Recruiter Training: Best Practices for Generating Sales Leads Blog Feature
Dan Fisher

By: Dan Fisher on April 6th, 2018

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Recruiter Training: Best Practices for Generating Sales Leads


Generating quality sales leads on a consistent basis is critical to the success of any recruiter. In this blog post I’m going to outline the different types of sales leads recruiters can generate, the role and responsibility of the recruiter in generating sales leads and sales lead generation strategies to adopt. I will also lay out the different scenarios or context in which a recruiter may generate a sales lead.

 Before I define what a sales lead is, let me define what is NOT a sales lead. A sales lead is NOT: 

  • The name of a hiring manager
  • The name of a company
  • The name of a company, hiring manager and phone number
  • Information indicating that a hiring  manager may be interviewing
  • A job posting

Its important that recruiters are clear on this because often times recruiters will share this level of information and then wonder why the salesperson never follows up. The reason is, when a recruiter hands a salesperson the name of a contact and company without any other information or context, calling that lead is no different than calling any other cold contact pulled from LinkedIn.  For IT staffing firms who wish to increase their sales leads, the starting point is defining exactly what constitutes a sales lead. Based on my experience I believe there are three different types of sales leads.  Below I provide a basic overview of each including the criteria required for each.  

Hot Sales Leadhot sales lead

  • First and last name of hiring manager, including correct spelling
  • Correct name and spelling of the company
  • Correct phone number (did you call and test the phone #)
  • Information obtained from a candidate or anyone in the marketplace providing factual information that this hiring manager is actively interviewing (within the past 5 days) candidates for a contract opportunity  

 Warm Lead

  • First and last name of hiring manager, including correct spelling
  • Correct name and spelling of the company
  • Correct phone number
  • We know for a fact that this hiring manager currently has contractors/consultants on their team.  We do NOT know if they are actively hiring. 

 Cold Lead/Market Intelligence

  • First and last name of hiring manager, including correct spelling
  • Correct name and spelling of the company
  • Correct phone number
  • We have gained second-hand knowledge that this hiring manager is responsible for a large or new project and may be currently evaluating staffing companies. We don’t know if they have the authority to hire contractors, and we don’t know if they currently use staffing firms.     

Starting with a basic definition and agreement of what constitutes a sales lead allows for proper expectations to be set between recruiting managers, recruiters, sales reps and sales managers. Of course the sales and recruiting manager will need to establish expectations regarding quantity of leads, follow up cadence, etc.

 Recruiters “are the market.” What this term means in the world of IT staffing is that recruiters—NOT salespeople—have their pulse on the market and understand candidates current situation. How or why you ask?  Because recruiters are speaking with contractors all day long, day in and day out. Recruiters are in the best position to understand supply and demand trends regarding skill sets, experience, pay rates and most importantly which companies are hiring. Recruiters are talking with contractors everyday about new project opportunities and in return hearing from contractors about their current/existing projects and the new projects being presented to them from other recruiters. Recruiters are (should also be) speaking with their existing consultants on a weekly basis to understand what opportunities are being pitched to them from other recruiters. These are sales leads!  Recruiters should encourage their candidates to take those calls, just so long as they pass the details on to them. Because recruiters sit at the center of this vortex, recruiters are in the best position to generate sales leads.

While this is common knowledge, this is not common practice; when speaking with candidates, recruiters should always be asking for the following information:

  1. Name and title of their supervisors
  2. Name of client companies and hiring managers where friends and colleagues have been interviewing (as the interviewer or interviewee) 
  3. Name of client companies currently seeking IT contractors and name of hiring manager(s)

Here are the two most common scenarios in which a recruiter will find him or herself in when trying to generate a sales lead in which case they may have to negotiate with their candidate for the relevant information:

You have a candidate in which the two of you have agreed will be presented to your client. In order to present the candidate you will need three professional references from current and/or prior supervisors. Capturing and calling these references can be a source of sales leads and is by far the most common way to generate a sales lead.  Once you get the name of the references and conduct the actual reference check calls, you can “flip” the call into a sales lead.

The second scenario is where the recruiter has a candidate but no opportunity to present the candidate to. The recruiter can still ask the candidate for references of past supervisors.  Obtaining candidates’ references—especially when you do not have an active job opportunity to present—can be a challenge.  It is critically important that you properly disarm your candidates and make them feel comfortable in sharing information with you BEFORE you ask for references. Remember, you must earn the right to this information. In some instances however, you will hear objections when asking for a candidate reference, including:

  • "I don't want to burn out my references"
  • "I will give you my references when we get to the offer stage"
  • "Why should I give you my references, you don't even have an opportunity for me yet?"

In either scenario, the recruiter can use the following script.

“Mr. candidate, studies show that 70% of hires happen via networking, often in which an actual job doesn’t even exist. The reason I want your references now is because we use those references to bring your story to life when we market you to our clients. Employers want to know how you have solved the same or similar problems that they face and the most effective way to share those stories is for to share with our clients what your references have to say about the problems you have solved for them and the solutions you have delivered."

Another way to script it may sound something like this:

“Mr. Candidate, I can understand and appreciate your concern regarding your references. Here is why I’m asking for the reference, though. There is a little unknown fact about the labor market which is that most people get hired for jobs that don’t exist. Especially in today’s world, where the market is so hot. The most common way that people get new jobs or consulting opportunities is through personal connections and networking. We are no different. We have relationships with some of the most prestigious employers in the area. Even though they don’t have a specific job posting for you today, we will still be calling them to market you. These employers still have projects that they need to complete, and they need help completing them. The most effective and compelling way to market you is for us to be able to share stories with our clients about what your past employers tell us about you in your reference. Think of the reference as your own personal endorsement or testimonial. The reference makes it that much more impactful. So if you allow me to contact your past 3 managers to conduct a reference so we can share your value with potential employers, that would be great.  How do you feel about sharing your references with me now?"

Another Massive Source for Sales Leads-Candidates You've Already Placed
Your consultants currently on billing and the candidates you have placed in permanent positions are getting bombarded with recruiting calls and opportunities every day. Keep in touch with them on a weekly basis and be sure to ask them and do the following:

  • What new opportunities were presented to you this week?
  • Get the details of the project, scope of work, name of client company and hiring manager where possible.
  • Get the name of the competitors who are calling your consultants.

Offer your consultants an incentive for passing you sales leads. For example, you may want to tell your candidates that for every HOT sales lead they pass to you, you give them something in return. And for every lead that converts into a client, you will give them “X.” You can learn more about our methodology and training approach here but how are you going about generating sales leads? What are your best practices? What do you find most challenging about generating sales leads from candidates? Let's start a conversation in the comments section below.

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About Dan Fisher

Dan Fisher is founder and owner of Menemsha Group, a provider of sales enablement solutions dedicated to helping IT staffing firms improve win rates, shorten their sales cycle, and increase revenue per sales rep. Since launching Menemsha Group in 2008, Dan has consulted with over 200 IT staffing firms and has invested over 5000 hours coaching IT staffing sales reps. He’s authored is his own proprietary sales methodology and has previously spoken at Staffing World, TechServe Alliance and Bullhorn Live 2012. Prior to launching Menemsha Group, Dan spent 16 years in the IT industry running local, regional and national sales teams. Dan worked for Kelly Services, Oracle Corporation and Alliance Consulting. Dan currently resides in Boston, Ma.

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