What BD Winners do differently…

Published on

September 7, 2023

Written by

Alison Humphries


If you are going to succeed in changed market conditions, you really need to review your sales technique.

I’ve been listening to recruiters in multiple different sectors, and I keep hearing them repeat self-defeating phrases. Here are 3 phrases you should remove from your tool kit without delay.

  • Upon introducing yourself to a prospective client: “I’ve been in recruitment for seven years. I sort of fell into it, really…”
  • On taking a brief for a new role, starting with: “Tell me exactly what you’re looking for”.
  • On handling an objection about your fees, attempting to justify them like this: “We advertise the job, screen the CVs, qualify the candidates…”


If you don’t know what’s wrong with these lines, read on…because the chances are your team is repeating them as well.

If you don’t think about it consciously then these responses tend to just be on the tip of many recruiter’s tongues because they’ve heard them in use.


The first reason you need to avoid these responses is that you sound exactly like the many recruiters who aren’t that sharp. You’ve missed a brilliant opportunity to differentiate yourself NOT by saying, but by doing.

The second reason – introducing yourself to a prospective client is a one-off opportunity. If you can describe who you work with (types of organisation, even names of organisations), how you benefit them, and then how you do it, you’ll stand out to the people you want to attract. Who would trust a recruiter with so little direction, career goals or clarity that they would “just fall into” a job? Would you trust your career/key hire to this kind of person?

The third reason: A client who has a potential brief for you will respond to this by describing their ideal candidate. That leaves you with an inflexible specification and no room to advise or suggest. Start instead by asking “Why has the vacancy arisen? What have you done so far?” and “What is the business reason for the role?” Now you know what the client is trying to achieve. If you know your onions, you can flex that spec and be much more creative about solutions.

The fourth reason? If you add up the actual number of working hours that a consultant spends carrying out those processes on a specific single role, it’s going to come in at about 20 hours. If your typical fee is, say £10,000, you are asking for £500 per hour. That’s a pretty tall order.


What your client is paying for is the value that (you and) the successful hire will add to the organisation. If it’s a VP of Sales, what sales will they generate? If it’s a waiter, what will their takings be? Or what will they lose if they don’t hire?

Think about it. Many of us are changing the ways we deliver services via automation, AI and offshoring. But have we changed what we say?


If you’re a recruitment business leader and you’d like to review your business in a holistic way, change behaviours through integrated training or lead your business to success through executive coaching, get in touch with Alison…

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