I would appreciate any advice you wanted to send our way Dan!
I like your notion that a researched call is a good call... experience means I can list teams, current and ex-staff and much more when I speak with an in-house function and firmly believe that knowledge equates to power in this industry... the quandary I often face is when I’m advising newer consultants... I would like to advise them to allocate X amount of time per day to researching target clients and building up mind maps of associations within and outside of the company... the trouble I have in doing this, is the sheer number of in-house and HR staff that do not give you the time of day beyond them hearing you’re from an agency and throwing out the usual PSL objection (can we please have some new objections!?) and leaving the call before you’ve even had a chance to handle the objection... how can I justify 15 minutes of researching a company when there’s a huge chance of deaf ears... as disappointing as it is for me to say it, because I love informed folk, we have more success ‘winging it’ and using potential research time to make another 3 calls into clients and this is what the competition is doing...
Maybe I’m a little cynical because I’m London, UK based and this is the state of affairs in the UK... the UK is ridiculously saturated, and I can sympathise with those in-house because I know they’ll be getting 10s of sales calls every day and it just becomes a response mechanism, the same way that a great looking girl in the club will lump you with the rest of the guys that have bothered her and throw up the same ‘I’m not interested’ before you’ve even communicated value, simply because it’s habit! I’d 90% do the same, too! Admittedly this isn’t so much an issue in mainland Europe, and the quality of hires that businesses in Europe are hiring is reflected in that... but I’m sure that Europe will slowly follow as more and more agencies appear...
I’m a firm believer that in-house teams / HR work on a different wavelength altogether to us external recruiters... our list of priorities are way different... as an in-house recruiter, the margins my agencies are working to is a priority... minimising administrative duties and sets of terms and conditions that I’m agreeing to is a priority... spending time filling the easiest positions that will make me most money and keeps me within budget (in-house are still incentivised!) is a priority... I can give you all that information you want to hear in a call and more, but you expect me to sign up to 12% mark-up on contractors and / or 15% perm fees?
The conflict we experience in priorities is why I will keep pitching line and having them advocate my case to the fury of many HR departments... I have nothing against HR and would love to engage with them, but there’s only so patient I can be with deaf ears... obviously, this causes things to go a little haywire and the steel sword comes crashing down and managers aren’t allowed to bring on the best hires for the position, they have to settle for the ones that come through the approved route that could do the job, but are clear second best for the project...
But I do digress... I’d welcome suggestions... and I’d particularly welcome suggestions for dealing with those in-house / HR functions that are lumping my team with the rest of the crowd, not giving my team a chance to communicate value and then shutting us down for communicating our value to the line manager and having him advocate our cause...
I hate to simply re-state what you've already pointed out, but knowing my business is the most important to me! My biggest pet peeve is when an agency calls assuming they know what I will need. A quick example is a recent call I took from a salesperson telling me all about a great manufacturing engineer she is working with that really wants to be in my office in Michigan. The problem is, we do no manufacturing in Michigan and the closest plant is in Tennessee which is several hundred miles away! A quick look online would have shown this caller that we do engineering, but no production in my location!
OK, perhaps not as quick of an example as I anticipated, but my point has been made all the same.
Once a salesperson knows what we do here and is aware of my business it is all about the relationship. I absolutely loathe feeling like I'm call number 12 on their list of 20 mandatory daily contacts per day. I know this is a tall order for most agencies we work with right now because we have slowed down hiring so much. That said, the ones who still treat me like a valued customer (or potential customer) continue to have their calls returned, get a meeting with me, and will be in consideration when we can utilize vendors.
One more personal preference of mine is something I wish vendors would stop doing. Please stop leaving me a voicemail or leading your call with the promise of a great candidate who is very interested in working with my company! Trust me, I get plenty of calls, emails, and paper resumes from these candidates on my own, and since I don't have any open jobs in this location, pushing this candidate on me is a fruitless effort. In a manner of speaking, this relates back to knowing my business and building the relationship.
Thanks for the post Dan, keep them coming!