Most recruiters are guilty of this one. ‘Giving up too soon’ is the one mistake that separates the professional recruiters from the amateurs.
So when is ‘too soon’? How many rejections can a person take before the lead is scratched off the call list? Moreover, how can you better tailor your pitch so that your follow-up call is happily received, rather than a source of irritation?
Here’s a guide to follow up calls, and how they can dramatically transform your conversion rates, whether you are pitching a prospective big client, or chatting with an extremely wary passive candidate.
Allow the data to overcome your fear of rejection: Follow up calls WORK
It is hard to call someone whohas already said no to your recruiting services. Most of us would prefer just to move onto the next lead, feeling we are almost guaranteed to have better luck with someone who has not already outright rejected what we are offering.
However, that is where you would be wrong.
Data collected over 1.7million calls by ConnectandSell shows that you are 2.26 % more likely to get a meeting from someone who’s already rejected you than you are to get a meeting out of a cold call.
The reasons for this are as follows.
1. You know the contact details are solid.
When you are cold calling, there’s every chance your call will be a dead end only because the contact does not work there anymore, doesn’t answer their phone to unknown numbers, or are not the right person at the company to speak to.
2. You have information from your last call that you can use.
When the prospect said ‘no’, or ‘not right now’ last time you spoke, there’s a good chance you managed to get some information from them about why it is not for them. A good recruiter uses this information, plus any other company background research, to tailor a pitch more likely to get to ‘yes’.
3. There’s an existing rapport.
Even if the person said no last time, you are not a stranger to them. But when you open with ‘I spoke to you last month about a recruitment challenge your company is facing’ or ‘a new career opportunity at a blue chip company’, you’ve already broken down some of that wary barrier that almost all of us have when we answer the phone to someone we don’t know.
The first call has made the first building block of rapport; you now need to build on it.
4. Their business need or career need might have changed.
When you called before, the prospective client or passive candidate was not interested, either because they had no need for your services at the time, or just hadn’t had a chance to think about it. (Some people do not like being rushed into decisions, and would prefer to tell you no, hang up and think about it rather than give you any sense they are interested!)
Also, the company or candidate might have had something change- their internal hiring manager quits, their current recruiter disappointed them, or they have got a new manager at work they do not like and are therefore looking for new opportunities. You have no idea what’s changed since you spoke to a person last, so the follow up call is crucial.
5. They know you are serious.
This one can play out either way. Some people see persistence as downright pesky, while others see it as a sign you are a serious contender for their business. It is impossible to know this from a preliminary conversation- you must persist to understand how the lead reacts to persistence!
Done right, there’s nothing pestering about persistence: you are just showing that their business or next career move is of genuine interest to you and that you are something more than just another cold-caller.
When is too soon to ‘give up’ following up?
Ok, so you have followed up once, and they have said no again. Is it now time to give up?
A staggering 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact. The second contact generates a measly 3% of sales, so if you are giving up at this point, your billing numbers are hardly going to set the world on fire.
However, 25% of recruiters do give up at the second call, and another 12% of recruiters only make it to the third call before throwing in the proverbial towel.
Your opportunity kicks in where their effort drops off. Be the recruiter that keeps following up.
Of course, you do need to use your discretion here. If a prospect has bluntly said, ‘Stop bothering me. Take me off your list; the answer is no’, then you should stop following up with that person. (However, don’t give up on the company, there may be another way in worth pursuing if you can find another contact with some influence over recruitment.)
How to make sure your follow ups fall on receptive ears
As we mentioned above, follow-up calls have one glaring advantage: you already know something about the company, so you can tailor your pitch better than you did first time round. Do not squander this advantage or your follow up call will probably end in disappointment.
Do a bit of background research on the person- check out their LinkedIn and any other useful platforms, try and get a sense of the person and maybe find the information you can lead with, like their favourite sporting team.
You may also need to space your calls out, so the prospect feels you are ‘checking in’ to see if their circumstances have changed, rather than harassing them.
So, ask yourself, how many times do you usually follow up before you give up? Are you giving up too soon? Why not try to make at least one more follow up call than you normally do over the next few weeks and see how you get on.
Until next time,