BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AND CHASING NEW CLIENTS
I am sure that I have posted something around this before, but I think it needs mentioning again.
Nearly every agency that I engage with wants me to talk about business development with their consultants. Whilst there are of course some tricks of the trade and some strategies that will improve ratios, remember - BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT IS A MINDSET FAR MORE THAN A SKILL SET. Regardless of your experience, current pipe and track record... JUST DO IT!
Please see below for 3 tips that may help in your quest for new clients:
1. Do it every day. Every day that you prospect you improve. Every day that you don't prospect loses you traction in the market and personal momentum. Please don't use the excuse that are too busy when we both know that 50% of your live roles are C Grade at best. 2. Don't focus on outcomes. You cant control the end result, you can control how long you prospect, how many people you approach and how you approach them.
3. Enjoy it. BD is a game that top performers play, do it with a smile on your face, look for the No!, change tactics, try new approaches, learn and have fun.
Trevor Pinder, November 2018
I keep seeing ads posted by recruiters saying "come and work for our agency, we don't have any KPI's." I need to be honest and say that I just don't agree with this. Recruiters of any level of seniority will always be judged by a bunch of numbers - Individual billings, number of placements, NFI or GP to name but a few. In my view, we have to understand the activity numbers that feed into all of the above or how do we know what good looks like on a daily basis and when we are forecasting? I have been thinking a lot lately about KPI's. I have to say that I am still a fan. I am a big fan of KPI's if they are used in the right way. By this I mean that they should be used as a means to find out areas where the consultant needs help with their development. If you are using KPI's to beat people over the head with then you are getting it all wrong. They also only work if they focus consultants in the right areas. My thoughts that any KPI should only be focused on what the consultant can control. As an example don't KPI your consultants on CV's out the door, target them on candidate conversations instead and then understand how many conversations are needed to get the good CV's out.
Trevor Pinder, October 2018
The Client/The Internal Team and the PSL ……YOU ARE DOING IT ALL WRONG!
It is the question that we get asked from time to time “Would you like to tender to go on our Preferred Suppliers List?”
Let’s face it the answer is always “YES!” even though sometimes it shouldn’t be.
What follows next is one of the most archaic ineffective processes in the recruitment industry. It goes something like this:
1. You get an initial document that asks a few preliminary questions (basically this makes sure that you are not a serial killer and that you don’t employ vampires).
2. You then get selected to fill out an RFI/RFP (Request for Information or Request for Proposal). This is normally a nice thick document that asks you about how many contractors you have working for you, how many candidates that you have on your database, client testimonials and other stuff like your commitment to being green etc.
3. If the above document looks good and fits most of what the customer is looking for then you will probably be asked to present face to face to procurement, HR and maybe senior line management, against a set brief.
4. If you get on your feet and present well then you will go into a negotiation around commercials and if you can agree then you will have achieved the lofty status of PSL supplier.
From the outside in, all the above looks fairly meaningful and represents an effective way to select your recruitment supplier(s). The issue is that this process is outmoded. It’s a busted flush that doesn’t allow to get to know your new supplier at all.
The first real part of the process starts when the agency receives the RFP from the client. The document is normally made up of box standard tried and tested questions that have been used for the last 4 or 5 PSL selections. This is turn means that the agency has all of the answers sitting in a folder somewhere that they just polish and regurgitate.
One other point to mention at this stage is that agencies quite often get CREATIVE with their answers at this stage to ensure that they get through to the presentation round.
After submitting the document, the agency will be asked to present in front of a selection of or all the following from the PSL business: Procurement, HR, Talent Acquisition and Line Management.
This part of the supplier selection also has big similarities to the first part of the process in as much as the brief that the agency gets to present from is similar to previous briefs that they have presented from, time and time again.
The reality of all of the above is that by the time it comes to selecting your PSL, you know very little about the agencies that have tendered and whether they are capable of successfully filling your requirements and that is bonkers!
