02 December 2015

Are you 'touching base' ... and pouring your credibility down the toilet?

Is it possible to come up with a more clichéd reason to call a client or prospect than 'I'm just touching base'?

I cringe if I ever hear a recruiter say that hackneyed phrase. They may as well just say 'I can't be bothered thinking too hard about what I should say but I hope you will talk to me'. It's the ultimate in recruiter laziness. And it's just as prevalent now as it ever was.

No wonder clients and prospects are increasingly reluctant to pick up the phone or continue a conversation when they know a recruiter is on the other end. Who wants to have a conversation in business hours with a person who just wants to 'touch base'?

Every phone call you make to a client or prospect should be one in which you endeavor to enhance your credibility with the person you are talking to. You won't achieve this goal with every call for many reasons, some outside of your control. However opening the conversation with the 'touch base' reason is just recklessly pouring your credibility, whatever amount of it you had, down the toilet.

Having a credible reason to set the context for the call really isn't that hard, you just have to give it some thought (and keep good notes on your database from previous conversations).

Here's a list of twenty-two reasons you can use to prompt your gray matter next time you're about to pick up the phone and call a client or prospect when you aren't running a current recruitment assignment with them:

  1. To follow up on a placement (credit check), whether in credit period or not
  2. You read something about the client in the media and you want to discuss the topic with them
  3. To follow up an article of interest you sent them (by email or snail mail)
  4. To arrange to bring morning/afternoon tea (for the temps generally, or for a special occasion such as a temp's one year anniversary, wedding, birthday etc)
  5. To arrange a coffee or lunch
  6. To invite them to an industry breakfast/lunch/cocktail party
  7. To ask whether they will be at an industry event or function that you will be attending
  8. To invite them to an in-house function
  9. To ask their professional opinion on something (eg salary levels, performance management issue, University undergraduate or post graduate program or other professional course)
  10. To float/reverse market a candidate
  11. To ask for any candidate referrals for a job you are working on
  12. To discuss the job they advertised directly on their careers site, job board or elsewhere
  13. You saw an ad another recruiter was running that read like it was your prospect/client's company
  14. To ask whether they may need a temp or temps for holiday cover over Christmas/New Year, Easter or any other seasonal period
  15. They recruited a temp(s) this time last year - might they have the same need again?
  16. To mention something you read or heard about a specific personal interest they may have (parenting, golf, footy team, stamp collecting etc)
  17. To take a reference
  18. To conduct a review of a recruitment exercise you recently completed on their behalf
  19. To request their input (eg quote or to interview them or have them on a panel Q&A) for a blog or newsletter you, or somebody else in your company, is writing.
  20. To provide additional advice on an issue they have asked your opinion on previously (performance management, salary review, training & development etc)
  21. To advise about other services your company offers that the client or prospect may not be aware of, or has forgotten about.
  22. You supply recruitment services to another business in their industry/business park/suburb/street/building and you thought it would be appropriate to meet to talk about their needs
The most important thing to remember in having appropriate topics to talk about with a client or prospect is to keep detailed notes in your database so that you can refer back to previous topics of conversation. Do not rely on your memory!

No matter how engaging the conversation was, the passing of days (and likely, weeks) and the hundreds (thousands?) of conversations you will have in the interim, will mean that you will forget important details of the conversation and, under pressure, you will resort to 'touching base' with your next call.

Please don't be that clichéd recruiter.

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