So you want to try a new market? Part two

Published on

October 28, 2020

Written by

Alison Humphries


In my last blog, I began to outline what you need to do to maximise your chances of success when entering a new market.

Here is part two – you can get a refresher on part one here, or continue reading to for the final four points…

This is a guide only, please seek professional help when entering a new market.

4. Start building your network.

Good old LI is your friend here, but you need to put some work in to ensure your profile suits the new market. You don’t get traction by just wading through shallow waters, so do confine your networking to a certain type of role, or geography at first. This makes it easier to leverage referrals and 2nd level contacts.

Some businesses call this “market mapping”. Whatever you do, don’t try and go live on recruiting until you have a good network. You’ll be scrabbling around for an employer who has no commitment to you, starting without any candidate relationships, and you will be lucky not to damage your embryonic brand with poor – or no – delivery.

But what is a big enough “network”?

If you have absolutely no referrers into your new market, I have found it helpful to determine my recruiter patch by a score. It’s a blunt instrument but bear with me.

The patch score relates only to those hirers who you have personally spoken to and qualified.
100 = total hiring managers x total predicted need.

So, if your target market is in micro-businesses, you need 100 people who might use you when they have a need, in the next year, but their department size or need is just 1 per year.

If you are dealing with larger companies, they may have 50 people in their departments, and normal attrition is about 10%. They are likely to have 5 vacancies, so you need 20 of those.
Just to be clear, you are not going to fill 100 vacancies. Some will get filled internally, some by other recruiters.

You’ll need to market more widely, to replenish your patch score continuously. But that, realistically, is about as many as you can create a decent dialogue with and keep it going. As I said, it’s a blunt instrument.

5. Piggyback.

During this process, you need to build credibility. Do your research into their businesses and use their terminology.

Look at the profiles of other businesses who service the same client base as you want, but are not competitors. For example, a NED/business advisor like me would look at reputable R2Rs, CRM providers and lawyers who are present in the market, and they will do the same to me – check out my podcasts if you want to see the evidence.

You can use their networks to make yourself visible. Just don’t approach complete strangers on LI with jobs or candidates at this stage. You need to have built up a brand first.

6. Marketing.

I know some people who cling to the idea that they can hit the phones and spec candidates out like it was still the twentieth century. Well, all the evidence suggests that your potential clients are so bombarded by sales messages that they screen those out, except for the very few who have a specific requirement right this second, and no supplier relationship.

Here’s the thing. No-one wants to engage recruiters for their own sake, in the way that you want to buy an ice-cream because it’s pleasurable in itself. They use a recruiter because they find themselves in a situation that they know that recruiter has experience of resolving.
So, get your marketing to associate you with the key situations when someone would use you.

For example:

  • I need to hire but it’s confidential
  • I need to hire a contractor quickly
  • I don’t have any experience of hiring X type of staff
  • I know recruiters but their candidates keep letting me down

You get the idea.

Next, make sure your messages are consistent and targeted. You need regular touchpoints so that they remember you when that situation actually happens.

And make it really easy for them to contact you. “No obligation market appraisal”, “Free salary data”, “Guide to hiring staff in X” – these all work because people know what they are getting and it’s easy to say yes.

7. Your Sales Process.

Some markets definitely repay a really thorough recruitment process with psychometric evaluations, structured interviews etc. Others are CV driven. In much of the clinical healthcare market, for example, CV experience/training/qualifications are the driving factor in recruitment and you want to keep the process short and tight.

It is not that one market is “easier” than another. It is that you have to find the right delivery process to work it effectively and profitably. I’ve worked with recruiters who make excellent profits by submitting pre-qualified, compliant candidates at speed and volume via online portals.

And others who make fewer transactions, but similar profits through very “high-touch” approaches. Either way, you need to hire recruiters who want to do that, consistently. They are quite different people.

Once you know this, you can automate many of the processes you need.


If your current market is really screwed, you don’t owe it anything. Move on.

Few businesses can afford to “suck it and see” with a new market now. Vanishingly few. These points are the foundation upon which you can build out your offering, but please seek professional advice from someone who can help your business and unique situation. Because as you can see from the above, that the way you apply this will vary. And that really is central to how you will make a new market a success.

Alison Humphries is a NED and business advisor to the recruitment sector, with over 20 years of advisory experience and over 35 in the industry.

She has successfully guided recruitment businesses into new markets – not just once before, but dozens of times over. That includes building companies in many new markets, and new offerings such as S.O.W., with multimillion-pound profit in under 3 years.

To see how Alison can help, contact her HERE for a 30-minute free Discovery meeting worth £100.

Let’s see if we are right for each other.   

You can also contact her via LinkedIn where you can read some of her clients’ recommendations.

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