The End of Transactional Relationships in Recruitment: 7 Tips for Developing High Value Partnerships
For years, the world of recruiting was as much a numbers game as anything else. The more contacts you made to keep your funnel full of potential clients and placements, the more likely you were to succeed. Times have changed.
With increased competition on both sides of full-scale recruiting, it is no longer about the volume, but more about building high-value relationships.
On the sales or client procurement side, you cannot afford to be stuck in a transactional relationship. It is too easy for someone else to come along that is desperate enough for the business to undercut the price. If your client relationships are strictly transactional, you can quickly lose business to the lowest bidder. At best, it may put you in a situation where you must cut prices to maintain business.
Developing meaningful and high-value partnerships means getting to know your clients and their business in a way that provides value beyond placement. Here are some proven ways recruiters, consultants, executives, and managers have created more value.
Prioritise Value Over Price
Start building the relationship from the beginning by focusing on how your company adds value to customers and solves their problems. Instead of positioning your services as a bargain, emphasise the value of a successful relationship from the beginning.
What can you bring to the table that others cannot? In sales, we call this the USP (Unique Sales Proposition). Highlight what is unique about what you do and how you go about it. Translate that into the benefits your clients will get from partnering with you.
Everyone loves a bargain, but if the solution doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter how cheap it is. Price is always part of the negotiation, but rarely the determining factor in purchase decisions.
Know Your Customers (And Yourself)
The better you know the client’s business and can understand their business needs, the better you can take care of them. Taking the time to learn about their industry and unique situation can help meet their needs. Once you’ve proven you can deliver, price becomes less of a determining factor in repeat business.
It’s also important to know what you can accomplish. You are in the business of building long-term relationships, so it’s better to say no if you can’t deliver something than take the business and fail. Know your limitations and don’t overpromise.
Even in business, you are still dealing with people. Building a relationship on mutual interests can help create a bond. Take a moment to write a hand-written thank you note, celebrate a birthday or personal achievement. Say congratulations on a business milestone.
There’s another truism. Everyone wants to look smart. Give your clients the tools they need to demonstrate they made a good decision to work with you. It can be a powerful opportunity to help them look good in their role and justify a continuing business interest.
Become A Subject Matter Expert
In order to become a subject matter expert, you have to develop a mixture of credentials. You need to have the education and experience to actually be a subject matter expert. Then, you need to market that expertise to be recognised for it.
Above all, it takes demonstrating
knowledge of relevant information. Here are a few ways to showcase your
subject matter expertise:
- Thought-leadership articles about industry topics
- Speak at events
- Networking with industry leaders
- Share relevant industry news
- B2B Content Marketing: Develop a blog or guest post on industry websites
- Training and Certifications
Even for experienced and knowledgeable experts, showing that you are constantly getting recruitment training and improving your skills demonstrates you are staying on top of the latest trends and techniques.
Showcase Testimonials, Success Stories, and Case Studies
Case studies and success stories can make for memorable sales tools. They can also help foster relationships. Success stories can powerfully demonstrate how you’ve solved problems in similar industries. Case studies can show you work with other important clients. Testimonials show you have customers that are satisfied with your work. This approach breeds confidence and trust.
You can also use them to give public acknowledgment to your clients and reinforce they made a good decision to work with you. You will both look good, and they are likely to share it with others both internally and externally.
Create A Layered Strategy
The biggest advantage of creating a layered, or bundled, approach to your services is that it is difficult for competitors to match it. In transactional relationships, competitors can offer a menu of options and take business with a lower price for the same services you provide. A bundled solution that addresses multiple items will be harder to compare head-to-head.
You may also offer products or services that your competitors may not be able to offer. Even if they come in at a lower price point for other services, they may be unable to handle the full range of things you can offer.
It sounds so simple. Be clear up front about what you will (and will not) do. Do it. Then demonstrate that you did what you said you would. Along the way, be transparent in your dealings and make sure you are keeping stakeholders informed at key points.
Every business can tell you horror stories about vendors that over-promised, failed to deliver on promises, or simply failed to do the job. You can stand out by doing business the right way.
This establishes trust. The greater the level of trust between you and your partner, the higher the likelihood that they will continue to work with you.
Create High Value Partnerships
Building client relationships, especially high value partnerships can significantly tilt the odds in your favour. This avoids transactional relationships and having your business treated as a commodity.