Hi, Mike. My question for this month is, in regards to cold calling hiring managers to gain new search assignments, I find I struggle when I have an actual live person on the phone.  However, when I receive their voicemail, I’m not certain what to say and I feel I’m all over the place and inconsistent.  And I’m concerned that the messages I’m leaving leave the wrong impression.  What is your perspective on messages when prospecting for new businesses?  Should I ideally leave a message at all?  Could you provide me with some best practices examples?  Cori from Pittsburgh, PA

ANSWER: Leaving an MPC voicemail is something I like to do after a couple of email attempts, individually, to a hiring manager.   So, “Dear Cori…in a recent engaged search I uncovered an individual”–let’s say I’m marketing a salesperson—“that was 127.5% on quota last year with 82% new business development.  This person did this, this, this, and this.  This is the type of individual that if you are looking to expand your market, will require little or no effort as he thrives on business development.  Looking at your calendar, when is a good time to talk about this candidate in more detail?”–NOT “Are you interested?  Let me know if you are interested.”  I have then had some clients that have used a tool called Timetrade (www.timetrade.com), and you can say, “Access my schedule here to talk about this candidate in more detail.”  You can have 15 minute call blocks set up for these types of calls.  Or you can just say, if you do not want to do that, “Let me know what time is good to talk about this in more detail.”   

You are going to get a few types of response.  The rare response will be “Can you call me today at 10?”  The other response could be “Where is this person based?  What do they make?  Can you send me a resume?”  You do not want to answer all those because you are going to get into an email dialogue where you cannot build rapport.  You can email back saying “Great questions, happy to talk to you about this candidate in more detail.  Looking at your calendar, when is a good time to talk?”

My favorite technique was having a weak director, manager, VP, C-level search.  When I say “weak” maybe it is one of those 15%, 6 month, one-year money back guarantee, half the world’s working on it type of job order. However, it’s a valid reason to call someone.  So, I would call VP’s and say, “I have recently been engaged in a project, Mr. VP or Ms. VP, and I have no idea what your current career situation is.  Just thought I would talk to you quietly and confidentially about an opportunity that could be potentially stronger than your current assignment. What are your thoughts on that?”  

Now, engaged means I agreed to the 15% and the one year money back guarantee.  Maybe I just did it verbally.  Engaged means hired.  The perception is retained and I will let them live with that perception bluntly.  You get into a really eloquent conversation for five to seven minutes about them and their career desires first.  Most candidates are not interested in your assignment because they are happy. With those candidates I actually do not want to push them to where they are unhappy.  And then I talk to them about something that transitions the call and say, “Sounds like things are going pretty well there?”  And I will get them to talk about all the things that make them happy and satisfied with their current company.  Next I say “Sounds like the timing of my call isn’t good for you right now,”—that is a good transition and inflection point.  “Unlike a lot of the recruiters that place VPs of Sales,”–VPs of Engineering or whatever it is—“I also build the teams underneath them. As a matter of fact, our firm does not find the $20,000-25,000 fees associated with those levels insulting, like a lot of the other retained firms do. And my question to you, Mr./Ms. Hiring Manager is, ‘What do I have to do to earn the right to help you build your team?’”

Now you have two specific techniques you can use specifically to consistently market and get new clients!