How To Get Better Client Offers For Your CandidatesMar 28, 2023
Many recruiting firms invest significant effort into managing the expectations of candidates yet do little to manage the expectations of their clients. Unfortunately, many deals are lost because of client actions that could have been prevented with more effective account management.
The most dangerous clients are the ones who think they're in control and call all the shots in hiring candidates. The best Account Managers (AMs) know it's their job to lead their clients away from this self-destructive attitude by properly managing their expectations.
When you do this well, your clients will see you as a Trusted Advisor rather than a "typical recruiting firm AM." Being seen as a Trusted Advisor maximizes your odds of getting better offers that are accepted by your candidates. Positioning yourself in this way is one of the most critical business development strategies for recruiting firms.
The ideal place to start managing client expectations is during the job intake call. Even if you didn't start there, by consistently applying the below principles, many of your clients learn to view you more favorably. With time, you're likely to consistently achieve a high success rate due to the trust and respect you earned.
The principles of managing client expectations
The principles involved in managing client expectations are the same as those in managing candidate expectations. Both come down to the following two human psychology principles.
- We don't want to lose something we want, especially to our competition.
- The more scarce and in demand a resource is, the more valuable it becomes.
Managing client expectations is all about framing your actions as helping them avoid losing:
- The candidates they wish to hire
- Their positive reputation in the marketplace as an employer of choice
How to frame your role with clients
AMs must overcome the fear that assuming their rightful place as trusted advisors will alienate their clients. Without proper advice from competent AMs, many clients will do things that kill perfectly viable deals! AMs who help their clients land the candidates they desire earn their client's trust and respect.
Getting turndowns damages your standing with clients since their natural reaction is to blame the AM rather than themselves. And the client isn't entirely wrong since a more competent AM could have influenced them to make accepted offers.
Here's an example of how to frame yourself as a trusted advisor:
"Client, I view my role as a partner in your success."
"There are two key parts to my job:
- Help you hire the best people, which includes providing advice to give you an edge over companies competing for the same talent
- Help you protect your company's reputation in the market so you can continue to hire the best people. Companies damage their reputations by making low offers or not providing timely feedback after candidate submittals and interviews. I want to help you keep a strong reputation in the market."
"What are your thoughts on the two key parts of my job?"
If your client buys into the above framing process, you've set up a trusted advisor relationship. When your client's actions threaten a deal, you have permission to bring up the above frames to help them shift their approach to setting up a winning offer.
Using your points of leverage:
AMs don't have direct control over the actions of their clients. Trying to push or force your clients will damage relationships and future business. So, what do you do? You must calmly utilize your leverage points below to influence your clients to make better offers that increase the odds of placements.
Your three leverage points
Leverage point 1: A high level of interest in hiring your candidate. This is your primary leverage point. You have no leverage if their interest isn't at least an 8/10. The higher the desire, the greater your leverage.
Your move: If your client rates their interest level in your candidate below a 9/10, ask what's getting in the way of your candidate being a 9-10/10. Then you can try to address their concerns. If your client's interest remains low, it's best to use the takeaway (see below)
Leverage point 2: The takeaway
As stated above in human psychology principle 1, we don't want to lose something we want. The point of the takeaway is for the client to experience the possibility of losing your candidate.
You can't be a highly successful AM if you're not okay with calmly and confidently using the takeaway. Don't use it in anger or frustration. Do it to gauge client interest. Stop wasting everyone's time when interest is lacking, even after trying to address their concerns.
The takeaway establishes that you are not a typical AM who is more concerned about the fee than what the client wants. When used properly, the takeaway increases the client's trust and respect for you because it conveys the following message:: "This recruiter is concerned about helping us hire the right person rather than trying to push their candidate on me."
Leverage point 3: The market/competition
The price of every resource fluctuates based on supply and demand. And most clients want to hire the better candidates who are usually employed. These candidates are unlikely to accept offers below their current market value. Also, the compensation expectations of candidates can increase between the time of submittal and the time of offer due to competing opportunities that may offer more money.
This "compensation creep" can frustrate clients who ask questions like, "last week, when you submitted your candidate, their comp range was 120k +. Now you're telling me her range has changed to 130k + in one week?" These quick changes can cause clients to wonder if the recruiter (you) is not shooting straight with them.
Your move: After you make your first submittals have the "Reality Conversation" with your client. The Reality Conversation goes something like this:
"Client, I'd like to talk to you about some challenges companies face when hiring people in this market. There's a shortage of quality candidates for this profile relative to the demand. As a result, if you're interested in someone, there's a good chance other companies are also pursuing them. That puts upward pressure on their comp expectations."
"Nobody controls this reality. What do you want to do when this happens with the people you are interested in pursuing?"
Your goal is to educate your clients in advance so that it's not a shock when compensation creep occurs!
The "paying above the candidate's minimum" conversation
Understandably, companies prefer to pay less, not more, without realizing that they're usually better off going above the candidate's minimum comp because emotions play a significant role in a candidate's decision to accept a position and honor their commitment.
When candidates receive an offer at or very close to their minimum, they may accept the position despite their disappointment. However, they're not starting with the highest level of enthusiasm. And the client bears a greater risk of them changing their mind between the dates of acceptance and star.
It's wise to discuss this reality with your client. Then you can advise them that if they can offer several thousand dollars more than they initially intended, this gesture can provide them with a large ROI.
In summary, achieving a high rate of offer acceptance is directly related to managing the expectations of both the candidates and clients. Since AMs have just as much leverage with clients as recruiters do with candidates, they must master the skill of managing client expectations to get better offers their candidates are likely to accept!