For most recruiters, the client meeting is key. It is in a face-to-face meeting that the magic happens. This is where your credibility, and the business, is won or lost. It’s here that a recruiter can win exclusivity, secure multiple temp orders, and resolve pricing and service dilemmas.
In fact a great deal of a recruiters time is spent securing the visit. Planning, cold calling, referrals.
Yet, too often, the visit is a wasted opportunity at best, and an unmitigated disaster at worse.
There are many reasons a client meeting can go belly-up, and some of them may not even be the recruiters fault. But, too often it is one or all of these reasons that a client meeting is a wasted opportunity.
- Wrong target market. Firstly, make sure the meeting is worth having at all! Yes, that’s right. Is the potential client in your target market? Do they use recruiters? Are they a long-term prospect with ongoing hiring needs? Are you seeing the decision-maker? A visit for its own sake is a sad waste of time. Think before you meet
- Lack of preparation. This is so common, and so avoidable, it almost brings me to tears. We have our huge chance to see the CEO or the Marketing Director of a massive client. It’s our one big shot. So much hinges on it. It has taken months to secure the meeting. And what do we do to prepare? Nothing! You need to do everything you can to give yourself an edge in that meeting. Yes, do the standard research on the company and its products. But also Google search the person you are meeting. Find out their history. If they have given a presentation that’s online – read it. Press releases are to be studied. Check out the LinkedIn profile. But there needs to be more too. Who are this company’s clients? Who are their competitors? How are their trading results? I saw a CEO of a large communications group two weeks ago and I Googled a YouTube video of him being interviewed in the week he started in the role. He explained his vision and his plans. How much do you think that helped me in framing my questions and my comments during the meeting? We got on like a house on fire. And your planning needs to be micro too. How long will it take you to get to the client site? Trivial you think? Not at all. A client meeting is stressful enough without arriving 20 minutes late. Why put the client off-side before you have even met her! Check your database too. Have we worked with client before? Was the client contact actually a candidate of ours once? Knowledge is power. Get the knowledge!
- Fix your attitude. That’s right. Give yourself a sharp uppercut before the meetings starts. Don’t be subservient. Don’t be apologetic. Yes, your client is a senior executive who is expert in his field. But you are a professional recruiter who is expert in yours! Act like an expert. Not arrogant. But confident. The client relationship is peer to peer. It is a partnership – not slave and master!
- Structure. Many recruiters conduct a visit like a pinball in a pinball machine. I have seen it a thousand times. All over the place with questions and anecdotes. Trying to sell, then asking questions. It’s a disaster! You have to have a plan. You are controlling the meeting. Subtly, yes, but still you know where it’s going. And you make sure it starts with the client talking about his company and his responsibility, and then you lead it to his team and his staffing mix. Then you guide it on to hiring challenges and his recruiter likes and dislikes. Then on to specific opportunities and finally, only after all this has been done, do you talk about your service and how you can solve the clients issues. Structure. Plan. Agenda.
- Poor questioning skills. Oh yes! In this industry we are great talkers. I am no slouch myself. Ask anyone at Firebrand! But actually the secret to a great client meeting is asking great questions. Most client meetings fail because the recruiter does not ask questions at all. Or asks the wrong ones. Or wimps out on the important ones.
- Talking ratios. Guess what? Good client visit? Client talks 80% of the time. You talk 20%. Job done.
- Missing the needs. Often, we are so anxious to ‘sell’. So quick to leap on a client comment and tell her how we would handle the situation, so desperate to include all our differentiators, that we actually miss the clients ‘hot button’. The pain point. The key need she needs solved.
- Poor closing skills. Only the other day I had one of my new recruiters tell me they thought asking for the business at the end of a client visit was ‘too pushy’. FFS! Why do you think you are actually there? For the cup of tea? A great client visit, well structured, where all questions have been asked, needs unearthed, objections resolved, and our offering clearly sold… must end with you asking for the next order. If you don’t do that, or cant do that, guess what?
You just wasted the whole exercise