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Cognition

Recruit the Recruiters

Business development in a client service organization is a complex responsibility. Each approach is different from the next, but good salespeople share core competencies. I’ve talked to dozens of agency owners at Owner Camp, where the importance and role of business development is a popular conversation topic. Salespeople can be found in all walks of life. But, more than a few great ones I know were formerly recruiters, and here’s why.

1. Higher standards, amidst lowering tides

Think about recruiting as an industry: It’s not easy to find a digital recruiter that people wholeheartedly endorse, but this has much more to do with their companies than the recruiters themselves. Recruitment companies are metrics-driven, driving their competitive employees to behave like they’re angling for the Glengarry leads. Recruiters’ poor reputations are frankly not their fault.

If you know recruiters with good reputations, those reputations are hard-fought and well-earned—especially because those recruiters had to work their way out of a deficit to begin. Those folks have proven they can develop relationships against all odds. Trust is critical in developing new relationships with prospective clients. If you can harness that kind of relationship management, you’re on to something.

2. Aiming at the side of a barn

Recruiters have a miniscule window of opportunity to capture the attention of their audience and make a sale. They are typically driven to make hundreds of connects per week (phone calls, emails, in-person meetings). As a result, they move at ludicrous speed from one conversation to another, closing sales in minutes.

Having experience aiming at smaller targets under chaotic circumstances can make hitting larger targets infinitely easier. In client services, we sell larger engagements with more moving pieces, but the pace can feel luxurious compared to the dead sprint of recruiting. Moving from recruiting to selling creative services on a project or account basis equips an already solid salesperson with better ammunition and more time to take aim at the target, often resulting in a great salesperson.

3. Trust

Finding a recruiter with subject-matter expertise and your team’s faith is half of the battle. Hiring from within the industry adds an edge, because those recruiters already understand your team’s capabilities and job descriptions—less time needed for onboarding. In some cases, the recruiter you end up hiring and your internal team may already share a rapport, especially if folks on your own team have been contacted by or enjoyed working with this recruiter in the past.

4. Andy Dufresne

Remember the scene in Shawshank Redemption when Tim Robbins’ character tunnels through hundreds of feet of sewer to emerge to freedom? That was me, being hired out of recruiting four years ago. The enthusiasm former recruiters can bring when they move from the sideline into the game is incalculably powerful. There are great people out there who can lead your sales efforts, no matter your industry. Many of them aren’t agency biz dev or account managers currently, but that doesn’t mean they won’t excel.

More than anything, the person that represents your firm has to embody a passion for who you are and what you do for your clients. You want a student of your work speaking about your organization. You want someone in awe of the members of your team describing their skills and accomplishments. Finding the right person culturally is more important than finding the most likeable salesperson.

We’re hiring another member into our sales team here at Happy Cog, and I’m looking everywhere—in other roles, in other organizations—for the right person, not the right salesperson. How can we find you?

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