QUESTION: My question is regarding new client development. I have heard through several trainers to have a list of 1500 plus or minus clients prospects and they should be called or emailed quarterly. I typically will leave a message and then try calling the same prospect again in about a week. What are your thoughts in general and specifically on the frequency or timing of second call? Also do you have recommendations for compelling voice messages? Thank you. – Mark

ANSWER: Great question, Mark, thank you. There are a few questions in there and I want to unravel each of them. I am going to skim over some of parts of your questions because other people had questions with some specifics along some of the areas, so this way in the course of this whole conversation you will get a robust answer to your question.  

First of all, there is no right or wrong on quantity. Personally, I never had 1,500 client prospects and I do not think my whole firm with $3 million a year in revenue and all our desk specialties combined had 1,500 prospects. That is probably an exaggeration. We probably did, but we are talking 6 or 7 different desk specialties.  

If you are brand new to recruiting or to the niche, you will probably want 500 to 800 prospects. This is the number I have used that has worked and here is why. With let us say 800 companies, you are going to validate 100 or 200 of them have gone out of business or merged. Remember, I am assuming you are starting from scratch. If you already have an established database that is not going to be that many. 

For example, I will just use my desk specialty, same exact process. I placed sales people so I wanted the VP of Sales, the Chief Operating Officer, the Chief Financial Officer, and the President/CEO. Those were four very specific people I wanted to get to know in those companies, even though 90% of the people we placed were the actual salespeople.  

Why the CFO? The role of CFO, as you guys know, is not just a control freak; it is a strategist. With working usually my initial contact was VP of Sales or CEO, for those of you who know me real well, my process is pretty strategic on developing clients and that is why I wanted the CFO. So if I ultimately had, say . . . 500 people, I would have 1600 prospect names, 400 companies.  

The most important contact I needed to get started was VP of Sales. Depending on where you are at Mark, you want that initial contact for that initial hiring manager, that is where the value is. I would cycle through all of the contacts you have, and it was not the same for every company. If I talked to Joe Blow, VP of Sales and he has one sales representative and they were founded in 1950, and in 1970 they added their first sales representative, well, that is not a guy I want to call every month or every quarter. It is probably a guy I do not want to call frequently. I would follow up with people with small sales forces two or three times at most per year.  

If I talk to a VP of Sales with a team with three area sales managers that each have four or five representatives, just through attrition there would be two or three openings a year. I will make sure I have a reason to get in touch with him every month. 

When initially going through your database, part of your qualification process should include these questions:

How big is your team? 

Looking at your business plan over the next 12 months, where do you see expansion? Even if they say no expansion, figure in anywhere from 10% to 20% attrition, lower with technical positions, higher with sales type people.  

You base the quantity of the followup based upon the size of their teams, so everyone is not treated the same.  

I think if you have initially 400 or 500 companies, up to 800 if you are going from a cold dead start, I would want one hiring manager contact in each company and then grow from there.  Then I am going to get in touch with those people based on the quantity and times based on the size of their team.  

I stopped cold calling on phone clients in the early 2000s. There are two strategies that I teach in depth, so I am going to give you the watered down version simply because we only have an hour on the call. Each one takes about a half hour or 45 minutes to really teach in depth.  

One is finding and identifying a great marketable candidate, or even in the absence of a great one, a good one, that is relevant to the hiring manager you are looking for, and then putting together a list and emailing him.  

Hi Mr. or Ms. Hiring Manager, 

In a recent engaged search I uncovered an individual who identified $787,000 in cost savings in his first year of employment, redesigned ___, ____, and _____.  This is the type of individual if he comes into your organization can probably uncover hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost efficiency for yourself too.  

Look at your calendar. What is a good time for us to discus this person in more detail?  

You can send out dozens of those emails. Each one is individualized, but you do not send them out as a block to your prospect, your client. I do not send these out as a menu with six candidates on them, I send it out with one candidate. My whole goal is to engage them in a phone conversation, not in an email dialog.  

They might email you back and say, “Oh yea, send me a blinded copy of this guy’s CV.”  I would just email back, “Sounds like you are interested. What is a good time for a quick chat so I can tell you anything you want to know about this guy?” I ignore the request to forward the CV. Again, I do not want to give him what he wants in an email, I want to get him or her on the phone.  

If I emailed on Monday, and did not hear back from him on Wednesday I would forward the email that I sent on Monday and I would say, “Hey Mark, I have not heard from you on below.  Did you get it? Mike” and then if I did not hear back on Wednesday I might call on Friday and leave a voicemail saying, “Hey Mark, Mike Gionta. In a recent engagement search. . .”  I am just going to say what I put in writing on the phone.  

My formula is seven attempts of a mixture of once a week email and phone messages over a month. You might think, “Oh my gosh, that is a bit obnoxious.” Generally when someone got back to me it was either in the form of they were apologetic in that they had not gotten back to me sooner and/or grateful for my persistence, and in a very small fraction they were a bit annoyed, but the way you turn that around is you say, “Hey, if you bring me on, this is the same type of persistence I use to go after the talent I recruit for you because in this market you are competing aggressively for great talent in the marketplace and would it not be good for you know you have a recruiter that has already demonstrating that. That is what potentially you are going to get from me as your search partner”.  

I would say switch it to the email. We just see, we have measured metrics on this. Phone calls are getting called less. Cold voicemails on marketing presentations are getting returned fewer and fewer times. Thank you for that question.