This question is from a newer recruiter. I am going to start doing cold calls this week, first time ever, and I am not sure what to say or how to say it. Would you mind sharing some tips, tricks, or even an opening pitch that has yielded success with your cold calling?

I hate the word pitch. This is a great basic question. Business development is a weak area for most recruiters and is typically inconsistent, so this is a great question to do a refresher on.

Here is what I have found. First of all, nothing works all the time, and nothing does not work all the time. Even the worst presentation works once in a while.

The Ineffective Pitch: What Not to Do

We have found that a service level offering, hi, we are XYZ Recruiting Firm, been around since 1957, we are rated #1 in the New Orleans marketplace, blah, blah, blah, we are wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, work with us and how can we help you? This is an ineffective way. That would be a pitch, talking about how wonderful you are. Hiring managers and HR hear it all the time.

They want to believe you. They have just heard it way too often. It is white noise because they hear it, again, so often.

Two techniques that we teach that get outstanding results.

Technique 1: Flip Marketing for Relationship Building

The first technique is one I learned from a guy named Charles Wadlow in the late 1990s. I call it flip marketing. The premise is to call on hiring managers with a purpose. Now, you could have an opening for somebody in a position to hire. You could also anticipate having an opening.

Implementing Flip Marketing

For example, one of the ways I would use flip marketing is if I could find a lousy opening on the internet, call even HR and get crappy terms for a Vice President level position or higher, I would take it so I had something specific to talk to a candidate about. Now, every once in a while, we would find some candidates and make a placement.

Building a Relationship with Hiring Managers

My goal, though, for those calls was not candidate development. It was to have a reason to talk to a hiring manager about the most wonderful human being on earth, them, to build a relationship with them, and then find and uncover what business challenges they had and what I had to do to earn the right to help them build their team.

What did that call look like? From a baseline standpoint, I assume you do not have an opening for a vice president. Let’s say your target market is VP of Sales in the widget space. I would call a VP of Sales, and I would say very quickly, and this would be my voicemail too, “Hey Jim, I have no idea if you are open to hearing about something potentially stronger than your current situation. Curious as to your thoughts on that. Call me back. Mike Gionta, phone number.”

Real vague. Voicemail, Inmail, text, you can use a variety of ways. I suggest you use a variety, as different people respond to different modes of communication. You do not say anything other than that. Then you get Jim on the phone, and Jim is like, yeah, what have you got?

Right now, Jim, I do not have anything specific. I am anticipating coming across openings for VP of Sales. Again, I have no idea what is going on in your current situation, but I wanted to see what you would want to be kept abreast of and what your current situation is.

I would go, “Are you open to hearing about something that could potentially be stronger than your current situation?”

They go, well, you know, I am always open.

The Key to The Flip Marketing Call

Here is the key with a flip marketing call. You want to ensure that you stay on the side of happiness and career satisfaction. We are trained as recruiters to look for the challenges and opportunities they want in their next opportunity. What is wrong with your current role, or what do you dislike about your current role? What are you less excited about, and what does your next role look like if you get excited?

I always pick up a cue because most people will say, you know, I am always open; I cannot complain, but I am always open.

You cannot complain? What is going really well with your current assignment?

Staying Positive to Preload the Flip

That is the key in this call. What is going well? What do you love most about your current job? Because if we are going to talk about changing your company, let us find and identify what you love about what you are doing now. I stay in that mode of what do they love about what they are doing now. Why did they join the company? Why do they stay at the company?

Most people that you talk to, most VP-level people that you talk to, they are going to be more excited about their current role.

At a certain point, you can be like, Jim, I am happy to keep you aware of other opportunities in the widget space at the VP level, but it sounds like things are going great there.

Absolutely. When I run across a VP, an opportunity, I am going to run it by you. But you know what, in addition to placing Vice Presidents, a lot of times when I place a VP, I build the team underneath him or her. In addition to placing VPs, we build sales teams.

I do this very slow because they are in the mode of themselves and I have said, you are not going anywhere. They agree.

We do that a lot. Jim, what would I have to do as a recruiter, as a search professional, to earn the right to help you build your sales team?

Engaging with Purpose: Beyond the Job Opening

See, I am not asking if they have any openings, which is a commodity-based question that puts me in line with all the other recruiters out there. Here is my experience. They do not know how to answer that question, so you have to help them answer that question.

