Why Did My Potential Client Disappear?

Hi everyone! So, I just started a new job in April with a GREAT firm. I am now responsible for working both sides of the desk. This is my first experience with client development, so I wanted some helpful tips. I met a director of HR for a local company at a professional networking event. She told me she was looking for a corporate recruiter that has experience specific to the industry she works in. Within a day, I found her an AMAZING candidate (name blocked out of course because at that point, there was no fee agreement in place). She picked up the phone and was excited about the resume I sent to her. I sent her the fee agreement and her interest level seemed to drop from 10 to 0. She said she forwarded the agreement to legal, then that was the last I heard from her. I'm wondering what I did wrong and how you all handle situations like these. It will be going on a week now and I don't want to lose my star candidate.Thank you in advance! 

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Comment by Trevor Walker on May 21, 2013 at 10:42am
I've always assumed that the candidate doesn't match what the line manager wants (very different from HR). Try sending a different candidate, maybe deeper skill set. There is always a chance they are not responding until they consider their own options, where a fee isn't attached.
Comment by Linda Ferrante on May 21, 2013 at 11:31am

My guess would be your eagerness may have caught her off guard.  Did she actually ASK you to find her a candidate?  Sometimes people are just making conversation.....

I would assume that if you didn't meet with the client, at their location, talk to her about her needs/wants, etc., that all you found her was a recruiter her industry.  Without digging deeper with the potential client, I would wonder if maybe she already knew this person, didn't like the company they came from, knew from the background it wouldn't be a good cultural fit, etc.  There are too many variables in this scenario, but as a seasoned recruiter, I feel like you jumped the gun on presenting a candidate without fully vetting the potential client.  It could be best to chalk this up to a lesson learned.

Using the 'I'll forward it to legal' could be her 'out' in this case.  Just a thought......

Comment by Cristina Lewis on May 21, 2013 at 11:46am

Hi Linda. She actually gave me her card and asked if I'd be able to help her and I said yes. I offered to go to her location to talk about her needs, see the company, and get a vibe for the culture but she didn't really acknowledge my offer to go and meet with her. She just kept corresponding with me via e-mails.

When I sent her my candidate, she immediately picked up the phone and left a message saying, "I like his resume. When can we set up an interview?" I unfortunately missed the called, but when I received the message I called her back right away. The moment I sent her the fee agreement, she disappeared. I suppose I am just confused because she seemed to be very interested. Hmmmm...

Comment by Chris Bailey on May 21, 2013 at 12:18pm

Hi Christina, many clients become embarrassed when they realise they are not going to get sign off for an external hire. Indeed many companies have an embargo on using agencies, there are ways round this but thats another blog topic :) In your instance, if you cannot get her on the phone I would send her a nice email explaining that the candidate was equally excited to meet with them however it appears you are no longer interested, ask her did you do anything wrong and is there a remedy to the situation or for working together in the future. I often find clients respond well to humility and give them an option not to loose face if they have made a boob. Just my opinion :)

Comment by Cristina Lewis on May 21, 2013 at 12:41pm

Hi Chris. I like this response and I agree with you. I've only been in this industry for a year but I can already see that HR/managers don't like pushy or obnoxious agency recruiters lol. I think humility, patience, and "taking it down a notch" can be beneficial. It's more in my personality to be this way, too. A lot of sales training will tell you different, though. Thanks for the response :)

Comment by Sandra McCartt on May 21, 2013 at 1:04pm
Fee should have been discussed before you sent or recruited a candidate. It sounds like to me she got your fee agreement and discovered it was higher than what the company is willing to pay. I would call or send her an email and ask if there is a problem with the fee or the guarantee. At the time she asked you to find her someone was the time to say, "our fee schedule is x with a guarantee period of y, is that in line with what your company pays for external recruiting. You don't have a client until they have agreed to your fee schedule or you have agreed to what they pay.

It may simply be that she has sent your agreement to legal and is waiting for their approval and doesn't want to tell you that she fired from the hip a little by not duscussing with you.

Just ask , if you don't hear anything let it simmer. Tell your candidate that you are waiting for approval and HR is waiting for approval. All you can do is tell the candidate the truth.
Comment by Cristina Lewis on May 21, 2013 at 1:08pm

Good call. I just didn't want to seem "money hungry" to her off the bat and had the mindset of "before money is discussed, I will show you the quality of work I provide" so she can see the value I have to offer. I have a lot to learn.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on May 21, 2013 at 1:28pm
We work for a fee. Discussing the price of a service is not being money hungry. Think of it this way. If you are going to buy anything or retain a professional to perform a service you will ask the cost. She should have also asked you your fee schedule but when she didn't you should have said, "we charge x% of the starting salary, is that acceptable to your company?". At that point she might have said, " send me a copy of your agreement" or "oh, we only pay y%"

It is not money hungry to discuss the cost of something. If you were looking for someone to clean your house or mow your lawn you would ask them how much they charge before you told them to go to work. She didn't so it was up to you to let her know. If you told someone you needed your lawn mowed they said "great", got out the mower and started work, then told you it would cost more than what you could or wanted to pay, what would you do?

You don't discuss cost after a service has been performed. Makes for bad assumptions and aborted efforts on both sides. Money is always discussed up front.
Comment by Cristina Lewis on May 21, 2013 at 1:50pm

I never looked at it that way. LOL No, I would never have someone mow my lawn without finding out the cost first but it's the exact same thing, really. I'll get it right one day. Doing this sort of thiing in the real world is better than learning from a book or a training seminar. I consider myself a business woman in training for now :) Thanks for giving it to me straight, Sandra! :)

Comment by Jeremy Spring on May 21, 2013 at 2:33pm

Yeah, that's an irksome situation.  Sandra nailed it--"don't discuss cost after a service is performed."  I might add, it's super important to close new clients on the total value YOU will add in the partnership before you perform the service.  Otherwise (and I think what's happening here), the prospect will feel that you're simply offering a very expensive resume.  Of course you're more than a sourcer and pusher of expensive paperwork. Your fees are fair for the services you will inevitably perform, but she doesn't know that yet.  I never liked the blind resume sales technique and advise my team never to send out blind resumes.  There isn't a resume on earth (other than your own, maybe) that adequately summarizes the value you can add to a client.


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