Reverse marketing is often looked upon as a dreaded chore. Especially when it comes to picking up the telephone and contacting some unknown stranger. At times, this can be just as terrifying if not more than public speaking. 'What if they hang up?' or, ‘what if they are rude?’ Often enough employment consultants come into the job not expecting the cold calling aspect of it. Other times their fear is based on not really knowing how it’s done. For those reading who are unfamiliar with what reverse marketing is, I will explain it from an employment services context. It is usually when you seek out organisations and employers for the purposes of marketing your jobseeker to them. Reverse marketing can be performed in any of the following ways; letters, door to door, emails, networking and cold calling.
For the purpose of this article, I will cover cold calling since this is the most common form of reverse marketing done and often challenging for employment consultants. Cold calling if done right, with the right intention and applied skills, can turn out to be quite enjoyable. You may wonder, ‘but what would ever make such an unpleasant chore fun?’ Because when you start to see yourself producing results, hitting your targets and helping more people get back into work you may begin to feel a great sense of fulfillment. And are you really selling? Think about it. What are you offering other than a service? A free recruitment service where they get to give someone a chance who is unemployed. And the more barriers this person has, the better you will feel that you have made a life-changing impact on someone. I have personally dealt with plenty of employers who are socially conscious and are often sold on the desire to make a difference. So, once you start reframing cold calling from being an obligation to doing a service for your jobseeker, picking up the telephone will become much easier.
How does one become good at making cold calls? Firstly, it’s not about picking up the telephone and going with the flow. Yes, there is a minority out there who seem to have the natural gift of the gab and a voice like a hypnotist. But the majority of us need preparation and to have an awareness of certain applied skills. Most important lots of practice. The following are just a few of many tips on how to make engaging employers by telephone effective.
1. Do your Research - Doing research is crucial. Search the company website, the name of the manager, how many staff they have, their company policy and size. Through making various phone calls, try and build a relationship with the gatekeeper and investigate who the key decision makers are. Create a database of names, phone numbers, and decision makers. This list is to also make your follow up calls easier to track. Follow up calls is where most of the fun usually happens. Through this research, add people on LinkedIn and start building relationships and your own personal brand. Please note that research also means knowledge of your caseload and who is on it, what job they are looking for, who is job ready, their strengths and weaknesses.
2. Build Relationships and Create Awareness - I will say this time and time again. A cold call is not necessarily about getting a yes, but rather these three key aspects:
1. Building relationships
2. Creating awareness
3. Gathering information
If you go into the phone call with getting a 'yes' goal in mind, you will be left disappointed and discouraged. So don’t expect the person to be like “yes, of course, I would love to see your candidate,” from the first phone call, although it does happen if they are hiring. The main purpose of a phone call is to first build awareness about your organisation and your pool of candidates, while at the same time building a gradual relationship. Gather information for your database, so make sure you get their details, email address and send them a marketing email, or any resumes you may want to include for reverse marketing purposes. Make sure that you keep a log of all your phone calls because following up is just as crucial if not more than that initial phone call. Now if you feel that you have built enough rapport with the employer from that first phone call, then don't limit yourself from setting up a meeting then and there, in order to build a stronger relationship.
3. Ask Useful Questions - An effective salesperson listens 80% of the time. Asking the right questions is quite powerful. Questions will not only enable you to build rapport but also demonstrate that you’re taking an interest in the employer’s needs rather than shooting information at them. Another benefit of asking questions is it gets the employer to come up with the solutions on their own and sell to themselves. Other times using questions is a good way to keep them on the phone or build rapport. So always make sure that you have a list of valuable questions to ask in front of you. Some examples of useful questions could be:
“Have you used this type of service before?”
“What do you look for in a candidate?”
“What are your biggest challenges when recruiting?
“Have you ever worked with or hired someone with a disability?”
If you want to learn more about questioning skills please feel free to check out my article: Shut Up and Ask Good Questions - Key to a Successful Sale.
4. Prepare an Elevator Pitch - Have a pitch, but please try not to use it the first ten minutes while you speak to a potential prospect. Only put it into use when you have asked the right questions, gathered enough information and built some rapport. Yet it's important to have a pitch in order to speak with knowledge and conviction when asked about your product and what you offer. So what is an elevator pitch? Imagine that you’re standing inside an elevator and the door opens. It’s your lucky day because who steps in? It’s the HR manager of Target. Now is your chance to tell this person all about your company, the pool of candidates you provide and what benefits they will receive from using your services. But, you only have 30 to 60 seconds to do this before they step out of the elevator. Your pitch needs to be short, simple and straight to the point before that person's eyes glaze over and their mind switches off. The pitch should be written out to include the problem your prospect has and how you, your company and jobseeker/s can solve their problem. But don't forget that asking useful questions initially is always better, so that way you can tailor your pitch around their needs and problems.
5. Know the Features and Benefits - Now this is quite crucial. Take a moment and on a piece of paper jot down all the features and benefits that an employer will receive if they use your organisation. For example, a feature would be the wage subsidy offered and some benefits of this feature could be, receiving financial government support, saving money and trying out the candidate at minimum cost for at least three months. Another feature is that you will take over all their pre-screening, and the benefit of this could be that it will save them time, money and the inconvenience of going through hundreds of resumes so therefore more productivity in their work and higher revenue. Also, when you are reverse marketing an individual candidate you will need to make a list of their features and benefits. How can this candidate’s skills and attributes be useful to the employer and position available? Always have this list in front of you, including your jobseeker's resume.
One final note, don’t wait for your manager to set your reverse marketing targets. Try and exceed their targets and take responsibility for your own KPIs and outcomes. Set yourself daily, weekly and monthly goals. How many calls are you going to make per day? How many interviews do you expect to get from these calls per week? How many job placements per month? Remember to keep practicing and fine tuning your skills and eventually, you will discover new techniques and what works for you.
By Rana Kordahi
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