It's easy to fall into the trap of repeating the same sales strategies that have worked for you (or your manager!) in the past when doing BD in recruitment. But the world of sales moves fast, and the worst thing you can do is waste your precious time blindly pursuing strategies that just don’t work anymore.
Using outdated sales tactics loses business, so it’s important you take time to freshen up your strategies regularly to make sure you stand out from the competition.
Here are four business development strategies that don’t work anymore in recruitment, and most importantly - what you should do instead.
1. The “any jobs?” tactic
Phoning a prospect just to ask them if they have any jobs on is one of the laziest approaches to business development out there.
Not only is it a completely unengaging way to start a conversation, but you’re also revealing that you’ve put no effort into understanding their recruitment challenges or even find out if they’re currently recruiting!
You can guarantee countless other recruiters have used this same ‘tactic’ with your prospect already that week, so this approach will just p*ss off potential clients and give agency recruiters a bad name – it’s a total lose-lose.
What to do instead:
Research your prospect’s website and social media pages to get an insight into their business and hiring behaviours to work out if you can provide any value with your services before you go near the phone.
One of the hardest things for many salespeople to accept is the fact they can’t help everyone and the ‘any jobs’ approach is indicative of a salesperson who doesn’t understand this.
2. Chasing job ads
Chasing job ads is a really popular sales tactic in recruitment, but it completely misses the mark on why businesses choose to pay agencies for their services in the first place: Because they already have excellent candidates on their books.
By chasing job ads, you’re wasting precious time having detailed conversations to understand the job then having to go to market to source candidates that might not be available or even exist! This is a massive trap that many recruiters fall into and is very easy to avoid.
What to do instead:
Reverse the process and get the candidates in first, then spec them out to prospects. Your top candidates are your currency in our current market – is makes no sense to chase an opportunity unless you have something solid to offer.
If you focus on nurturing great relationships with purple squirrels and other in-demand candidates in your marketplace, you can approach prospective clients having full confidence that you can provide real value to their business.
3. Pitching a fake USP
If you dread being asked that all-important question “what makes you different from your competitors?” it’s probably because you haven’t thought hard enough about your USP (unique selling point).
It’s easy to panic and blurt out a list of very generic USPs that really aren’t ‘unique’ at all, as every other agency says the same thing. Or even worse, pitching a delivery USP like “I can guarantee that if you work with me, I’ll fill the job in a single day” that you can’t stand by in practice. Prospects see through lies like this and even if they don’t initially, you’ll eventually lose all credibility when you can’t deliver and probably lose that client for good.
What to do instead:
Your agency should already have a company USP that clearly explains what makes the business different from your competitors. This should be at the core of why the agency exists in the first place, so if you don’t know your agency’s ‘why’ – ask someone.
Use your company USP to develop a strong elevator pitch that’s rooted in your agency’s USP but also unique to how you do business based on the challenges you have seen and recognised with your clients.
4. Cold calling
Picking up the phone and going dial-wild until someone eventually listens to your pitch is a tactic that is now totally dead and buried in recruitment – no matter what your manager tells you!
The market is incredibly crowded nowadays, and this means your prospects need to already be sold on you before you pick up the phone. Our eBook shows you how to turn cold calls into warm calls and win more business from prospects:
David is a Senior Growth Outreach Specialist at Firefish. After working as a 360 recruiter, he loves innovating recruitment with Firefish Software.