Survivability

As I complete my twenty-second year in the business of executive recruitment I pause to give thanks and focus on the future with unbridled enthusiasm and optimism. Why am I so psyched? Because I’m a part of the most meaningful, impactful profession on the planet and am surrounded by such wonderful colleagues.I thank The Fordyce Letter and Paul Hawkinson, not to suck up, because I have no reason to do that. I’m thankful for being exposed to inspiring and relevant industry opinion and motivational theories. From the year I was trained by Steve Finkel, (1982) to the consistent expos?s of Terry Petra and the more recent views of Scott Love, I value all of the messages and positive energy tremendously. Once again this month, I picked up the unique and creative ideas of Frank Risalvato to add a page to my own website (www.pinnaclesource.com) and advertise for my own “industry insider.”Now it’s time to plow ahead into my 23rd year and accomplish ever-greater goals. I’m encouraged by the fact that despite being grounded in a depressed specialty IT in a beaten down geography Colorado I have survived. My billings for the year are down slightly, but not for lack of effort. As a matter of fact, I’ve successfully filled more searches YTD in ’03 through 8 months then I did in ’02. Unfortunately, my average fee is down. However, as I’ll explain, I think that may be good news.More importantly as I enter this month for the first time this year I believe I have a full load of Class A searches, a few nice receivables and several happy clients. I’m also confident that by keeping my fees low, to “match” the market, and by offering creative fee approaches; several of these customers are going to be repeat buyers in 2004.My Three StrategiesHow have I done it? First, by working my butt off. Second by staying as hopeful and positive as possible despite the doom and gloomers trying to attack and zap my sanity and emotional strength. Again that’s where TFL and its pundits have been my saviors. But I also employed three strategies that have enabled me to pay the bills, pay myself (although not as much as I’d like) and keep the dream alive.Number one; I’ve kept my overhead down. This has been a huge challenge for me because I’m a big spender by nature and I had built in too many excesses throughout a long, profitable career. But it’s been absolutely necessary! I’ve trimmed everything from payroll, to travel and entertainment, to office space and even telecomm/internet services. I’ve survived with one tremendous assistant who does a little bit of everything (just right) to support me. Being solo as a recruiter has forced me to find business and fill searches on my own. Call it productivity or efficiency, or whatever; it can be done!Number two; I’ve offered very flexible, creative fees to both new and old clients. My novel approach includes a “pay for performance” fee plan whereby the longer my placed candidates stay with their (new) employers, the more I earn. This has worked particularly well with sales-related placements. I also have deals, ongoing as I write, that if and when my placed sales reps sell, I get a percentage (albeit a small one) of their commissions.These approaches have made for smaller invoices and scary receivables totals. But I keep getting paid, incrementally, and my clients and candidates are satisfied. That is a nice platform to build future business from.Number three; I’ve never stopped marketing! Even when I thought I had enough searches, I kept looking, and calling, for one more. I’ve used new lists, old lists, candidates, clients, venture capitalists, neighbors and friends as networking parties. My findings are that the more candid, and confident I am about the intrinsic value of what I offer the better my results. As Scott Love points out, if you don’t believe in the ROI of your capabilities and your services you cannot expect anyone else to.Look back at some of your “old” placements and ask yourself what impact some of those top candidates (that no one else could have or ever would have surfaced except you!) have had on their companies. Fees of twenty, thirty thousand dollars or more seem trivial when viewed next to the leadership and results so many of our placed candidates contribute. Take that feeling and consistently communicate that value. Package it into your next cold or warm call and don’t relent. Know that you can affect a prospective client with a service that 99.9% of the other salesperson out there can’t touch. And dial again, because you never know when someone in need will be on the other end.My Three WishesMy first wish is that I inspire just one reader. If just one of you in the trenches, that can so often feel like the pits, gets motivated to swing for the fences one more time, I’ll be happy. Don’t expect immediate results, but keep hacking. Second, I wish for an even better 2004 for our profession, the economy at large, the less fortunate, and me. Third, I wish for a 50th wedding anniversary (in 2040) with my wife, Sherri, who puts up with all of my craziness in business, and in life.

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Jordan A. Greenberg is the president of The Pinnacle Source, Inc., a search and placement firm specializing in, but not limited to, the recruiting of sales/sales management talent for IT companies. He has been servicing this community, based in Colorado, since 1981. Contact him at (303) 796-9900, jordan@pinnso.com, or www.pinnaclesource.com.

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