Whatever you're selling - I have comments.

I came across this blog post written by Ken Forrester and I just had to comment.  Because my comments are detailed in nature, it made sense to create a new blog post on the particular subject.  I am new to RB and I‘ve never been paid to place anyone.  My comments are outlined in red.

Whatever You’re Selling, I’m not Buying!

This is exactly what goes through the mind of a passive job seeker when the Headhunter calls to make him/her aware of the exciting job opportunity of a lifetime. Actually this is a defensive reaction whenever anyone truly believes that he/she is being sold. It could be a product, a service or even their time. But they sincerely believe that they don’t have a need especially for something that will end up costing them something of value they really don’t want to part with.

How could you possibly know what goes through the mind of a passive job seeker?  Besides which, how naïve of you to think that the job you’re peddling is “exciting” and, more importantly, do you really think it’s an “opportunity of a lifetime???????!!!!!!!  The only reason someone believes they’re being “sold” is because the person presenting a “reasonable” opportunity is totally inept and makes it sound as if they’re trying to get you to buy a vacuum cleaner that would just add to your already collection of several vacuum cleaners.  You shouldn’t be selling anything!!  Find your prospect’s needs, and/or current perspective of what they are currently doing and then make a presentation that tweeks (don’t think of Twitter, I didn’t say tweet) their curiousity and motivates them to engage in conversation to further illustrate the benefits of the opportunity.

Can you blame them, especially today when people can be so easily found, especially on social networks like LinkedIn?

Let’s get back to the recruitment of the passive job seekers for a moment!

Clearly he/she does not have a need for another job because they have a job and a very good one indeed. Most likely, they were recruited into that present job, they had to compete with hundreds of other applicants to get the job offer, they had a lengthy decision making process prior to accepting that job offer, they are receiving positive feedback on their performance, a career path to the next level has been established, they like the people they work with, and a host of other reasons.

Again, how can you say “clearly” that they have no need.  It could be true, but how disheartening to think that you know something about this person when in fact, unless you have probed their mind effectively, you don’t really know if in fact they really do have a “very good” job.  I think you are remiss, once again, to assume they had to “compete with hundreds of other applicants.”  Why dwell on your problems as a recruiter and incorporate your past, or present, sales rejections into a standard of thought for a prospective applicant.  You are entering into this opportunity with preconceived notions that might, or might not, be applicable.

Now, here’s the Headhunter, someone they don’t know calling them about a new job. Why should they care; why should they risk playing games with their livelihood, for something that someone else thinks is good for them.

Because, if presented in an interestng and exciting format, the average person – whether you’re referring to employment or widgets – will take notice if the offer is interesting, different and/or beneficial for a variety of reasons.

What they will tell Headhunter is that they are not looking for anything right now, but what they are actually thinking is: “whatever you’re selling, I’m not buying”

There you go again, finding a reason why your job is uniquely difficult.  Whatever you’re selling?? Most people don’t feel comfortable buying something from Willy Loman (Death of a Saleman), but they might engage in Q&A’s if they are “presented” with a reason to consider what is being offered to them.  Are you a salesman or a purveyor of opportunity?  I agree with you, whatever YOU’RE selling, I’m not buying.

I wrote a piece on this subject explaining that passive candidates are apprehensive when approached about a possible job change. They are skeptical because they are not sure how the job will add value to their career or personal interest. And a passive candidate most likely will not take the first step until trust has been established with the headhunter.

It might have something to do with trust, but more importantly, it has to do with how the opportunity is presented and how it will benefit and/or improve the prospects position.  Remember the expression, “wifm!” – what’s in it for me? 

Here is the most recent trend especially among the younger workers: you are irrelevant if you are not in their network!

Perhaps, but offer them a better opportunity and they’ll put you in their “network.”  If you’re like every other Headhunter, what’s their motivation to put you in their network?

By network, I mean-you are not locked into their mobile phones, you weren’t friended on Facebook and they didn’t add you as a connection on LinkedIn. Bottom line is-you are a stranger and they don’t trust strangers. They won’t talk to strangers, especially about sensitive matters that their financial existence depends on.

Really?? I think not. They will always speak with you, stranger or not (unless you’re asking them to get into a van with no windows) if you can tweak (there’s that word again) interest.  The problem lies with the fact that when you view yourself as trying to “sell” them a different employment opportunity, your “opportunity of a lifetime” sounds like a sales pitch.  If it walks like, talks like, and quacks like a duck . . . !  Also, everyone will speak about “sensitive” matters if they think they will benefit – there again – if they won’t speak with you about employment, perhaps you should consider selling shoes with Al Bundy!

So picking up the phone and dialing for dollars has been one sure method for generating sales activities, but it’s just not as effective in today’s digital world. To get positive results from cold calling efforts, you need a strategy. And one where the phone call is not the entry point to making a sale/placement.

The new entry point today is your on-line profile, blog, website or a social presence’ anything that will answer questions (without your presence) about who you are and that will add value to you as a trusted advisor and an expert in your craft.

This might be true (the operative word is “might”)  for a candidate that is actively looking for another job.  There are two (2) types of prospects; one prospect is actively pursuing a change of employment (a need exists), the other type of prospect is one that’s not actively looking to change companies (no need exists).  Each requires a different set of presentations (I won’t use the term “sales” because most people who sell make it sound like they’re selling) and possibly a different “entry point.”

As Tony Montana stated from the movie “Scarface” to get the women-you first need to make the money-money get the power and the power attracts women. To recruit passive candidates through cold calling-you need to first build credibility. I disagree.  You  first need to get them interested and/or engaged (you’re watching too many movies if you think Tony Montana is worth quoting). Credibility is similar to trust; but trust cannot be bought-it has to be earned.

