Are you ‘touching base’ … and pouring your credibility down the toilet?

Is it possible to come up with a more clichéd reason to call
a client or prospect than ‘I’m just touching base’?

 

I cringe if I ever hear a recruiter say that hackneyed
phrase. They may as well just say ‘I can’t be bothered thinking too hard about
what I should say but I hope you will talk to me’. It’s the ultimate in
recruiter laziness. And it’s just as prevalent now as it ever was.

 

No wonder clients and prospects are increasingly reluctant to
pick up the phone or continue a conversation when they know a recruiter is on
the other end. Who wants to have a conversation in business hours with a person
who just wants to ‘touch base’?

 

Every phone call you make to a client or prospect
should be one in which you endeavor to enhance your credibility with the person
you are talking to. You won’t achieve this goal with every call for many
reasons, some outside of your control. However opening the conversation with
the ‘touch base’ reason is just recklessly pouring your credibility, whatever
amount of it you had, down the toilet.

 

Having a credible reason to set the context for the
call really isn’t that hard, you just have to give it some thought (and keep
good notes on your database from previous conversations).

 

Here’s a list of twenty-two reasons you can use to
prompt your gray matter next time you’re about to pick up the phone and call a
client or prospect when you aren’t running a current recruitment assignment
with them:

 

  1. To follow up
    on a placement (credit check), whether in credit period or not
  2. You read
    something about the client in the media and you want to discuss the topic
    with them
  3. To follow up
    an article of interest you sent them (by email or snail mail)
  4. To arrange to
    bring morning/afternoon tea (for the temps generally, or for a special
    occasion such as a temp’s one year anniversary, wedding, birthday etc)
  5. To arrange a
    coffee or lunch
  6. To invite them
    to an industry breakfast/lunch/cocktail party
  7. To ask whether
    they will be at an industry event or function that you will be attending
  8. To invite them
    to an in-house function
  9. To ask their
    professional opinion on something (eg salary levels, performance
    management issue, University undergraduate or post graduate program or
    other professional course)
  10. To
    float/reverse market a candidate
  11. To ask for any
    candidate referrals for a job you are working on
  12. To discuss the
    job they advertised directly on their careers site, job board or elsewhere
  13. You saw an ad
    another recruiter was running that read like it was your prospect/client’s
    company
  14. To ask whether
    they may need a temp or temps for holiday cover over Christmas/New Year,
    Easter or any other seasonal period
  15. They recruited
    a temp(s) this time last year – might they have the same need again?
  16. To mention
    something you read or heard about a specific personal interest they may
    have (parenting, golf, footy team, stamp collecting etc)
  17. To take a
    reference
  18. To conduct a
    review of a recruitment exercise you recently completed on their behalf
  19. To request
    their input (eg quote or to interview them or have them on a panel
    Q&A) for a blog or newsletter you, or somebody else in your company,
    is writing.
  20. To provide
    additional advice on an issue they have asked your opinion on previously
    (performance management, salary review, training & development etc)
  21. To advise
    about other services your company offers that the client or prospect may
    not be aware of, or has forgotten about.
  22. You supply
    recruitment services to another business in their industry/business
    park/suburb/street/building and you thought it would be appropriate to
    meet to talk about their needs
The most important thing to remember in having
appropriate topics to talk about with a client or prospect is to keep
detailed notes in your database   so that you can refer back to previous
topics of conversation. Do not rely on your memory!

 

No matter how engaging the conversation was, the
passing of days (and likely, weeks) and the hundreds (thousands?) of
conversations you will have in the interim, will mean that you will forget
important details of the conversation and, under pressure, you will resort to
‘touching base’ with your next call.

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