Because a lot of times they will say, just stay in touch. You mean annoying you with voicemails, emails, texts, those types of things? That is going to allow me to earn the right to help you build your team?

I would say, is there any talent you want to be kept aware of? I am not sure if you are actively hiring right now, but as it relates to building a sales professional for your personal avatar, Jim, what are 3 or 4 bullet points on excellence?

Creating Value: Offering Insights and Solutions

Then, if there is an opening, now they will tell you about it. I promise you, when you ask, what do I have to do to earn the right to help you build your team? Nine out of 10 will not have a good answer for that, so you have to be ready to accept that they will not have a good answer.

What kind of talent would you like to be exposed to?

What kind of data, industry movement?

“For example, I can talk to you about your competitors’ compensation plans. I talk to salespeople all the time. I know, in general, how the plans are structured. As long as it does not come from a client, Jim, I am happy to share that with you.” As long as it does not come from a client, letting him or her know I am confidential. I do not have to say I am confidential.

Finding Opportunities for Future Engagement

Then, with most people, I do not care how hot the economy is, most people you talk to are not going to have an opening the moment you talk to them. Statistics. But you will have set yourself up for the next call, because whatever they told you in that call is what you need to do. That is why I want to have something concrete, something I can follow up with for the next call.

You have begun the relationship for all those not hiring right now. I do not want to wait 90 days to talk with this person. I want to follow up with something within 30 or 45 days while they still remember me. Again, we will spend some time talking to them about their background and what they love. Getting them to speak with you about those things and brag about their background builds a relationship with you. That is technique 1.

Technique 2: Presenting a Star Candidate

It has been taught for decades and decades, even before I started in the business. Recruiters roll their eyes on this one, except it works. We have tested it. It works.

It is presenting a star candidate, a most placeable candidate (MPC).

When I started in the business, you did this all on the phone. Now, you can automate these with email, and I will show you how to use this technique, email leading to a phone conversation.

The Power of Showcasing Talent

Here is the difference. I have been part of groups where we brought in panels of senior executives in different hiring capacities. At the same event, the next day, we brought in senior executives and human resources. Our question to both panels: the room had like 100 recruiters in it; what do we need to bring value to you so that you want to work with us and we could basically earn the right and differentiate ourselves enough for you to want to work with us?

They said, show us talent. Every member of both panels, without hesitation, without a doubt, shows us talent. We might not always call you back, but I put those in an email folder, when I need someone, I will call you back.

Crafting an Irresistible Candidate Presentation

You do not want to have 27 candidates in one email. One email, one candidate, 3 or 4 bullet points. You want to avoid repetitive language and fluff like “strong leader, great communicator.” If it is a salesperson, opening line, individual – and I do not want to use 150% of quota or 125%, they are 150% of quota and they say, I know I was at least 150% of quota, I put 149%. That number has more meaning. I like using very specific numbers.

I want to put, here is what this human being accomplished and what they are capable of doing for you in 3 or 4 bullet points with a closing line of, look at your calendar, Mr. or Ms. Employer, when is a good time for us to chat further about this to see if they are a fit for your organization?

Now most times, they are not going to give you a time. Sometimes they will. But they are going to say, where is this person based? How much do they make? That’s when you respond with, “All great questions. Here is a link to my calendar. When are you available to talk?” Every one of their questions, I pivot to a phone conversation. I can answer this and a bunch of other questions when I get you on the phone.

If they are asking, what do we know? They probably have an opening for that type of person. But regardless, it is a great opportunity. I am just coaching you here; do not get into an email dialogue with that person.

Setting the Stage for Success

Mastering the art of cold calling is just the beginning of what it takes to truly excel in the recruiting industry. Whether you’re perfecting your presentation, implementing flip marketing, or presenting a star candidate, each technique contributes to your overall success. But why stop there?

If you’re committed to taking your recruiting business to the next level, we invite you to join us at the “Grow Your Recruiting Business” 3 Day Virtual Challenge. You’ll delve deeper into the strategies that can help you become a 500K+ biller and build a Multi-Million dollar recruiting business.


The Business Development techniques that are working in a soft economy to get new clients (who are willing to give you engaged searches and even money upfront!)

o Strategies that are working now to get HIGHER fees with New AND Existing Clients

Consistently get clients and candidates on the phone and calling you back!

The art of getting exclusive clients who lead to significantly more revenue.

Finally discover how to get out of overwhelm and get excited about your business again…

Here’s how…