5 February 2021 | by Louise Archer

Some clients already know they have a problem. They have tried to secure the talent they need on a contingent basis and failed. They can see that continually asking agencies to send them CVs for free is not solving their problem and they are frustrated with contingent recruitment. Clients are actively looking for a solution.

Selling Retained Search As A Solution

When we sell a contingent service, we are not actually selling anything. When we ask a client to work with us on a contingent basis, we are actually saying, “Please can I send you some CVs, for free?”.

Whereas, when we sell a retained solution, we are asking our client to part with a significant sum of money. This is because we are actually selling something and this, of course, requires more skill.

I often talk about all professional services being solutions, solutions that clients buy to solve their problems.

So, one of the skills we need to develop, in order to get good at selling retained solutions, is helping the client to identify their problem and what is causing it.

Which then allows us the opportunity to provide a solution.

Identifying why the Client Is Frustrated with Contingent

If you were to suggest to your client a well-planned, targeted headhunt carried out by your skilled search consultants who will commit to working with the client until the best possible result is reached, the client would bite your hand off for it.

But, some clients haven’t reached that stage. They are still trying and trying to secure the talent they need on a contingent basis.

These clients are feeling pain. They are frustrated by being bombarded with agencies, hearing that they are the best and all trying to persuade the client to let them send CVs for free. These clients are frustrated with poor outcomes and they don’t understand what is going wrong.

Clients are frustrated with the lack of quality candidates, receiving duplicate CVs, unqualified CVs, too many CVs, not enough CVs, the wrong CVs. Clients are frustrated that sometimes they get a good service from agencies, sometimes a terrible service, or a flurry of activity early on and then nothing. They are frustrated that a consultant who has sent good CVs in the past isn’t anymore.

They are frustrated that they aren’t getting what they need when they need it, and they often aren’t enjoying the process at all. Some even go as far as to say that they “hate recruitment agencies” as a result.

Retained Search Benefits the Client

Clients are frustrated with contingent recruitment. What the client doesn’t realise is that all of these problems, pain and frustration is caused by the contingent recruitment process. The process of “sending CVs for free.”

Because when we work on a “no win, no fee” basis, we have to constantly balance our risk of spending time on something that might not result in a fee. So we can only do so much.

We cannot commit a dedicated, highly skilled resource to a carefully planned and well-executed search. We cannot systematically identify every candidate across all of the target peer and competitor organisations. Nor the target location, taking a clear and compelling message to the market about our client and their activities. Recruiters professionally assess each and every interested candidate against the key functional and behavioural competencies and share that information in a well presented and easy to digest way. Nor can we collect live, accurate, crucial data and intelligence on salaries, perception of the business in the market and competitor activities. We definitely can’t commit to working with that client, come what may, until we reach a result.

In a retained search, however, we can.

With financial commitment from our client, we can do all of these things. We can work in a committed partnership and apply a well-planned, carefully executed, targeted search. Importantly, we can commit to working with our client until the position is filled.

We have a guaranteed solution to the client’s frustration with contingent

So, before you tell the client how you would like to work with them, before you push a retainer onto a client, have a go first at finding out if their current methods are working for them.

Are they getting what they need, when they need it, and is it an enjoyable process?

If not, find out why not. Are they using a free CV service which is causing frustration?

If so, you can then tell them that it doesn’t have to be like that. You then can share your solution to their problem.

Louise Archer

Louise Archer

Louise has worked on the front-line of recruitment for twenty years. Having been a contingent recruiter before transitioning to retained she understands the struggles that consultants and companies face, operating on a contingent basis. Louise started training Retained Search four years ago, and since then has taught hundreds of recruiters to move to Retained.

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