I just can’t work for you

This week we were asked one of the toughest decisions around business development. How do you let a potential client know you won’t be doing business with them?

 

The scenario looks like this:

 

You’ve spent months getting a potential client on the phone. You finally are discussing with them their pain points and what they need to fill an open position in their department. And what they need isn’t realistic. Or you’re uncomfortable with their approach. Or you simply don’t like them… Now what?

 

Recruiters deal with a lot of rejection. We may not like it, but we can handle it. At the same time, you may feel reluctant to reject someone else. Ultimately, while you may not want to work with them for any number of reasons, you also don’t want to call their baby ugly.

 

You may be surprised to learn that Tricia and I rarely reject business that way. We far prefer to price ourselves out of contention.

 

Imagine you have courted a client, only to learn the job they want to fill is in the most rural area imaginable. They’d like the person to earn on the low side, say $60K, when most people doing the same work in other areas earn ten or twenty thousand more. And though they may have to relocate someone, they believe the lower pay will go much farther in this environment.

 

Ideally, that position would be an $80K position earning you a $20K+ fee, but they made it much harder. Even a 25% fee would yield you thousands less for harder work.

 

Instead of saying “no” or “pound sand” you can simply price the work at $25,000-$30,000. They either say no, and do the rejecting for you, or say yes.

 

If they say yes, you are doing the work for nearly double the expected fee, which may turn your own “no” into a “yes.” Just make sure the number you give them is the amount that makes the deal acceptable to you. While they will almost certainly turn you down, you have to be covered if they say yes.

 

It gets better. This type of rejection, by pricing yourself out, almost always makes the potential client view you as a provider of choice they simply couldn’t afford. That’s a much better way to leave the relationship than by being the jerk recruiter who wouldn’t work with them.

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