How To Have More Client Prospects Come To You

recruiting recruitment staffing Nov 30, 2022

In my 28+ yrs in the recruiting industry, many things have changed. One of the biggest changes I've observed is the shift from a sales approach (cold calling, asking for referrals, and introductions) to a marketing or lead generation approach (enhancing visibility and enticing your target audience to come to you). Most recruiting firms would prefer that their prospects come to them rather than them trying to "chase down" their prospects. 

Why is lead generation so crucial in today's recruiting industry? The reason is two-fold:

  1. Cold-calling is ineffective with most audiences since people seldom answer their phones or return voicemails. When cold-callers do connect, most prospects are conditioned to shut them down quickly. Don't you do the same with cold callers?
  2. Only a small percentage of recruiting firms can drive consistent growth with referrals alone. 


Here's the problem

The business development process of most recruiting firms focuses on trying to sell or convince prospects to work with them, even if competitors are working on the same search or the company is trying to fill the position themselves. How do you think most companies perceive recruiting firms that use this approach? They view them as commodities since these firms do not articulate compelling differentiators to separate themselves from their competitors. When your audience views you as a commodity, your frustrations increase while your profits decrease! This phenomenon is true for any business, not just the recruiting industry. 


Here's the solution

An effective lead generation program "flips the script" away from this outdated and largely ineffective approach. Instead of trying to go for the sale quickly, the recruiting firm does things to  showcase itself as a "subject matter expert" or "trusted advisor." When your prospects and clients see you in this light, they are far more likely to approach you for help and work with you on more favorable terms, including exclusives or retainers.

Effective sales and marketing works because it aligns your message and approach with what causes people to respond positively to you. However, the "convince you to work with me" business development approach that most recruiting firms use causes their prospects to react negatively to them. This is because when someone tries to press and convince you to work with them, your natural response is to resist and avoid them. However, when someone consistently provides you with useful, insightful information, your natural response is to be intrigued and appreciative. Your respect and trust for them are likely to increase over time. And when you have a need that they address, you're far more likely to approach them for help! 

The two scenarios above illustrate the difference between a traditional sales approach to recruiting firm business development and a good lead generation approach. Which approach do you believe is likely to be more effective over time? Which approach would you like your firm to adopt? 


The fundamentals of lead generation

For recruiting firms conditioned to a sales approach, a lead generation approach requires learning new skills and knowledge. Isn't this the case for any change that will give you a competitive advantage?  Below are the basic elements of a good lead generation program.

  1. LinkedIn Profiles of your business development people (including you) need to: clearly articulate the following information:
  • Who your target audience is (e.g., the industries or functional roles they specialize in)? 
  • What makes you, your people, and your firm unique and valuable to your audience?
  • What specific outcomes your audience achieves when working with your firm?
  • Recommendations from clients in this audience.
  1.   Your company website should provide the above information to your target audience while offering more details than you can fit on a LinkedIn profile. Your website enables you to expand your message without the limitations of LinkedIn. The critical thing to remember is your website should focus more on your target audience than on your firm. Your message should focus on the specific challenges your audience faces and the solutions to these problems that your firm provides to these challenges. The "about" section of your website is the best place to promote your firm, with content focused more on your firm than your audience.
  2.  Content Is king because it's your primary tool to build your brand as a "subject matter expert" or "trusted advisor." When your content resonates with your target audience, they will no longer see you as another recruiting firm commodity. Your LinkedIn profile and website are the primary places to display your content. In addition to the basic content on your website and LinkedIn profile, you need to provide ongoing content that engages your audience and keeps you in mind with them. Some effective forms of ongoing content include:
  • Articles you create to address issues that your audience struggles with. Relevant topics include any problem that gets in the way of them being able to hire and retain the types of people you place. The details related to producing quality content are too extensive for this article. I will cover this topic in a future article. 
  • Free downloadable materials that address the issues above include guides, "cheat sheets," and checklists. These free downloads are also referred to as "lead magnets" An advantage of providing downloadable content is that your prospects get something printable that includes your branding and contact information. This enhances the odds of them reaching out to you.
  1.   Distribution of your content is vital to maximize the number of people who notice your material and are impacted by it. The primary methods of distribution include:
  • Posting articles in the article or blog section of your website 
  • Posting articles on Linkedin 
  • Sending emails to your audience with an enticing subject line to boost open rates and an engaging blurb about the content to increase click rates.
  1. Think long-term. A fundamental difference between the marketing/lead generation approach and the traditional sales approach is that the sales approach focuses on closing deals now, and the marketing approach focuses on building positive brand awareness. The long-term approach sets you up to be a trusted advisor your audience holds in high regard rather than another recruiting firm commodity. The willingness to hold off on pushing for a quick sale in favor of developing the perception of being a trusted advisor is critical to developing prospects who value what you offer.

If you apply the above principles consistently, you're likely to significantly increase your firm's revenue while substantially reducing the problems you encounter due to being positioned as a commodity with your target audience. If scaling recruiting wisely is a high priority avoiding being perceived as a commodity is critical.

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