Client, dead client or prospect? Mind your language, recruiters

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?

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