is complicated, unpredictable, and easy to misread.

In sales — as in recruiting — success depends on the ability to influence the behavior and decisions of others.

How sure are you that you can correctly read and understand your prospects or clients? Human behavior is not always logical or predictable.

Wonder how you can tell that a prospect may just not be that into you?

  • Have you ever been surprised to have a prospect reject your offer, after you’ve had a series of (seemingly) positive interactions?
  • Ever been caught off guard by an objection?
  • Have you been frustrated by how long it takes to move prospects or candidates forward?
  • Have you been burned by assumptions about commitment?

Here are three common mistakes I’ve seen recruiters make that can easily lead to a candidate or prospect being “…  just not that into you.” And I will share some tips on how to keep from repeating these common errors.

Mistake No. 1: You make the conversation all about you

He doesn’t need to be reminded you’re great. — Greg Behrendt, He’s Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys

I am struck by how many recruiters make their calls all about their needs and spend virtually the entire time talking (I call it terminal transmit). A recruiter-centric call is like the “old-school” selling model of “pushing product” just to achieve quota. Frankly, that’s what has given sales such a bad name.

To avoid this mistake:

  1. Check your talk time. As a rule, if you are talking more than two to three minutes at a time, stop!

  2. Do your homework and edit your questions. Drop unnecessary questions and replace them with high-powered questions that help you gather great information about what’s important to your prospect.

  3. Sell your position later in the call, rather than sooner. Use the front-end of the call to learn about your prospect or candidate. Then, use the back end of the call to align your position with what’s important to your prospect.

Mistake No. 2: You don’t know how to listen

We have become a sloppy bunch of people. We say things we don’t mean. We make promises we don’t keep. — Greg Behrendt, He’s Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys

The most important skill in successful selling — and successful recruiting — is listening. But my experience in training recruiters points to an almost “epidemic” lack of listening skills. Rather than listening with interest, attention, and curiosity, recruiters often make assumptions about interest based on a few words or phrases. My “old school sales ears” are terrified to hear how many recruiters “prescribe before diagnosing” on calls simply because they don’t know how to clarify, probe, or follow up.

To avoid this mistake:

  1. Stop multitasking. Listening takes your full attention. You can’t be fully present to another human being when you are checking email, responding to calendar invites, etc.

  2. Practice your listening. Get a partner and have them tell a short story. During the story, restrict your own talk time. Try simply listening and asking clarifying questions — not reacting, sharing or talking.

  3. Attend “listening skill” training. If you have not been trained on great listening skills, it’s pretty hard to assume you will somehow just be able to “pick them up.” It’s rather astonishing how we think people can intuitively “just know” how to listen without any training.

Mistake No. 3: Your recruiting process is not aligned with how your prospects make decisions

Wasting time with the wrong person is just time wasted. — Greg BehrendtHe’s Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys

Similar to “Mistake No. 1” this one is about lack of attention to what your prospect may need in order to make a career decision. If your recruiting process is highly focused on your own milestones (e.g., application accepted, candidate screened, candidate sent to hiring manager) you are not aligned. And when you are not aligned, you run the risk of wasting time because you are making assumptions about readiness or fit.

You may regard your process as a “recruiting process,” but your prospect regards it as a “change process.” They are going to want to minimize risk and may react adversely to your process if it does not adequately address their perceptions or anxiety around change.

To avoid this mistake:

  1. Get aligned quickly. Use the early stages of your call/relationship to identify and clarify key aspirations and afflictions. Dig deep (using great questions and listening) to ensure you understand motivators for change.

  2. Slow down. It’s tempting to try and keep prospects moving forward; however, be realistic about the time it takes people to process decisions and become comfortable with change.

  3. Sell the gap. Keep your focus on helping your prospect contrast status quo with the picture of the “desired future.” Remember, “no pain, no change.”


Image courtesy of pakorn/

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