QUESTION: One of the major things that is holding me back is finding clients. – Roger 

ANSWER: When I hear someone has trouble finding and attracting clients I am guessing they are talking to almost nobody. We have measured this in a bunch of different desk specialties, and it is anywhere between 9 and 15 marketing presentations or marketing client prospect conversations lead to a job order. If you are having trouble finding clients, changing zero technique, increase the volume. I have not had anyone go on a diet of having significantly more marketing calls and not get significantly more openings.  

One technique to increase the volume of presentations is to send really good emails to hiring managers. Do not say, “I found a somebody who is an outstanding candidate.” As soon as I see that I am going to hit delete. It is inferred they are outstanding.  

Say why they are outstanding in that email. Remove all those white noise, cliché type of things such as good leadership or good management skills. Instead outline what he or she did specifically which says by default they are outstanding. If they are sales, what percentage over quota they were. If they are in engineering, did they bring in a product on time, under budget? Did they develop something new? Did they develop a product line that yielded ___ amount of revenue. If they are in finance, did they make or save money by changing a financial process? Whatever it is in their space that is attractive to them is really what you want to seek out and highlight in those emails.  

A second strategy, is what I call flip marketing. It is basically working on a senior level search, and it might be something you do not normally search on because the fee is terrible, the terms are terrible, you have to go through HR, but something in the niche that you are in where the person would be in the role of hiring if you were marketing to them, and if you do not have one of those, find one like on a deed or something like that. You do not lie. If you found it on the internet or found it on a company’s website, but do not actually have it. You do not say I have been engaged. You say I have become aware of.  I have become aware of an opportunity.  

This is the voicemail script or the email:

Dear Mr. or Ms. VP, 

I have become aware of an opportunity. I have no idea what is going on in your career right now. I just thought I would talk to you quietly and confidentially to see if you are at all open to hearing about an opportunity that is potentially stronger that your current assignment. What are your thoughts on that?   

When you talk to them, they are probably going to say – “Well, tell me more about the opening”. This is a natural response.  

In response say, “What is going on in your career right now that even makes you open to having this conversation with me?” If the job is posted you can give them an outline, but I generally do not recommend that.

They will usually say – Well, things are going pretty well here.  

Now, if I am really not trying to recruit on it, I might say “What are the things that are less than perfect?” If I am really trying to flip it into a marketing call, I would continue with “You said you were relatively happy with that. Tell me why you are happy there.” The goal is to get them bragging about, talking about the fun side of their business, and their role.  

The more you get them talking about what they like, leading them down that direction, you can ask “Why are we talking? It sounds like you are pretty well situated there”.  

At the point you can agree with them and acknowledge that the timing of the call is not good. However, if they still want you to know about the opportunity, of course, give them the courtesy of that, but the energy has already shifted into happiness, contentment, and staying there.  

Then I would flip the call by saying, “Unlike a lot of recruiting firms that place VPs like yourself, I also help build the team underneath them. Bluntly, we do not find that $20,000 to $25,000 fees associated with placing financial analysts at all insulting.  What do I have to do to earn the right to help you build your team?” 

Now, you might think that you should ask if they have any openings they want to help with –  No. That is a horrible question. that will put you right back into the commodity zone. However, if they have an opening and ask if you place like this type of position? 

The correct answer is always, “Absolutely. We do that all the time.” From there ask them about their biggest challenge as it relates to that position. This shows that you are different than a typical recruiter.  

When you leave voicemails, trying to recruit senior level people, you are going to get 60% to 70% response rates and you are going to enter a dialog. You are going to let them talk about the most wonderful human being in the world, themselves. I take a little bit of a data sheet on them. I talk a little bit about their career, their biggest challenges, to give them the opportunity to brag. The more they brag about themselves, the more they bond with me, and I have notes then to follow up with them on.  

If they have an opening in that scenario, they will begin to talk me about it and I picked up a ton of great openings, and you actually start off on a significantly higher plane relationship. You do not go through as much of the – we do not pay that kind of fee, you have to go to HR. If I am talking to a VP and they are inferring I place VPs, I go – You are going to send me to HR – I almost get a little indignant. So hopefully that gives you a couple of ideas to do some new business development.