I am going to tell you a story that might shock you as a recruiter…but might help you too!!
I have been speaking with a large well-known client for some time. They were dissatisfied with their current recruitment vendor and have voiced concern a number of times. So what is the obvious thing to do? Jump on the attack and sign them up for my superior service??
Well no. I did just the opposite and I will tell you why it created a better client relationship if you can hear me out.
First, instead of jumping on a client who already had voiced some trust issues with recruitment vendors, I just listened to him talk about what wasn’t working. (Remember the tips on using Emotional Intelligence from an earlier article??)
Second, bear with me here, I actually proposed a few things that might help to make the current relationship better. Yes, you heard it right. I actually tried to help the client fix a relationship with another vendor!! (Feel free to skip this step if it sounds too difficult to you)
Third, I told the client that I sympathized with how difficult it is to end a relationship with a vendor even when they are underperforming and not meeting his needs. (Back to using our Emotional Intelligence tool kit again!)
Fourth, I booked a follow-up call with him, just to brainstorm further for 2 weeks out. (This is a very important step)
Guess what happened? He called me back less than 1 week later and said that they had ended the partnership with the underperforming vendor and was excited about working with me and my team. He went on to say that he appreciated my patience with him and my approach which was not pushy and very professional. I went in and signed a retainer agreement on a key search project. Does that sound counter-intuitive? It may but with practice it will make you more successful and make your work more enjoyable too!!.
As recruiters, we have been trained to hunt down our clients. But this offensive strategy can often push them further away from us. When we focus on their needs first, we draw clients to us and move from Me to We which builds long term trusting relationships that are more profitable and fulfilling. It is hard to stop the impulse to pounce on the Job Order or go for the vendor agreement as soon as possible. This approach reminds me of a well-known psychology study on children where they were offered 1 cookie right away or 2 cookies if they could wait for 10 minutes to see if they could control the impulse to grab the cookie on the table in front of them. This whole ME to WE concept is certainly “food for thought” and can be a great way to build better client relationships. Giving up the short term gratification of “one cookie” (1 Jon Order) and waiting for the whole “cookie jar” (Trusted Advisor relationship) takes more time, patience and commitment but is worth the effort for your success as a recruiter.