Imagine the situation; you are single and the person that you fancy comes up to you and says,
“I am thinking of cheating on my partner. The sex is OK but I think I can do better. Would you be interested?”
You might jump at the chance and say “yes please”. Then they would say “that’s great, but there is a catch. I need you to go away and do your hair, buy some smarter clothes and lose some weight. Oh, and by the way, I am also asking 4/5 other potential partners as well”
Now what would you say? The likelihood is you would say “NO, who do you think I am? I am better than that” and if you did not say NO your friends would tell you to.
Yet every day most of the recruitment industry says “YES” to these type of relationships with clients and your friends pat you on the back and say well done!
To compound the issue after you have done your hair, bought some clothes and lost some weight, the potential partner says “thanks but I had great sex last night with my partner so we are going to give it another try. Thanks for your effort though”
This is because too many recruiters are fixated on “working vacancies” rather than getting “paid” for their time.
I spend most of my days talking to recruiters and their managers. Whilst the common perception is that life as a recruiter is all champagne and bonuses, the reality is that most work hard for a pretty low return for their time and effort.
The cause of this is that the industry has changed out of almost all recognition in the last 10 years. Most agencies have not adapted their business model to suit the times.
Too many agencies have a business model that focuses on ‘quick sex’ rather than a deeper and “longer term relationship”. It is all about speed vs quality. Their model depends on finding candidates on a job board, getting them across faster than everyone else, then charging 20% and making 2 placements a month.
The reality of the current market is that ”quick sex’ is what internal recruitment teams are there to stop. This means that “quick sex” is increasingly hard to come by. Instead, agencies invest high levels of effort in hard to source vacancies even before they get a date, let alone sex. Even when they do have sex they think “that was an awful lot of running for 10 minutes of joy!”
Too many consultants are stuck in inequitable relationships, where they are not valued, treated poorly, the sex is infrequent and of poor quality.
Is this the fault of the clients? No, who would offer to pay more when there are plenty that will deliver the product for less.
It is the fault of the recruiter. They accept that bad sex is better than the prospect of great sex. This is because they do not have the will, capability or confidence to go and find more equitable relationships.
Whilst many firms have tried to adapt by becoming niche specialists, too many still sign up to PSLs where they get low levels of loyalty, low fees and poor fill rates.
Why is this?
Two main reasons:
1: They have a culture where business development is something they do when they have no jobs, rather than a daily focus
2: Business development is just smashing the phones all morning. It should be a blend of social media, email, phone and face to face to nurture high quality relationships.
So what is the answer?
The successful agencies I see do proactive business development every day, and not just by billers but by the whole organisation. This means admin spotting candidates that have just left jobs and passing leads, marketing using content to start, nurture and add value to existing relationships. It is important that consultants look to add value to clients by sharing market intelligence and not just focusing on the next vacancy.
Why do they do this even when they have lots of jobs? Because when they do proactive BD every day they can CHOOSE which clients they invest their time into.
They have the luxury of choosing to spend 90% effort in to clients who want an equitable and mutually beneficial relationship. The good news is these clients are also happy to pay a premium fee for a premium service.
So what are the options for contingent agencies:
1: Stay as you are: keep grinding away with working hard to source jobs with many agencies and low fees. This is the land of the ‘gunslinger recruiter’ and there are only two types of ‘gunslinger recruiter’: THE QUICK AND THE DEAD.
2: Build a low-cost delivery model where you can make money from 10% to 13% fees. Focus on building sourcing teams and a couple of rainmakers that win multi-vacancy deals to guarantee job flow. But beware of the offshore sourcing teams; they will take the fees to 5% before too long.
3: Say “NO” to bad sex: Make the decision to not work with clients where effort levels are high and fees are low. Find a specialism and service proposition where people value not only the candidates you source but the service you provide. Remember the catch is “service” if you try to be a ‘gunslinger’ and play fast and lose you will come unstuck quickly.
Your business is unique to you so only you will know the route you want to go down. The reality of the market however, is that every day it become harder to be all things to all parts of the market.
How do you do this?
Start your business plan for 2017 by answering these three questions:
1: Do I get enough sex for the level of legwork I have to do?
2: Am I happy with the quality of the sex I get it?
3: Where is there more rewarding sex to be had!……….
For those looking to improve their business development culture next year feel free to enter your email address below