Topics of conversations with clients or second date advice!
Many recruiters ask me :”what do I speak with my clients about next time I see/talk to them?”To use the dating analogy; if you were to go on a second date, would you know what to say? I imagine that you would want to get to know the person a bit more and at the same time convey your interest in that person. You do this by finding out what is important to them and how you perhaps fit into that picture e.g. if you have the same values/interests.In the case of a client it is not that different; your challenge is to be interested and interesting. Think about the people, you find interesting; they often have some common ground with you and they “get” you.If you call a client just to “touch base”; (whatever that means), how can you convey that you “get” them?Remember conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue. Some recruiters think, they need to have a “spiel” when they phone a client. You do not, but you do need to be in the present moment, so you can truly hear what your client is saying and respond in the appropriate way. That is why a set script does not work as clients will not always say something that will fit your next prepared sentence. Clients want to deal with real people and not with scripted robots.So what can you talk to your clients about? They need to be topics that interest them so you can be interesting in turn. Here are some ways you can have an on-going conversation:
- We spoke about getting to know them a bit (first date) by asking questions. Now you can continue that conversation on your next call. E.g. if you found out they have three positions in the budget, you can ask how those positions are coming along and when they might recruit for them. You can ask what the positions are. Once you know when they want to put the staff on, you can agree with the client to start the process 4-6 weeks prior to the desired start date. This way, you can be proactive and actually be of service to your client. You can give them peace of mind by knowing what they want and when they want them.
- Keep abreast with what is going on in the world and particularly your client's world; if they are in the insurance industry and you know there's a flood, cyclone etc, be proactive, call them and ask how they are going to cater for the high number of phone calls, they will inevitably receive. Ask if they need more call centre staff. Come up with a solution as to how you could provide these with minimum induction time for them. Perhaps you undertake the induction of new temp starters to assist your clients when they are most stretched.
- As a recruitment consultant you are a professional; this means you need to know what is going on in the business world. Use Google alerts to put in your client's and their competitors' names. Read about your clients and their competitors, so you can be interesting to them. If you can give them information about what is happening in their world, they will always take your call. Often I have phoned clients to ask about the upcoming merger and they have said they are always the last to know!
- Ask how their company, division, department are faring in the overall picture. What lies ahead for them? What worries them? What challenges do they face? Come up with solutions for them. When you graduate from staff provider to solution partner your clients will find your services invaluable.
- Pick a niche and become an expert within your company; mine was in awards and industrial matters. I had a particular interest in this area as I managed large pools of temp staff. The knock on effect of becoming an expert is clients will seek you out. Clients would call me to ask how to deal with potential conflicts within their own companies whether it was negotiating an on-site agreement or dealing with a dismissal. Whilst I would always ask them to speak to a lawyer as well, clients nevertheless appreciated having an unbiased and knwoledable sounding board.
All the above ideas work for phone conversations as well as face-to-face conversations. In fact people are much more likely to tell you more in person than over the phone, so make sure, you visit your clients regularly to build those relationships.The other HUGE benefit of mastering the art of on-going conversation is your job becomes so much more interesting for you!You will actually get to know your clients and form lasting relationships, you will learn lots and you will look forward to speaking with your clients rather than dreading the “touching base” calls. You have everything to gain and so do your clients, so work on adding the art of conversation to your toolkit!