Recruitment Consultant Series Part 7: Structuring Sales

Part 7 of the “So you’ve become a recruitment consultant… what does that really mean?” series. Last week we looked at communication within sales. This week I want to write about why it’s so important to plan your sales and have a structure to what you do.

One of the key competencies that a recruitment consultant should have is planning. Having worked with a few thousand consultants in my career, I can confidently say that the difference between a good consultant and a great one is planning. Top consultants plan their day, week, month, quarters and year. They plan their sales strategies, their candidate care plans, their targets, goals and objectives, their client meetings, their sales calls and above all else ‘themselves’… I could go on!

The following structure can be utilised for both client meetings and individual sales calls. It’s for a conversation where you wish to present solutions to your customers’ needs – in other words ‘sell’ to them. The reason that it resonated with me and I still use it today is that it doesn’t feel salesy. I can’t stand pushy sales people who don’t listen to what you say and just assume they have what you need.  With this sales structure, you won’t be accused of doing that.

The 7 Point Sales Plan

  1. Plan

Now I’ve met a lot of consultants in my time that say “Oh, it’s OK – I just pick up the phone. I know what to say… it’s all in my head” o“I’ll know what to say when I get there”

Now this is all well and good if the client says all the things that you expect them to say. Unfortunately, you’re not in control of the client and therefore, if you’re winging it, the likelihood is that the client will throw you… and then what are you going to do?!

So plan what you want to achieve, do your research to find out as much as possible before making the approach and think about possible solutions to their possible needs.

2.         Introduction

For myself I always felt that using your full name was much more professional if you didn’t know this person well. Clearly state your company and your title / specialism so as not to hide it. Be proud of who you are and what you do, then finally, your location – if it’s relevant i.e. local or prominent.

The introduction is more about how you sound than what you are saying. The client is tuning in to you, but is already making assumptions about how they feel about you. You should sound confident, strong, in control and enthusiastic. All too often we don’t concentrate on this and it comes across as sing-songy (I know that’s not a word!), repetitive, hesitant or just too quiet.

3.         Bridge

A Bridge is something that gets you from your introduction in to the part of the call / meeting where you get to ask the client questions and they are willing to reply. Get this right and the client is happy to talk to you. Get it wrong and they’ll cut you off very quickly!

The Bridge is defined as an interesting statement followed by an open question. Asking an open question early in the conversation allows your client to get involved in the conversation and doesn’t allow them to cut you off with a “yes” or more likely “no” answer, but they will only want to do this if the statement you made was of interest to them. Therefore, talking about recruitment early on will usually do the opposite. Remember – it’s not about you, it’s about them.

4.         Probe

The recruitment process and current requirements are just two of the topics that you can have business discussions with your client about, but they still find them quite boring, so let’s make sure that this conversation is more of interest to them, which helps to build rapport and means that you are gathering a lot more knowledge to be able to sell the company to your candidates.

Write a list of topics and write 10 open questions next to each. This will help with the planning of your calls as you can cut and paste relevant questions from your list. I’ve been collating them myself for years and am now up to 6 sides of A4 with hundreds of questions. So many that I’ll never get to the end of them with one client, as every 6 months things will change and I’ll have to start again with some of them.

5.         Summarise

Now notice that we’re still not selling. Our aim here is to check our own understanding, show the client that we have understood their needs and wants to gain their confidence, give ourselves a moment to think, prioritise their needs if there are many and above all else, show that we listened to them.

6.         Present (sell)

We are now ready to sell to the client, but I consider it more of a presentation as we are now presenting solutions to their needs / issues that we uncovered throughout our questioning at point 4. What’s key here is that we point out the benefits of what we’re offering to the client. Too many consultants focus on their ‘features’ and sell as many of them as possible – like a shopping list. The client is interested in what it will do for them… not what it is.

7.         Close

We have now got to the close. We want to make sure that the position is clear for both sides. Never make assumptions at this point and make sure that you ask for what you want, confirm the actions for both sides and then put it in writing.

By utilising this simple structure, you will achieve so much more from your client meetings and calls than just ‘winging it!

Early on in my life as a recruitment consultant and manager I was involved in some in-depth interviews to understand the key competencies required to perform at a high level. Next week I’m going to list those competencies and highlight the key attributes of each, so that you can assess how you’re doing so far, in this new career of yours.



Angela Cripps
Angela Cripps
ANGELA has 25 years of experience in the recruitment industry and calls herself an industry advocate - anything that raises standards and Angela is likely to have a link to it somewhere. A professional trainer for the past 15 years, her LinkedIn profile shows she currently works for industry bodies. As a select member of our BizProphets "thought leadership" Panel, her expert insights afford industry participants the tools necessary to master the art of recruitment.

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