18 April 2023 | by Jordan Taylor

Financial commitment from your client can be a nightmare if you don’t know how to implement a robust retained delivery process. When you start to learn how to sell retainers, it’s easy to fall into the idea of ‘sell now, figure out how to deliver later’ which is exactly what I did when I first started to win retained assignments. This created many challenges which turned financial commitment from my client into a burden.

3 Top Retained Search Delivery Mistakes

I made mistakes perfecting my retained search delivery process – which is fine, it’s normal to make mistakes. But now I can share them with you, so you don’t have to learn the hard way.

Delivery isn’t easy. In my opinion it’s harder than the sell. Here are the 3 top mistakes I made which caused the process to be even more challenging than it needed to be.

1. A lack of understanding in what ‘delivery’ means

As recruiters, we can’t pull rabbits out of hats. Ultimately, we can’t shortlist candidates that don’t exist. Just because the client has paid a retainer, doesn’t mean you have to find them the ‘perfect’ candidate. You can only find them the best available candidate on the market at that given time.

Our job in delivery is to present all the search data and the intelligence to the client in a way that enables them to view the talent pool as a whole and that the shortlist we’ve presented to them is made up of the best talent available to them on the market. This allows them to make best-informed decisions as we progress through the search process.

I didn’t do that – I kept searching, thinking there was a better candidate out there. I was working on roles which I dreaded talking to the client about, with no end in sight. This is why we follow the retained delivery process, and constantly drive our clients to a result.

2. Underestimating the value of steering calls

I can’t stress enough how important steering calls are to the delivery process. If you are dealing with a tough, hard to fill role where there is no progression with the search, it’s easy to delay or pray that your client cancels a steering call.

This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Steering calls are for your benefit – not for the client. The calls enable you to keep control, to re-steer the search, and ultimately drive your client to a result. If your client can’t or won’t attend these calls – the search must go on hold.

3. Selling without being able to deliver

As a rule of thumb, don’t sell if you can’t deliver. I sold many retainers with no mind to whether me or my team could deliver them.

Some recruiters don’t want to work retained because they must commit to the assignment. In my experience, the only time I haven’t liked that commitment is when I wasn’t confident that I could deliver.

Selling when you aren’t confident that you can deliver always ends badly. All roles are fillable as a caveat, but this requires the client to be receptive to feedback and flexible with their parameters.

It’s so important to understand your client’s needs. Position your retained search solution right and always deliver with absolute commitment. If you deliver – your customers will come back time and time again.

Retained search delivery mindset

Selling when you can’t deliver isn’t one of those small mistakes. It is a fundamental mindset problem.

Securing financial commitment and thinking that it’s going to increase revenue– is catastrophic.

Some food for thought- in talking with over 1,000 recruitment agency owners, we’ve found that a typical contingent business has a fill rate of 20-30%. So, if you deliver retainers using the same contingent method, I can guarantee you’ll end up with the same completion rate. Retained fill rates stand at 95-100%. The retained search delivery process is straightforward once you know how. If you need to develop a robust delivery process, talk to us about our training today.

Jordan Taylor

Jordan Taylor

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