Ross in the Media

This article originally appeared in ShortList on 24 April 2012 1:00pm


Discount demands are a red flag: Clennett


Recruiters who win business by agreeing to clients' requests for fee discounts might find in the end that those clients are not worth having, says industry trainer and expert Ross Clennett.

"Many years of recruitment experience tell me the clients who want the biggest discounts are the hardest to please and also tend to be the biggest time-wasters," Clennett told an RCSA webinar last week.

Difficult clients often made difficult employers, he added, which increased the risk of candidates leaving within the three-month guarantee period.

Ironically, discounting could also harm the relationship with a client, he said.

"It makes your original fee like an ambit claim and therefore damages your trust and credibility with your client.

"It's easy to drop the fee, but the client will be thinking, 'Well, were they trying to shaft me in the first place?'"

Preparation and confidence key to negotiating

Clennett said recruiters needed to do their homework if they were to come out on top in a discounting conversation.

"If you're tentative [or] if you're dreading negotiations, you will lose 19 times out of 20 because your fear and lack of preparation will be sensed by your clients and they will take advantage of it," he said.

"[In negotiations] the most confident person wins and you won't be confident unless you have rehearsed, role played, and practiced."

A common mistake was becoming defensive and attempting to justify the fee, when in fact the client was the one who should explain why the cost was unreasonable in the first place.

"If you are defending or justifying then you are losing," said Clennett.

He suggested asking the client a series of polite but assertive questions to gain the front foot - what fees had they previously paid? What level of service did they get for that? What price did they expect to pay now, and what service did they expect for that price?

Clients "like thirsty alcoholics"

While discounting was generally something to steer clear of, if unavoidable, the recruiter should always get something in return, Clennett said.

For instance, he said, if the recruiter was reducing their fee, the client might agree to a part payment upfront, a cancellation fee or a reduction in the guarantee period.

A discount for multiple roles was also an option, but such a deal should be clearly structured and agreed in writing rather than a vague promise of future work.

"Clients are like the thirsty alcoholic who will do anything to get a drink, and when they're sober the next morning they can't remember what they've said or what they've promised," Clennett said.

"Never negotiate away anything unless you get something worthwhile
now in return - not in the future."


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