Again, I must disagree (although you’d be disappointed in me if I didn’t).   You first need to get them interested and/or engaged (you're watching too many movies if you think Tony Montana is worth quoting). Credibility has nothing to do with trust.  I may respect your credentials, have researched your existence and decided to listen to your offer – that’s a far cry from “trusting” you to do the right thing, be able to deliver on promises and other things like keeping my best interest as your focus, etc..

There’s no easy way-you must invest time in building credibility in their Industry to effectively play at a high level in this game, especially today.

Well, that’s the clincher – you really have missed the point.  Do you think listing your credentials on LinkedIn will get a prospect to sit up and take notice?  Or, do you think if you were presenting a more enticing, interesting, ambitious “widget” the prospect will likely listen.  From that point, your “credibility” has nothing to do with the transaction.  Think of yourself as the prospect.  If I came to you with an employment opportunity would you be as concerned with my credentials –or- would you listen to my presentation about the opportunity, the nature and type of company, and then evaluate the opportunity.  Who cares if you’re on parole – I’m intelligent enough to understand that you’re not the one hiring me, nor are you the one with the opportunity – you’re simply the one who knows about it and can get me more details (and possibly an interview).  You have to view the factors a candidate will ponder in a different order.  That’s what a sales coach can do for you.  Interestingly, I am such a coach.

Lastly, in reading some of the comments from your fellow Headhunters I’m not surprised that they would think you were “spot on!”  That brings to mind the cliché of being to close to the forrest to see the trees.  Careful, not many people have the ability to “snatch the pebble.”


Views: 208

Comment by Sandra McCartt on March 3, 2012 at 7:06pm

If i were going to try and sell sales coaching to a bunch of recruiters this would not be the way i would do it....just sayin.


"There’s no easy way-you must invest time in building credibility in their Industry to effectively play at a high level in this game, especially today. Well, that’s the clincher – you really have missed the point. "

Comment by Stephen Greenberg on March 4, 2012 at 11:56am

I appreciate your comments.  First, kudos to catching that last paragraph.  There was an error and thanks to your astute observation, I went back and made the correction.  Your quote, "There's not easy . . .," should have been in black - not red!!  That was the blogger's quote and not mine.  Scarry, but that means you felt the same way about this statement as I did.

Lastly, my comments were not meant to be demeaning nor insulting and I apologize if that's the way it came off. Throughout my entire training and coaching career I've tried to inject levity and light-heartedness into my writings and training.  Again, I'm sorry if you interpreted it any other way. 

Thanks for your comments.  I'll let you know if others appear to be offended by my bluntness (if you want me to).

Comment by Sandra McCartt on March 4, 2012 at 12:30pm
I agree with ken's comment and was trying to make a point with you. It has been my experience when I am trying to sell into an industry I don't know anything about, I don't get a lot of traction by telling th people in that industry they don't know what they are talking about.

Offended, no. Surprised by the arrogance of ignorance here, yes. If we took the approach with our clients you have taken here we would get pebbles, they would be thrown at us as we ran for the door.
Comment by Stephen Greenberg on March 4, 2012 at 12:42pm

Again, I'm disappointed that your interpretation was not favorable.  I am pleased with the positive comments I"ve received but respect your opinion.  Just a brief comment on your statement relative to selling into an industry I'm not familiar with.  That makes my point about not seeing the trees in the forest.  Sales techniques, processes and effective selling ability transcends product and/or service.  Also, Ken had sent me this blog for my review after he posted it.  I emailed him my comments in red.  He contacted me and said that he not only fell off his chair with amusement, but he found my comments to be excellent.  He asked if I would mind posting them on the RB site.

Please don't miss my point in communicating that to you - you're certainly entitled to your opinion and interpretation.  Which begs the point that perception becomes reality, and I respect that. I'm not trying to spar with you, I'm simply responding to your comments. Great picture - I love the hat.


Keep your comments coming.  Everyone's feedback just makes me improve.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on March 4, 2012 at 5:54pm
We just got to the point where, I'm not buying what you're selling and I totally disagree about sales ability transcending industry and/or product knowledge. Which is why , in my experience a lot of "sales talent" does not make it in recruiting. The ones who do make it build their credibility and trust with their clients by knowledge and producing and not selling. The spin sellers burn out and are the ones who give this industry a lot of the bad rep we fight with each passive candidate. In fact I disagree with most of your comments and the pitch.

So I'll be hanging up the phone on this one, never have had much problem seeing the forest for the trees.
Comment by Stephen Greenberg on March 5, 2012 at 12:08pm

Selling techniques are universal and do transcend product or service.  If sales techniques and traits were specific to each industry and service there would not be all those sales books on the shelves, all those blogs and webinars offering to train anyone who is responsible for sales, nor would I be able to do the various seminars for industries from shutter manufacturers, financial planners, real estate brokers - and many other industries.  Yes, it's imperative for a sales person to be well-versed about their product or service - but that's just not as important as having sales and presentation skills.  Of course "spin sellers" will usually crash and burn but that's not what I'm discussing.  I guarantee if a recruiter attended one of my sales seminars they could leave the room and immediately effectively employ some of the techniques I've discussed.  It's not "smoke and mirrors," selling is a discipline that needs to be learned.  Selling can be analagous to driving. A lot of people have a driver's license but are still terrible drivers. Lastly, I don't make "pitches," like yourself, I offer people opportunities.


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