QUESTION: I am curious to know how you make this transition in the following scenario.  You have just made a marketing call using an MPC. The client appears interested and says the typical, “Send me over his resume.”  Obviously, we do not send over a candidate without mutual agreement of our fee, preferred signed agreement. So what have you found to be a smooth way of communicating this transition from “send me the candidates resume” to “I will but need to clear our fee”?Mark from Connecticut

ANSWER: There is two different ways.  I assume you are doing this on the telephone and do not have a fee agreement in place.  I have done a few different things.  One, I have said, “Do we have an agreement in place?  I don’t think so…. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Before we waste our time going back and forth over that, why don’t you tell me a little bit more about what you are looking for and I can tell you if this candidate has got it and if he/she does not, then there is no reason really to go on to the fee part.”

We do not know if they have an opening yet, so I am taking the pressure off of the client into getting into fee negotiation because I do not want to get into a negotiation on fee, especially if there is a layered opening behind their interest in the MPC.

Number one, I want them talking about what they would want to see in the candidate for the reason of yes, because I want to get my candidate set up on an interview.   Number two, what is the opening behind it?  First, I might have other candidates, second am I going to be able to get a job, third I might be able to make this a search and fourth it might even be an engagement fee.  If I get into a fee conversation right now, the fourth scenario is never going to happen or it is going to be really difficult to kind of track backwards.

A lot of times when I have said benefit to them, “I do not think we have a fee agreement in place. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves before I waste any more of your time, give me a couple of bullet points of what you want to see in this candidate. I can tell you if they have got them, where they have done them or how deep they’ve got them.”  “Well, we really know if they have done the blah, blah, blah and the blah, blah, blah and the blah blah blah”.   “As a matter of fact they have done the blah, blah, blah and here is where they did it.  In that role, they cut costs 18% representing a savings of $372,500 in revenue and then, they have done this, this and this here”.

Then you engage in a back and forth dialogue.  “So, let me ask you Mr. /Ms. Hiring Manager, is this candidate you are looking for or is this just someone that based on kind of my initial presentation just screamed I have got to talk to them?”  They will let you know.  If they say “Well, I need somebody.” “Well, let’s go a little bit deeper because in addition to the candidate I have, which it sounds like there is probably a match there.  I have other candidates like them as I’m specializing in this niche” and that is how I would transition kind of into the search.

In a lot of these scenarios where they are really interested in seeing the resume, it is because they have an opening.  “Send me over the resume I have no opening” is probably a tire kicker.  If the potential client says “Look, I need this, this, and this.  I would want to see this and this for me to really want to talk to them”. Let’s say you dig a little deeper and there is no opening and say, “So, let me ask you, before we even get into the fee thing, is this the type of candidate if we sent over the resume and they interviewed outstanding, you would be in a position to make an offer inside 30-45 days?”  If they respond “No, we have a couple of candidates.  We might open up something six months from now.” Well, I don’t want to get this person in their database even if I had a fee agreement in place.  I would say, “You know what? This candidate is not going to be available in six months. As a matter of fact, I am arranging interviews for them as we speak.  The reason I ask is because he is going to be off the market in 45 days and I do not want to waste your time interviewing somebody that would only tease you that you would not be able to have access to.” And that’s kind of how you get through that.

So, either way, I have not talked fee until it is appropriate. That is how I side-step it, by asking a question without breathing and then going into maybe a second question that requires an answer from them. Again, some people will say, “Stop. Stop. Stop. Before we go any further, what is your fee?” Then, you can qualify.

You are never going to win quoting a fee at the beginning. Maybe “never” is too strong a word. All you do when you have a dialogue around fee is scream at the hiring manager, “I am just like every other recruiter,” because every other recruiter is answering it. A few of the better billers will put up some resistance and then capitulate. The biggest billers do not. The most consultative recruiters have call-in assignments. They are the recruiters who saw the biggest change when they stopped answering the questions and started re-directing and gaining a little bit more control over their desk.