In our previous article we stated that “… exclusive relationships generally produce better results, in less time, while requiring the investment of fewer client resources than traditional methodologies.” However, this is a fact that may not be widely accepted by your prospect/clients. Therefore, in order to sell the concept of exclusivity, whether retainer or contingency, you must understand the justification for establishing such a relationship.
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One or more of the following reasons typically provide your prospect/client with the necessary justification:
- Their sense of urgency places the highest priority on filling the position. The position must be filled right and must be filled now. Little or no margin for error exists with this hire.
- The difficulty of the search requires a focused resource approach. The required skills and experience are not resident within the readily available candidate pool.
- The prospect/client does not possess the wherewithal to effectively conduct the search through alternative means. A quantity approach would not only waste time and staff resources, but also would increase the level of frustration and aggravation that comes from being stretched too thin.
Focusing your marketing efforts for exclusives on prospects and clients where one or more of the above listed justifications are present is just the beginning. Convincing them to grant you an exclusive is quite another matter. Whether or not you receive an exclusive will depend on:
- The client’s belief that you truly understand the specifics of their needs and the peculiarities of their organization. The development of a comprehensive job description and realistic selection criteria needs to go hand-in-hand with gaining an understanding of the outcomes that must be achieved through this position.
- The client’s belief that you can access the talent, skills, and experience they require in the desired employee. Your search efforts must go beyond easily identified and readily available candidates.
- The client’s belief that your service delivery capabilities will produce a successful hire within an acceptable timeframe. They must be convinced that you can orchestrate a process that will result in a successful hire.
- The client’s belief that the risk they take in granting you an exclusive is well worth taking. They must have confidence in your ability to deliver on your promises.
Obviously, one of the most effective ways of convincing the prospect/client that you can deliver on your promises is to prepare a list of references, i.e. clients who can qualitatively verify your claims. This list should be prepared in advance. Depending on your area of specialization, you may wish to customize it to include companies of similar size and focus as that of your prospect.
Nevertheless, references alone may not be enough to convince the wary prospect/client. Therefore, you need to discuss the details of your service delivery system. You must clearly describe in specific terms “how” you work and the steps you will take to meet your client’s needs. It is in this critical area that most recruiters/consultants lose the sale. You should demonstrate that your process is thorough, systematic, and designed to achieve the desired results while eliminating as much as possible those variables that contribute to hiring error. Many of the following factors could be included in your presentation:
- The nature of the exclusive relationship allows the client greater control over the search process.
- Search firm accountability is specific and detailed. No mutual mystification.
- Initial and long-term objectives become more clearly focused.
- For the client, a greater understanding should result from both the internal and external factors that may influence the achievement of objectives.
- Comprehensive job and candidate descriptions will be formulated thereby defining not only the structure and functionality of the position but also realistic, specific, and job-related selection criteria.
- The search process becomes quickly focused, thereby allowing for an improved allocation of corporate resources, i.e. time, financial, and human resources.
- The depth and scope of the search will be greater thereby improving the likelihood results will meet or exceed expectations. Search efforts are not restricted to easily identified, readily available candidates.
- Dialogue and interest can be established with targeted individuals who may not be available through alternative approaches (see previous article, “The Power of Exclusives”).
- The presentation of the opportunity to the candidates can be handled in a more sensitive, discreet, and objective manner.
- The closed-loop partnering relationship should help control the potentially negative variables in the hiring process. Expectations can be kept in line with reality. An objective third party perspective adds tremendous value to the process.
- Candidate acceptance criteria are identified and assistance is provided in formulating an offer that will be acceptable to both parties. Proper handling of the offer is guaranteed, as no offer will be extended until or unless the candidate is pre-qualified to accept it.
- Comprehensive referencing is performed to help ensure that the candidate selected is qualified to fulfill the responsibilities of the position and properly suited to the client’s organization.
- A comprehensive strategy for proper onboarding is implemented to insure a smooth transition for both the client and the candidate.
- Appropriate follow-up involvement with all parties, at proper intervals, facilitates the evolution of a functional and mutually beneficial relationship between the client and their new employee.
If your presentation is delivered in person, the description of your delivery (search) process may include the use of a laptop computer, audio/video equipment, or collateral material. It can be very beneficial to have your process outlined on paper in some form of “leave behind” document. An example of this type of document is a “Search Project Timetable.”
A properly constructed “Search Project Timetable” provides a visual representation of your service delivery system. Additionally, this form can be instrumental in gaining the client’s commitment to work within a structured, partnering process to achieve their desired results. If you would like to receive an example of a “Search Project Timetable” send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whether the presentation is made in person or on the phone, in order to gain an exclusive relationship with your client, you must create a belief that the risk they are taking in granting you an exclusive is well worth taking.
As always, if you have questions or comments about this article or wish to receive my input on any other topic related to this business, just let me know. Your calls and e-mails are most welcome.
View the whole ‘Exclusives‘ series: