27 / Jan / 2017

This month we’re sharing a guest post from Greet Brosens, who has recently joined the Elite Squared team.  

Greet has over 20 years’ recruitment experience across Europe and the UK and specialises in growing and selling European recruitment businesses, organisational design and strategy.

When I started my career in recruitment more than 20 years ago, we had a one-week induction during which we familiarised ourselves with “the recipe”. The recipe was our toolkit for sales and recruitment activities, and consisted of sales activities such as cold calls, anniversary calls, ad calls, reference calls, seasonal needs calls (you know the drill!)

At the back of our recipe (a laminated sheet explaining all these activities) we found our weekly KPIs we had to adhere to: 100 sales calls per week, 10 client visits, 10 candidate interviews etc.

It surprises me how little has changed since then. Most recruitment businesses, particularly those who pride themselves on a healthy sales culture, still abide by these KPIs. Some might add email marketing in the mix, but only as a precursor to yet more sales calls.

When I question these KPIs, I typically get the standard answer from recruitment old timers and current business leaders that nothing beats good old phone calls, usually followed by a lament about how the young generation spends all their time staring at their screen and have lost the art of conversations. I myself subscribed to this school of thought until a few years ago. This is until I started my own business in 2012 and had a chance to go back to grassroots sales activities.

Later when I rejoined a large corporate organisation, I was fortunate to run the sales and marketing department, thereby gaining a unique insight in the evolution of marketing in the last few years, with two developments standing out: the toolkit for marketing professionals has changed drastically and businesses have changed their buying behaviour. These two developments are obviously interlinked, with buyers in organisations researching their buying options thoroughly online before making a buying decision. At the same time, they are used to a personalised buying experience, where sales people use the analytics gained from the online footprint created by the buyer.

These changes have resulted in a transformed sales and marketing funnel. Where until recently the marketing department was responsible for developing (mainly unqualified) leads, most marketing departments now have sophisticated tools and knowledge to engage with potential customers and give them a personalised experience. Research has indeed shown that customers are now 60-70% through the decision making process before engaging with a sales person.

Most marketing departments in recruitment businesses are part of this evolution, investing in tools to improve online engagement with potential customers, building content libraries for the different buying personae etc. Very few recruitment businesses however have a marketing department with a strong voice at board level. Indeed, recruitment businesses are typically lead by sales people. The same sales people who 20 years ago got on fine with a phone and some index cards and who still believe that showing “Boiler Room” to their trainee recruitment consultants is somehow inspirational.

Without a complete synergy between sales and marketing the new tools and methodologies are doomed to fail. How can marketing truly own a deeper sales funnel if the sales team do not understand or don’t buy into this changed environment. How can marketing create compelling content and buying personae if the sales team doesn’t engage and share. And most importantly, how will the marketing department ever get the investment needed to own a greater part of the sales funnel without taking resources from the sales department, who – one could argue – would need less resources. More marketing in the sales funnel should inevitably mean less sales.

I believe that the only way to successfully change the way recruitment businesses grow their sales revenue efficiently is by building a new integrated model between sales and marketing, with perhaps fewer recruitment consultants and more marketing professionals, or recruitment consultants who are trained to act as marketers. Good recruitment sales people have a huge amount of expertise around their chosen industry or skillset, and understand their buying community very well. Yet they rarely are responsible for creating the content that email marketers push out to their communities, resulting in a plethora of bland content, that does little to set a business apart from its competitors. Similarly, good sales people know their customers’ preferences and personal situation well, they consider the whole person when interacting with their client base. Yet they are rarely really involved when buying personae are created. I can envisage a business where a larger group of people are more marketer than recruiter, with a smaller group of expert recruiters acting as the main interface to the clients at the bottom of the funnel.

Different choices can be made; different models will work for different business. What will not work anymore though is the old recipe and the old KPIs. New metrics have to replace the old ones, it’s time for an update.

This article was originally published by Greet Brosens on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/recruitment-consultant-sales-professional-marketer-greet-brosens

If you’re interested in finding out more about Greet and how she can help your business please contact steve@elitesquared.co.uk