The most overused word in a recruiter’s lexicon is ‘client’.
It is frequently used by recruiters to denote any form of customer or prospective customer whether or not the person or company in question has actually engaged the services of said recruiter or paid for any services provided by said recruiter.
I believe it’s very important to use customer language as carefully and precisely as possible to ensure that the appropriate level of attention and service is provided to each subset of customers.
Here’s an example of what I mean:
Unqualified Prospect: Any company/person who, on the basic information available to us, may potentially have a need for our recruitment services.
Dead Prospect*: A company/person we have spoken to and from that initial communication we have decided not to pursue them further for the time being. A date of 6 – 12 months into the future may be nominated for a re-visit of this decision.
Qualified Prospect: A company/person we have spoken to and from that initial communication we have decided to pursue them further. A follow up date and form of contact has been logged.
Hot Prospect: A company/person we have spoken to and from that initial communication we have decided to pursue them further with urgent and/or short term action because the likelihood that we can obtain profitable work in the near future from this prospect is strong.
Working Prospect: A company/person who has given us an assignment to work on (current or in the past 6 months) but we have yet to invoice the client for any services.
Client: A company/person that we have invoiced in the past 6 months.
Key client: A company/person that we have invoiced multiple times in the past 6 months and one we are seeking to build a stronger relationship with to both protect our existing business and increase our sales in the future.
Lapsed client: A company/person that we have invoiced six months to 2 years ago.
Dead client*: A client we have invoiced in the past two years with whom we do not wish to do business with again for the foreseeable future (due to slow or non-payment of invoices or some other defined reason).
*A Dead Client or Dead Prospect may also both be re-defined as a Headhunt Prospect – a company that we actively seek to headhunt candidates from.
The most successful recruitment agencies that I have had anything to do with were/are very considered with the language they use internally, both verbally and in flagging contacts within their database.
If you decided to get serious about your ‘client language’ and went through your current ‘client’ list and reclassified each ‘client’ according to my list above (or a shortened version of it) what insights would that give you? What would you be doing differently? How might your time be used more effectively? Who would you devote more or less time to? Who would really be worth a Christmas gift (or even a Christmas card?)
Isn’t it time you had a long, hard look at how your client language may be, unintentionally, hindering your client management and business development?