Overcome These Common Fee-Based Objections

  By Michael Gionta  |    Wednesday June 28, 2023

Category: Columns, Expert Advice, Recruiting


Mike, I work on a model that is either an exclusive contingency or a deposit-based search. I’ve been running into situations where companies tell me they only work contingency or a stated fee. What are some of the best ways to respond when you hear those fee-based objections?  


Common Fee-Based Objections

As experts in our industry, we hear a handful of these:

We only pay _(fill in the blank)_.   

We don’t do retainers.  

We work with multiple recruiters.   

Your fee is too high.  


I will not spend much time there if somebody says they do not pay fees. I do not have to re-create the wheel. There is enough business out there that you do not have to do that.   


We know we will hear no fee or low-fee objections, so I challenge you to invest time and be 100% prepared. The best way to handle that objection is to take a phenomenal search, the right way, from the beginning. For those of you who are clients or who have bought our retainer product, Module 3 in Retainers for Recruiters is probably an hour long. It is a culmination of my life work; all of the objections I ever heard, all the reasons why clients do what they do, the way they do it. I just began studying and would imagine I am the client. What do I need to understand to work with a recruiter the right way to create a partnership? Versus, what do I need to do as a recruiter to pitch this?


Establish Need and Urgency

Most recruiters need to do a better job of establishing need and urgency*Hint: Asking “how urgent is this job order on a scale of 1 to 5?” does not establish urgency. Instead, try asking, “what are the consequences of this position remaining open?” Dig in deep there. Invest the time in your niche to become a subject matter expert on the roles you fill and the economic value they add. This is the work most recruiters will not do. And you can do most of the research through your marketing and recruiting calls anyway! If you place an XYZ widget engineer, when I am taking datasheets on widget engineers, I would be asking, so, if you were not there, what would happen? What would not get done? How would that impact the company? That is where I am talking about doing the research. Do your research on the calls you already have.   


You might be wondering, Mike, where are you going with this? I just wanted to overcome a fee objection. This is a sophisticated sale. You do not overcome it through rebuttals. We uncover it by setting up the process to win in the first place, by revealing the position, the problems, the consequences for the job remaining open, and what they have done so far to fill it. And not, are you happy with the results from that? It is, “tell me about the results you are getting and tell me what you like and do not like about that process.”   


So, let them whine about the existing recruiters they have already worked with to try to help them fill it. Let them complain about their talent acquisition or HR departments and those results. You are building pain. If there is no pain, they go, oh, no, I have ten people to interview next week. I just thought I would give you a shot. I will likely not be too invested in that search and will likely not be able to overcome that objection because there is no urgency. But what you are most likely seeing in a market like this, where they have low fees, bad terms, and back guarantees, is they are probably getting weak results because the better recruiters are not working on it.   


Overcome Fee-Based Objections with Processes

It is not overcoming the objection. It is having the right process in place. You go through the entire process of everything you will do to fill the role in granular detail.   


Because if you say, we will put together a list of 60 to 80 people. We will reach out to those people seven times through a combination of voicemail, email, text, inmails, over three weeks. Of the 80, we will have talked to 60. Of the 60, statistically, we will speak to a bunch who are interested and not qualified. We are going to talk to a whole bunch that are qualified and not interested because of the timing, because of money due to them, because they love their jobs right, but out of that list are going to fall two or three people that have two things going for them. One, they are in the top 15% or 20% of what they do, and two, we have identified two or three valid reasons for them to make a career change right now. Because we are going to do all that, that represents an investment in the search of 28.6% with a $7,000 upfront deposit.   


Now, Mr. or Ms. Hiring Manager, are you authorized to approve that or do you and I need to talk to someone else? And then the natural objections are going to come. Less than half of my prospective clients accepted the offer when I did everything correctly. Two, they are not always the ones that can approve it. Three is they might be the ones that approve it, but then they go, well, you know, our standard fee is 20%, and we have got 12 other firms that have agreed to it.   


Responding to Objections with Questions

My first response whenever I hear that is, then why are we talking? A dozen firms have agreed to this fee; why are we even talking? Why are you wasting your time with me?   

Oh. We have given it out to two, and we are still waiting to see something.   


My favorite response in that scenario was:   

If I agreed to fill this position for free and did not give you any suitable candidates, tell me how much money I have saved you. The other way to overcome this objection, is to put the fee into perspective.


You told me this would cost you $2 million a week in revenue, and we are talking about an $8,000 difference in fee. I am having trouble making sense of this.


Further the gap by asking, with the other firms that you worked with, what was their process for fulfillment? They will rarely know.   


I do not know. We gave them the search. They agreed to our terms. So, what were your criteria, Mr. or Ms. Employer, for vetting them as the type of firm that could fill the role?  

Well, what do you mean?  


Did you talk to them about previous searches? Did you speak to them about their ability and level of commitment at 20% nonexclusive contingency?   




So, if I am hearing you correctly – This takes a bit of hudspa, a little bit of assertiveness. This is where it takes a little bit of knowing yourself as a recruiter and knowing your niche. This is where it requires you to be a fantastic businessperson.


So, if I am hearing you correctly, a position that has a consequence of XYZ… You are telling me that you had no other vetting than they agreed to your fee, and they sounded okay on the phone? And then you are challenging me as to why I will not accept the lousy terms that have produced no results for you so far? So, you are proposing the same terms that you have offered these other firms that have yet to deliver results. I am coming in. I am fixing this. This is the investment. Not the fee. This is the investment.


You are going to ask questions, I promise you, that 99% of the industry are not asking, and the 1%, a significant percentage of the ones that do, are people that have been trained and coached by us. Nobody taught me this. The only reason I started doing it was I started scratching my head and going, how do I sound different than all these other recruiters? How do I make a better business case to work with me than all the other options they have?   

I hope that helps. It is a phenomenal question.


Fee-Based Objections are Just 1 of the 4 Common Objections


Watch the video above to learn how TRU Coach Pam Winholtz overcomes the four most common objections from hiring managers.


P.S. Whenever you’re ready… here are 4 ways I can help you grow your recruitment business:


1. Grab a free copy of my Retainer Blueprint

It’s the exact, step-by-step process of getting clients to give you money upfront. https://get.therecruiteru.com/lm​


2. Join the Recruiter Think Tank and connect with firm owners who are scaling too It’s our Facebook community where smart recruiters learn to make more money and get more freedom. https://www.facebook.com/groups/there​​…


3. Join me at our next event

3x a year, I run a 3-day virtual intensive, sharing the 9 key areas that drive a 7-figure search firm. Click here to check out the dates of our upcoming event: https://get.therecruiteru.com/emerge


4. Work with me and my team privately

And if you ever want to get some 1:1 help, we can jump on the phone for a quick call, and brainstorm how to get you more leads, more placements, and more time. https://get.therecruiteru.com/scale-now​

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