Clients with commitment issues…
Business Development is tough, there’s no second-guessing it!
We’ve unpacked every single BD tip under the sun over the past couple of years, but something we haven’t touched on is client commitment.
Commitment issues in any aspect of your life can be frustrating, but even more so in recruitment when long-term client partnerships are the bread and butter of running a successful recruitment desk and having a fulfilling career.
You may be a complete master at opening the door, but how do you always keep it ajar?
There are two sides to this:
- Your mindset and attitude to client commitment
- How to implement client commitment from day #1
Let’s start with your mindset….
As far as your client is concerned, you are booked and busy.
It can be a difficult mindset shift to make, but you should always give the impression that you are filling roles left right and centre.
Not only will this create demand as clients will naturally be impressed that you have so much business, but it will also stop you from taking on sub-par work (even if you have nothing in your pipeline).
You are a value-add, not a last resort or a nuisance
The attitude towards recruiters can be one that is negative, and over time, you can also start to believe that you don’t add value or that you are as annoying as people say on LinkedIn.
Again, with mindset, it’s all about affirming with yourself that you are there to add value.
If a client can’t see that, and they are non-committal, difficult to get hold of, and don’t respect your time, you must respect yourself enough to focus less on a client like that and invest in individuals who value your partnership, and thus are more likely to engage repeatedly and be committed.
Saying no more often
Although this can be difficult, shifting your mindset to saying no more often and setting boundaries will enable you to attract clients who will meet your expectation.
This doesn’t mean shutting the door on clients – it’s about asserting what you will and won’t accept.
If you know deep down that you’ll accept sub-par terms and a mediocre agreement, you’ll allow yourself to do so!
How can you foster better client commitment?
#1 Give yourself a limit on how much competitive work you are willing to accept
In an ideal world, we’d all be retained or working exclusive roles on 30%, but in reality, not everybody works in this type of environment, and it may not work for your market.
Competitive work doesn’t always equal bad work, either.
But, if you spend all of your time working competitive roles, how will you elevate yourself and create a sustainable desk? You simply won’t.
Instead, set a boundary and allow yourself to work a set amount of competitive roles at any time.
Then, when the quota is filled, don’t take on any more.
#2 Always ask for exclusivity
If you don’t do this already, this should be a standard part of you winning a role from a client.
Exclusivity equals better service, a better go to market strategy, and enables you to have a better relationship with the client.
If the client isn’t willing to give you exclusivity, find out why.
Then, if you can, handle the objection and explain why going exclusively with you is better.
#3 Pitch retainers or mini-retainers
Retainers are the best way to secure commitment, as there is an up-front payment required.
Retainers in recruitment are evolving all the time, so whether you do a refundable retainer, a non-refundable retainer, a retainer “lite” or something different – getting upfront commitment in the form of payment is the goal.
#4 Always explain how it adds value
The whole point of working exclusively or on a retainer is so it’s a partnership.
You want the client to value the service you provide, so make sure you explain that service before you ask for anything from them.
This is largely down to your consulting and sales skills, as well as how you approach a negotiation!
For example, if a client isn’t willing to give you an exclusive role now, agree with them that if you fill the competitive role first, they will work with you exclusively on the next three roles.
Clever compromise is what I like to call it.
The client still has an element of control but you are working towards getting that commitment.
And, as time progresses, and your experience and market reputation improves and word spreads – there will come a time where you can exclusively work on a retained basis, and potentially even secure that the first time around.
It’s all about demonstrating your track record and value and what they will get out of it.
#5 – Build your ideal client matrix
What would make a perfect client? And, what opportunities are you VERY confident you can fill?
We’ve covered service level agreements and “fillability” frameworks in previous editions, and you should utilise these to build your ideal client matrix and use this to improve commitment. You can use this to consult and educate clients on how they can improve their processes, salary bandings, employee benefits – and so much more.