Some ideas on how to get it right
There was a very good analogy that a wise man once told me: “If you are interviewing a piano player, you don’t sit down and talk to him about playing the piano, you ask him to play!”
So, bearing this in mind, why not try some or all of the following exercises the next time you are thinking about engaging new suppliers:
Get a pass and spend a day onsite – I have previously known customers to do site visits. These are normally planned well in advance and give the agency the chance to roll out the red carpet and make sure that their “problem children” are out of the office that day. A better way to do this would be to ask the agency for a pass to their office and turn up without notice, to see how they operate on a normal day. Sit with consultants, listen to them on the phone, watch them business develop and work jobs to get a real feel of what the agency is about. Whilst you are there, search the CRM for a few recently added candidates and call them to find out how they rate the agency and the service they are getting.
Mystery shop them as a candidate – Put a candidate profile together for yourself (using your favourite pseudonym of course) and apply for a role via the agency and see how well you get treated.
Get them to actually work a job – Genius this one. The amount of companies that have never worked with an agency until they are on their PSL still surprises me. This is the classic “try before you buy” exercise that has to be carried out.
Spend a day interviewing staff – pick random members of the agency and spend a day interviewing them. “How are they trained? “What is the sales process for the company?” “Who do you look up to in the agency?” etc.
To summarise, your PSL selection is important as we all know that the fight for talent is tougher than ever. So, if you do decide to select your PSL differently by using some of the above then make sure that once you have selected them that you give them PROPERmarket rates, that you make them niche and that you give them fresh jobs, not roles that have been worked for two weeks by your internal team before being sent out.
All the above represent my current feelings about PSL Selection and the way the customer/agency relationship works. I would love to hear your thoughts.
Trevor Pinder, August 2018
The Internal Team and the Agency. Can the relationship REALLY work?
If you speak to experienced recruiters (10 years plus in the industry) they will tell you that they spent a lot of their early career avoiding the internal team. There is a mantra that you are told when you start out in recruitment and that is “Stay away from HR or internal, go straight to the hiring manager.”
This approach certainly worked in the 90’s and even the early 2000’s but your ability as a recruiter to bypass the Talent Acquisition team is now greatly reduced and so it should be.
With over 40 000 internal recruiters in the UK alone (and growing by 5000 a year), Talent Acquisition is here to stay.
So now, this leaves the recruiter in a challenging spot with the internal recruitment team, whose directive is often to drive down agency spend. The internal teams challenge is that they need to do this whilst being judged on time to hire against multiple different requirements.
So, in modern day and future recruitment can the relationship between the internal recruiter and the agency consultant REALLY work?
The good news is that the answer to this question is yes, but there is some stuff that we need to think about to ensure the relationship is productive and positive for both for both the business and the agency. Some ideas on how we achieve this healthy balance are as follows:
Select the agency partner carefully – There is no point in engaging with agencies who do the same thing that the internal team does. The business should select (at the most) a handful of genuine niche players that compliment the business.
In terms of the selection it is wise not to go down the traditional route of sending out an RFP document and then asking the shortlisted agencies to come and present. The agencies all have banks of standard information that allow them to reply to tender documents without too much effort. Furthermore, giving the agency shortlist time to prepare against a static presentation brief will not necessarily flush out the truth or qualities that the business is looking for.
Instead why not spend a day with the agency to understand how they “really” work. Then give them a brief to work before you properly engage them to allow you to understand the quality of their service. Why not take real and genuine references from a selection of their other customers and lastly call in (mystery shop) as a “candidate” and see how you get treated.
Don’t try and reduce agency spend by reducing margin percentages - The quickest way to ensure agency disengagement is to dump all open job requirements on them at a reduced PSL margin and put them into a “fastest finger first” race with a host of other recruiters.
