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Any agency leader attempting to incentivise, urge, or encourage their consultant to do “more BD” will be familiar with the response coming from their harried team member.

“I don’t have time; I’m too busy filling jobs.”

Consultants wanting to avoid picking up their phone to make BD calls know that the lure of another placement to help the manager reach or exceed the monthly team target is a reliable way to deflect the manager’s insistence on “more BD”.

In a market awash with jobs the biggest challenge for most recruiters is dealing with a flood of vacancies from prospective new clients desperate to hire staff any way they can.

Many of these jobs are low-probability jobs because they are, typically, from employers who are offering a bog-standard job with bog-standard pay and have registered their vacancies with multiple agencies.

You can be almost certain that the recruiter who is “too busy” to meet their minimum BD target has a much higher percentage of low-probability jobs than is healthy.

The easiest way for any leader to ensure a team member isn’t “too busy’ to do BD is to undertake a forensic culling of their low-probability jobs.

Scarcity is a predictable and powerful motivator. As Dr. Robert Cialdini, author of the seminal book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, says, “Opportunities seem more valuable to us when their availability is limited.”

The Hays business model is built on ensuring that, by consistently splitting desks, there is always an appropriate amount of scarcity to keep their consultants hitting the phones to drum up more business.

The Hays leadership understands that a consultant with too many jobs is definitely a problem that is best solved by hiring another 360-degree recruiter, rather than by hiring a candidate manager to help the consultant with their golden goose book of clients.

A well-fed recruiter is at high risk of becoming a lazy recruiter; too focused on the here and now.

A hungry recruiter has the appropriate balance between working on their current jobs and prospecting for new ones. They are focused on keeping lean and fit to ensure they don’t lose their competitive edge.

Working on a low-probability job isn’t the problem, however, overworking a low-probability job most definitely is.

A high-performing recruiter may still work on low-probability jobs but the critical difference is that the high-performer knows when to cut their losses, delete the job and pick up the phone to generate a better one.

A rookie or average recruiter, consciously or unconsciously, avoids the necessary BD by being “too busy” working on all their jobs like they are high-probability jobs; almost certainly a delusional approach.

You maximise the likelihood that a recruiter undertakes the necessary BD by creating the necessary conditions for scarcity by, firstly, ensuring there is agreement about how to qualify a job to assign it as low-probability or high-probability then, secondly, ensuring a low-probability job is either not worked or has a strict time-limit assigned to it.

For any leader or recruiter unconvinced of the merits of the scarcity approach to job flow I invite you to run a list of the most recent twenty lost jobs and then approximate how many hours were invested for $0 return.

Then consider what might have happened if only half of those hours had been invested in BD.

I suspect you might then reconsider your approach.

If you don’t, I am sure your competitors are very happy you are working on the type of jobs they have long since declined to work on, or stopped attempting to fill.

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