Clients love to pay fees, at least they do when they feel they are getting a value that is greater or equal than what they’re paying. If you can show a client your value, then you’ll never have to lower your fees. Why should you? But everyone else is, you might respond, and they can hire people cheaper through a competitor that works at a lower fee. Perhaps. But if they work through a competitor, then they don’t get YOU. YOU are a very large part of the equation, more than you might even realize. YOU are the reason this business never has been and never will be a commodity. It is an intensely difficult profession and an intensely personal one.
This people placing business is indeed a people business. And your clients are making a decision about working with you based on a certain hierarchy.
- First, they are judging your competence. They want to know that you can do what you say you are going to do.
- Secondly, they are judging your character. In their minds you might be able to bring them a great candidate, but are you going to stand behind your replacement if something happens to the candidate during the time of the guarantee period? They want to know that you’re not going to turn into a flake when you get called on the carpet.
- And third, they want to know that they will enjoy working with you. Will they look forward to your call, or are they dreading hearing the sound of your voice? By understanding this hierarchy, hopefully you can resist the urge to drop your fee every time a client hints at wanting to get a fee reduction.
Here is a step-by-step process to give you a competitive advantage when a prospective client evaluates and compares your search proposal to others:
- Demonstrate your competence in the initial sales phase. Talk to your prospective client with a high level of professionalism. When you say you are going to call back, call back. When you say you are going to send an email or a brochure, then send it out, and follow up to make sure they received it. From the very first time you make contact with a prospective client, you are being evaluated.
- Show specifically how you have helped others. Mention companies, names, and satisfied client responses. If your prospective client has a concern, honor and respect that concern, and give him or her an example of another satisfied client that had the same concern.
- Don’t spout off how your company is known for integrity and other wonderful things in the market. Blah blah blah. Who cares about your company’s reputation. If your company has a reputation in the industry, then the last thing you need to do is bring it up. If you have one, then you don’t need to mention it. If you don’t, then you’re either new, or you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you, or there might be some reason why you have not yet become the talk of the industry. Your client is concerned with you personally and those people who are going to be involved in doing the search work, more so than your company’s values. Tell the client what your personal values are as it relates to business, and why your values are important to you as a person. Remember that this search business is an intensely personal business, and you need to develop that sort of a strong rapport with your prospect.
- Your client will either hire you or someone else. You have no control over the decision that he makes. All you can do is put the odds in your favor. Sometimes the best thing to do once you have presented your case is to say “Call me if I can help.” Forget about selling and selling and selling it. If you can show that you can meet their needs, and do it with a style that feels good to the client, then you don’t need to keep selling them on how wonderful you are.
By showing your core competency to the client as a way that can provide value, you are well on your way to winning more business, keeping your fees high, and your margins healthy.