With ever increasing targets to hit, and competition fiercer than ever, in a tough month it may seem like billing something is better than nothing. That low-margin job that is going to be hard as nails to fill may hit your sales target this month but would you have profited more from walking away? We’ve put together three reasons why you should think twice about taking on business:
1. You Risk Financial Loss
Of course, there is always the risk of loss, but some jobs are worse than others. We’ve all done it, you take on one bit of work at a ludicrously low fee to get in the door with a new client who up until now has had a rigid PSL that you have never been able to get on or around. How did that work out for you? If you sealed the deal and won over a new client, congratulations! More often than not though, if a hiring manager is going outside their PSL it’s likely they’ve struggled to fill the role. This being the case, it’s likely this placement is going to take a good amount of your time. The awesome sales person in you says, ‘’I know we won’t make any money on this one… but if we can impress them on this one then we can get in door for future stuff’’; or maybe they just say‘’I thrive on a challenge, bring it on!’’
Either way, it’s important to take a second and consider whether the short term win will return long-term gains. It’s a tough call as sometimes this is the way to open up a new account, but if you are looking to impress a prospective new client then you need to ensure you can afford to spend the extra time to do it right. If not, walk away.
2. Their Business Will Cost You Too Much Time
One of your best clients is struggling to fill a role outside of your field of experience. They love dealing with you and convince you that – despite your lack of experience in this sector - you are the only person who can save the day. You charge from the meeting with your superhero cape floating behind you, full of their praise and self-confidence!
Very quickly though you find yourself head down, bum up spending 5, 10 or even 20 times the effort than you usually would to find candidates. You fall behind on other projects. You don’t get back to clients and candidates as quickly as you did previously. You start to lose out to your competition. What could you have done without this Albatross hanging around? You would have been much better being direct with your client and explaining to them that they need a specialist. You might even refer them to a colleague who’ll be thankful for the extra business. This way you not only earn the goodwill of your client and colleague, but also free yourself up to do the work that keeps you on top!
3. Failure Could Damage Your Reputation
It’s always good to have a client see you as a trusted advisor that they can count on. Over time this will be good for you, and allow you to secure more of their business than any other recruiter. It’s a model client/recruiter relationship built on trust; you’ve been making decent gross profit on what you are billing and they have built a great team. So what happens if you take on a job placement that’s out of the ordinary and don’t deliver? How does that impact your relationship and future business? Just as with our previous example, you would be better off pointing them in the direction of a colleague who you know will do an excellent job. In doing so you show that you appreciate their trust, and don’t want to let them down. You might even secure further business within your field than you had before!
The key take-away from these three examples is that they can be avoided by giving yourself some breathing space and making a tough call up-front. That tough call doesn’t have to be walking away immediately though, take the time to explain to your client the complexity of the situation. By considering what the impact would be in terms of the your time, your reputation and most importantly your bottom line you can confidently have a conversation with your client and agree what you’ll need in terms of time and fees to take on a job. If they are not ready to listen to that… walk away, they will respect your decision, and you’ve done nothing to harm your current relationship with the client. Most importantly though, you still have time to dedicate to the jobs that strengthen your business and make you money.
Alan is an advisor here at Firefish with experience in both sales and marketing.