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How to Re-Engage with a Client

QUESTION: I have a client where I have access to the hiring managers, but also have to engage HR. However, there is tension with the HR person and so I have backed away from this firm, at least for now. Any advice on re-engaging with this company? – Yale  

ANSWER: I do not know what the tension is, so I am just formulating the answer in my head based upon past experience in my own firm and in working with coaching clients. There are two ways to approach this re-engagement. You can try either or both of the approaches.

Photo by Charles Forerunner on Unsplash

The first approach is to go back to the hiring manager to share ether friction that you experienced with HR and ask for some clarity and guidance on mending the relationship. You can explain that for specific reasons, you are not able to move forward.  

The second approach, which can be done after your conversation with the hiring manager, is to call HR to have a very honest conversation. You can ask what you may have done to offend them or cause friction. In this conversation reassure them that you are wide open to any feedback, critique, or concerns in an effort to improve your relationship with them and future clients. Share that you sensed that they have completely pulled away and you want to why so you can come to a resolution.  

When approaching the hiring manager and HR, DO NOT have this conversation in email. This conversation needs to be a phone conversation. This type of dialogue is not productive over email because neither party can read the tone of the conversation. Many times when you put yourself out there and solicit candid feedback the other person will say, “No, it is not you, it is me. I am flooded with fill in the blank.” 

So many times the issues we encounter in our relationships, professional or personal, are a result of a story we made up in our heads. I am not saying that all client issues are stories, what I am saying is sometimes we sense that someone is pulling back and begin to question what we did to cause that to happen. In many situations, it has absolutely nothing to do with you. The longer you put off addressing it directly with the other party, the bigger the story becomes.  

Again, I do not know what expectations you set with the hiring managers and with HR and how the relationship was going to revolve after you hung up the phone and got the search. If the expectation was that you would simply send over candidate resumes, that is not that effective because that is what they do with everybody and then they get back to you.

As one of my mentors taught me a long time ago, if you do not have a process for selling, you are subject to your buyer’s process for buying. This client’s process for buying might be to receive a resume and get back to you in a month. If I find that out at the beginning I can choose to then participate or disengage, but I think the source of recruiters’ frustrations are they do not set proper expectations and then they get upset when the client does not get back to them. 

This is a great opportunity for you to reflect on what expectations you set not only with this client but with all your clients. From there you can decide what changes may need to be implemented in your process of selling your recruitment services. 

Great question, Yale.  Thank you so much.


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