To say there is a love hate relationship with cold calling would be an understatement.

In any sales career cold calling is the lifeline of your success. You’re job as a salesperson is to get the person on the other end of the phone to say yes so you can complete the sale. In agency recruiting it is no different. You must speak to the hiring manager who will ultimately make the decision on whether or not you are getting a commission check. So if the cold call is so important, how are you treating it? Smile and dial? Quantity over quality? If you’re not digging deep on these calls, you’re hurting yourself.

For the majority of my career I sat on the sales end of the recruiting cold call. Picking up the phone and trying to convince a hiring manager on why they should be using my recruiting services. I have been trained by some of the best companies in the industry so I know that I should be getting 4 no’s before giving up, always asking open ended questions and so on and so on. More recently my career transitioned to the other end of the phone. I am now a corporate recruiter getting those calls. So I can tell you what both sides of the call looks like, and what works and what doesn’t.

Being on the corporate side now, it confuses me how some of these agency recruiters operate. A large number of calls I am getting go just like this:

Sales Recruiter: Hi Chadd, this is [NAME] from [AGENCY] do you have any openings right now we can assist on?

Me: No, we are set for right now.

Sales Recruiter: OK, thank you. Please keep us in mind when you do.

So that’s your pitch? Keep us in mind when you do? There are countless others who also would like to be kept in my mind for when I have an opening. As much as I would love to keep all of you in my mind, I also have hiring managers, candidates and requirements that are being kept in my mind. No offense, but your name has already been forgotten before the phone hits the receiver to end this call.

Recruiting is not like ordering food from a restaurant when you are hungry. You don’t just pick a requirement from my open positions list and order it. You need to understand the person you are targeting and give them a reason to work with you. I can’t speak for the entire HR world but I imagine this statement holds some truth for the majority of them: companies don’t want to spend money on outside recruiting. I don’t make this statement because I am now on the corporate side. I knew this truth even when I was an agency recruiter selling my services.

However, just because a company does not want to spend the money doesn’t mean they won’t. Situations arise where an outside recruiter is necessary. If you are looking for someone who is very niche, have too much hiring volume or for a number of other reasons you will need to use an outside agency. And the agency that has been asked to be “kept in mind” probably will not be the one who gets the call.

The one who does get called though? That would be the agency that has built a relationship with the company and understands their hiring needs. Below are a few topics/ points of discussions you need to be talking about on every call you make. If you are just asking to be “kept in mind” you are going to be kept behind.

  1. Why would they use an agency? After all you need to know what motivates a customer.
  2. What do they look for in an agency?
  3. When was the last time they used an agency and why? History will repeat itself.
  4. What kind of candidates/ backgrounds do they typically hire for?
  5. Is their business cyclical? Does hiring peak at some point during the year?
  6. What is their current time to fill? Would it be important for them if this was quicker?
  7. How do they currently identify candidates?
  8. Are your deliverables somehow impacted negatively by this position being vacated?
  9. What are the current positions that are more difficult to fill?
  10. Would they benefit from having access to your network?

These are just some basic questions you can ask. You do not want to send this list to your prospective customer and ask for answers. But the point is to dive deep so you can position yourself as a resource. For example, if you know your prospective client spends a large amount on advertising for their position and you can somehow be more cost effective, that is an easier way to position yourself as a resource. Or if you know that by continuing to have a vacancy they are not delivering on their products, you can easily help them look better to their customers.

There are hundreds of reasons to justify using an outside recruiter. And on the flip side there are hundreds of reasons to not use a recruiter. So if you think that by just calling every 2 months to see what’s going on is going to get you a requirement, you are disappointing yourself. Call your prospect with an idea of understanding what drives them to use an agency. Once you find that out, you can position yourself as the solution to their problems.


Image: Shutterstock

About Chadd Balbi

Chadd Balbi is a seasoned recruiting professional with extensive experience in full life cycle recruiting and business development in both Corporate and Staffing environments. His emphasis is on strong recruiting, business development and client relationship focus. Specializing in the IT staffing industry. Follow Chadd on Twitter @CFBRecruiter.

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