Objection handling is one of the most basic skills that all recruiters should have. After all, we need to be high-performing salespeople in order to make placements and bring on new clients. Recruitment is selling – and with that, always come objections. Whether it’s about the price, instability of the market, or that they are using another agency, you should always expect (and be prepared!) questions and doubts. If they didn’t have at least one objection at the end of your pitch, you’re probably not going to hear from them again!
Don’t worry - as always, we’ve got your back. We’ve put together a general objection handling guide and found some most common client objections you might face – with tips on how to overturn them, of course!
Pause… and then ask questions
Pausing after you hear an objection might sound counterintuitive but it’s actually a great way to show your confidence. The most successful recruitment consultants don’t jump straight into overturning or interrupt their prospective clients mid-objection. Maintaining a calm front will build trust with your client and show that you care about them, not just about selling to them.
And after? Ask away! Asking the right questions is key to overcoming any objections. You need to fully understand the doubts your client is having – and more often than not, they won’t tell you what they are straight away. You should actively listen to your prospect to get a clear view of their wants, needs, and fears. Top performers follow up 53% of objections with a question!
Taking the time to dig deeper and find the real reason for their objection is sure to pay off – otherwise, you won’t be able to overcome their real objection and win the client over. Most of the time the first objection will not be the real one so saying things such as “I understand your concerns, I have been in similar situations in the past – but if we could solve that issue for you, is there anything else that would prevent you from working with us?” will prompt them to uncover their real problem.
Mirror and validate
Mirroring your prospect’s objection makes them feel heard and understood. Remember, a sales process is not about pushing your service down your client’s throat.
Everyone wants to work with people who understand them and value their opinions or doubts. Proving to your prospect you’re one of those people – people who care about them – get you right on track to closing them. Empathy is key here!
Repeating your client’s issue back to them shows that you have really listened to and understood them. Make sure that your tone is calm and don’t repeat everything they say! Choosing a few keywords or rephrasing their issue will show them you get their problem. Then you can move on to showing them how you will solve it.
Reframe, reframe, reframe
Now is your time to shine – show the prospect how their objections aren’t actually problems. Whether it’s a weakness that can be turned into a strength or an issue that might be reframed into an opportunity, you can always find a way to turn their doubts around.
We will show your direct examples of this below, but reframing is basically about making a 180 out of the objection and showcasing it as a positive. It’s always good to back up your reframe with facts – it might be data, testimonials, or other evidence, that will build your prospective client’s trust in what you’re saying to them.
Confirm with open questions
Ending the cycle with ‘Does this solve your doubts?’ is one of the biggest mistakes recruiters make. Most clients will simply answer ‘yes’, even if they’re still hesitant – and because you didn’t dig deeper, they will leave with those doubts in mind, probably deciding it’s not worth it in the end.
Instead, you could say “What else can I do to assist you in finalising your decision to work with us?” which will ensure that the prospective client can outline anything else that needs to be done or addressed - so that you can get those terms of business signed!
Most common recruitment clients’ objections
‘Your fees are too high.’
Ah, the oldest one in the book. Especially in the current market, doubts about prices are inevitable – even if you haven’t raised them! People are hesitant to spend money, so you need to give your client a good reason to.
How to handle it:
You need to show how you can add value and save them time and money by using your services. What is it that you do differently that they or your competitors can’t do? This is where I would clearly explain my processes to the client so that they know what they are getting for their money! Too often clients don't realise that all the steps in your process cost you a lot of time and effort, so explaining it step-by-step is key here. I once had a client who wanted to reduce the fees (even after I clearly explained the process) so I asked them which part of it they would like me to remove. Cheeky? Perhaps, but gets the job done. Don't sell yourself short, showing confidence can only help you gain their respect!
‘We’re not recruiting right now.’
Another common objection you might face is simply that the client doesn’t need your services. Sure, they might not need you right now but what they’re not thinking about is how the current candidate-driven market is and how long it takes to find great candidates!
How to handle it:
You need to educate your clients about the current market- using data to back yourself up here can be really useful too. For example, “I understand you are not hiring right now but did you know the average time to hire for a …. is around 5 months?”. Just because they don’t have a job on right now, doesn’t mean they should be waiting until they do to speak to an agency - you can find out all about the types of candidates that will fit their culture, learn about what types of positions they have recruited for in the past and how successful they have been, and start building them talent pools. Now, when a job does come in, you are ready!
‘We’re using a different agency.’
Don’t be surprised that a lot of the prospects you approach already have a recruitment agency (or agencies!). Whilst it might be hard to convince them to try something new – especially now, when people think three times before making any type of changes in their business – it is not impossible.
How to handle it:
Now is your time to ask them questions:
- What do you like about the agencies you work with currently?
This will enable you to show them what you do differently (and better!)
- How long have you worked with these agencies?
It could just be a case of them working with them for so long they haven’t bothered looking elsewhere and this is where you can wow them with your fresh USP’s!
- Do you have a PSL?
Some companies will only work with companies approved on their PSL – but you can find out when their PSL is up for renewal and how you can apply.
‘We want to wait until the market stabilizes.’
This is an objection that recruiters might be hearing more and more in the recent months. With all the sudden shifts and unpredictability, it’s hard to know what’s coming next. A lot of business took onboard a strategy of simply waiting it out.
How to handle it:
Be empathetic - everyone is a little worried with the talk of instability in the market. Knowing the market for your specific niche is key - some are more unstable than others, but proving you understand it could be an issue and coming across as knowledgeable will help you gain trust. Even if you don’t win them over this time, you will be remembered – keep nurturing them with valuable content so that they turn to you as soon as they are ready to hire!
If you want to dive deeper - here is an eBook that covers creating a winning sales pitch from start to finish!
Awesome Aussie Beth is an experienced recruiter and Growth Executive here at Firefish. She has a huge love of the industry and a real passion for helping recruiters to change the way they recruit.