4 Things Clients Say and What They're Really Thinking

One of the hardest things about doing BD is knowing what your clients and prospects are thinking when you’re selling to them – particularly because so often they say one thing but mean another! But being able to better sense what your prospects are thinking is a skill that will help you have better control of your sales calls and yield you better results.

Here are some common things clients say, what they really mean, and most importantly – how to take control of the situation to get you the outcome you want.

“We don’t have the budget to use recruiters right now” 

Let’s be honest, everyone has the budget to work with recruiters if they really want to (particularly during a talent shortage like we’re seeing now). When you hear this, you’re being fobbed off – but why?

What they really mean: “I don’t need your help, I can fill the roles myself for free”

How to address this: First of all, it’s important to remember that it’s always going to be a client’s priority to fill the job in-house before they’re willing to spend cash on outsourcing recruitment. Respect this by not being too pushy, but ask yourself if you’ve demonstrated how valuable your services could really be to them.

For example, you could offer to give them some information on two or three of your top candidates (completely anonymised, of course – don’t leave yourself open to backdoor hires!) so they can compare your people against the candidates they already have.

This means you’re offering the client a back-up if they struggle to fill the role themselves and you have the chance to show off the calibre of candidates on your recruitment CRM.

You probably don’t have the chance to work this job, but if your candidates are good and you handle this conversation respectfully, you might hear from them again in the near future.

“I don’t have time to speak to you”

You’ve been calling and calling, and finally you get the decision maker on the phone… and they hit you with this! As frustrating as this can be, take a step back and consider what this response really means.

What they really mean: “I’m not sold / You’re being too pushy.” 

How to address this: The first thing you need to accept here is that the call is not going well. To salvage the situation, you need to stop selling, accept defeat respectfully and try to end on a good note so the opportunity stays open for the future. If you do this, you might still have a chance of a productive conversation further down the line.

However, if they say, “I don’t have time right now, but call me again in a couple of weeks”, this is much more positive and you can definitely turn things around sooner. Just make sure you’re totally prepared to impress them on that follow-up call, because you won’t get a third chance!

“We don’t need a candidate like that at the moment”

You’re buzzing to merchandise in a sh*t hot candidate to your call list, but the first person you speak to hits you with this. Don’t feel too disheartened – it might sound like the door is closing in your face, but that’s not necessarily the case.

What they mean: “We don’t need that candidate”

How to address this: You’ve demonstrated you do have great candidates and the client can see you know what you’re doing, but you’re selling them a spoon when they need a fork. You’re still set up for a win – all you need to do is find out what type of candidates they are looking.

Ask an open question about their current recruitment needs to find out if there’s something you can help them with. Try something like: “I appreciate you’re not recruiting a candidate with those types of skills, but what type of candidate profile are you looking for at the moment?”

From here you can take on the job and start building a shortlist for their open requirements.

“The job’s already at offer stage, but send over a candidate shortlist anyway”

After what feels like endless hours of BD, you’re buzzing to get a positive result and you’re already counting the commission in your head.  But don’t get too excited, this isn’t as good as it sounds…

What they really mean: Here’s something to get you off the phone”

How to address this: Don’t spend the rest of your afternoon selling this job to your candidates when it’s pretty much already filled.

Take a step back - this job is a waste of your time and selling it to your candidates might even damage your reputation if your best people are instantly rejected for a job they’re qualified for.

Tell the client if the current offer isn’t successful, you’ll be happy to send over a shortlist. Doing this will help build a positive relationship for the future as the client will appreciate your honesty and you’ll be able to spend your time more efficiently working on jobs you can actually fill.

If you want more tips on how to update your sales strategy, download our eBook below:

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Sophie Cunningham

Sophie is a Content Marketer here at Firefish! After working as a 360 Recruiter she found her perfect niche here at Firefish writing about recruitment.

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