Why not be more effective and get more value from the agency partner. Send them the niche, difficult to fill positions that they specialise in and then be prepared to give these roles to them on an exclusive or retainer basis at competitive market rates. If you have the right partner, giving them good rates will help ensure that roles are filled quickly. The saving made by ensuring that key hires are nailed promptly is demonstrable in several different ways.
Make your external agency a genuine partner – Ideally the external agency should be an extension of the internal talent team. They should be able to talk to candidates in exactly the same way that the talent team does. So share the company vision with the external partners. Let them know what the company goals are. Invite them to internal meetings and give them line manager contact for role briefings.
The relationship between the internal team and the agency can and should work. The agency must be credible, honest and specialist and the internal team must be prepared to treat the agency as a genuine partner. When this happens we all get what we want!
Trevor Pinder, May 2018
WARNING FOR TECH START UPS - Choose your recruiter carefully!
So you have taken your dream and made it the reality and you are now the proud CEO of your own tech startup. Your funding is in place, your product is under development and you are sitting in the cupboard under the stairs which you now call an office.
Whilst you are now on a budget, living on pot noodles and value tea bags for the next 18 months, you know that you will be spending money on two things, Tech and people.
Now I can’t advise you on the tech part but I can give you some ideas on how to select the right recruiter to help support your business. The recruiter who will help you find your dev superstars to see you through the early years of your rise to world domination.
Please see below for my top tips below on how to select the right recruiter for your startup:
1. Be careful of size – You don’t want to be just another number or just another client. This is the risk you run if you select one of the really big boys. Think about selecting a smaller boutique player who has probably been through some of the challenges that you are currently facing. Pick an agency who will cherish every placement they make with you as it genuinely makes a difference to their monthly P&L.
2. Choose a recruiter who shares your passion – Make sure that the agent you use knows their Python from their Ruby and is keen to talk about it. Make sure that they want to know all about you, your journey and your goals. Be sure that they can articulate all of these things perfectly as this is what they will be telling the candidate marketplace with a view to engaging them for your business.
3. Find out what they have done before – Find out what other startups they have supported, get testimonials. Use your recruiter as an extension of your own networking activities. They should be able to introduce you to fellow tech professionals who may be able to help you from a non-recruitment perspective.
4. Get a flexible pricing deal – This is so often neglected. Ensure that whoever you are speaking to has the ability to give you the right deal regarding rates, terms, rebates and even monthly payment flexibility for perm hires. You will go through periods early in your startup journey where cash is really low and your recruiter needs to be sympathetic to this.
On the other side of the fence, if you do find a recruiter who is all of the above, then make sure that you commit to them in terms of your time for going over job briefs, CV feedback and prompt interview dates. Give them exclusivity on your roles where possible. Your relationship with your recruiter should be exactly that, a relationship, not a one-way street.
In summary, you really want to find a recruiter who becomes a trusted partner, who shares the highs and lows with you on the way to the top. Whilst this type of recruiter is rare, please send me a message and I might just be able to recommend someone!
Trevor Pinder. October 19 2018
December thoughts and exciting times
Here we are in mid December and for us the market is not showing any signs of slowing down. I have always been a big advocate of working hard in December. It is a great time to sneak up on your competition and take a piece of their pie whilst they are doing too much "socialising."
December is also a great time for winning new business. To generalise, prospective customers are sometimes less busy and more likely to spend a bit more time listening to your pitch, especially if they are feeling festive. There will always be customers who tell you to "call back in the New Year." This is fine because when you do, this the call will be easier than you calling them for the first time.
There is nothing worse than getting back to your desk on a cold early January morning to find that you have no pipeline to drive you through to a decent January number. So be consistent and work hard right up to Xmas and believe the Turkey will taste even better!
In other Junction 9 news, we are just about to launch a new training product called "The Plus 10" in conjunction with the guys over at the RDLC Pirates. This is a 2 day course featuring 10 elements that when implemented will guarantee to increase your monthly billings by 10K. We are really happy with the content and can't wait to start delivering it and the end of January 2018 in London.
Trevor Pinder. November 2017