From Contingent to Retained: The Five Steps in Developing your Value Proposition of Going to Retained

  By Jon Bartos  |    Tuesday June 12, 2019

Category: Expert Advice, Productivity


Anytime someone is looking to make the change from Contingent search to Retained search, they need to really start by looking at the business relationship from the client’s viewpoint.  Why in the world would an existing or prospective client pay you 1/3rd of your fee upfront,  give you  exclusivity and pay you a higher fee when they have all these Contingency Recruiters willing to do it for a lower fee at the end of the process?   The answer to that question is they wouldn’t. Unless you have a strong Value Proposition for going that direction.   In other words, the key is to help them understand it’s a no brainer reason why they need to go to Retained search and NOW!


No one will pay you money upfront, give you exclusivity, or pay you more than a contingency recruiter unless you have a very specific value to going in that direction or you are solving a severe problem.  There are five simple steps to help you find the Value Proposition for you, so that your client will take YOU by the hand and run you in the direction of retained Search.


1. Put Yourself in Your Clients Shoes

I get calls from recruiters or owners who do not want to take my 10 week or even four-hour workshops on taking your desk to retained search.  They always ask me, “Can you just send me your script?”.   Ladies and gentlemen, going to retained search is not about a script, it’s about a solution to a problem.  The first step is to put yourself in your client’s shoes and try to figure out what the problem is.  Remember, if there is a need – a realized need or an unrealized need for your recruiting services, there is no reason to do business.   If your client feels its ok to have one out of two mis hires or thinks it’s normal an interview a bunch of B and C players and finally pick the best out of the worst – then you do not have a realized need.  You need to put yourself in your client’s shoes to understand their business from their perspective.  That means asking questions.


2. Define the Business Problem at Hand

All organizations struggle to hire top performers in any market.  Whether it’s a booming economy or your right in the middle of tough recession, most companies do not know how or have the infrastructure to hire top performers.  In order to define the hiring business problem each company is struggling with; we need to ask great questions and get to the tertiary level of understanding to define the problem and work with them on solving that problem.  To do that – we need to ask great questions.  Here are some of my favorite questions to uncover the hiring business problem at hand.


· How long is it taking you to fill mission critical openings?

· Are you seeing the very best candidates, the top 10% performers in the industry for every mission critical role?  Why not do you think?

· Are you hiring the very best of the best in these roles?

· How often are you running out of time and needing to put “less then the best” talent aboard instead of waiting to find the top performers?

· According to Brad Smart – “A” players the top 10% talent performs at 8-10 times more than that of even a “B” player.   What percentage of your team are true “A” players?


3. Define the pain and the true costs of current talent sourcing and hiring methodologies

It’s important, once you find out a problem or many problems, to really define it and determine what it’s costing them in the long run to have this problem.   This helps to really help the prospective client know the true pain and costs the organization is incurring by staying with ineffective methodologies of sourcing, interviewing and onboarding.  Here are some questions to help pinpoint that pain and costs.


· What are some of the issues your organization is experiencing by not bringing on the right talent in mission critical roles?

· Is there a monetary figure in terms of Costs due to nonperforming Talent?   Not achieving objectives, Jobs not being performed, products late to market, company missing goals, profitability, revenue or growth targets?

· OUCH!  That’s got to hurt.  Where is this on the priority level to solve so the organization can stop the bleeding?


Once the business problems are defined, understood and costs are determined – the pain should be evident to the hiring manager as well as the company’s management personnel.  The more you can maximize the pain, the greater the sense of urgency they will have to quickly solve the problem.  And your fee at 30%-50% of first year salary is a simply a drop in the bucket of water, based on the true costs of poor hiring and recruiting practices that are robbing the organization. 


4. Transition Statement  

The tough part is done.  The last two steps are easy peasy compared to the last two steps of the process.   The transition is simply a verbal sales contract, that says – If I can solve this problem, does it make sense to execute our solution?   Here is my Transition Statement I use when needed.  Please modify it to fit your situation and the specific problems you will be resolving with your prospective clients.


· “ If I can show you a way,  that instead of continuing to bring on board 1 out of 2 mis hires, like the industry average, and show you how to bring 9 out of 10 top performers on board,  allowing to resolve those costs we discussed earlier, would that make sense for us to explore together?



5. Show Them the Way

If you did the right job in steps 1-3, 4 is a no brainer reason to work with you.  You do have to have the solution to the problem, however.  You can’t promise it if you can’t deliver.   This is where I explain a few things: 

· Contingent search exacerbates the problem.  It’s a speed-based process, that focuses on key words, not top performers.  

· The Proprietary process I will take you through is called TRACCS, that focuses on performance that are mission critical in each role.  

· We will find the top performers, validate they have the Track Record of a top performer, Recent Experience, Cultural fit, Career Path match and Skillsets of Top performers.

· We will help you choose best top performer out of several top performers versus the best selection from not the best candidate pool.  


If you do not define the problem and show them a solution to the problem, they will not have a reason to run hand in hand with you down the retained search path.  If you need help in either a proprietary process to do this or need help in transitioning – Sign up now for Jon Bartos Workshop.  


Jon has helped over 400 companies go from contingent to retained and it has changed their lives.   You can do the same.  Good luck and good recruiting!!    Jon can be reached at or 513-515-1267

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