This question just in from Lee McQueen of Raw Talent Academy (LinkedIn limits the characters you can use in your response so am replying in a post!)…

What are your thoughts regarding the structure of recruitment teams, 180° or 360°? Does it play to individual strengths? Or does it divide without necessarily conquering? What do you think?

Great question Lee McQueen and I think really poignant in today’s environment.

Conceptually the 360 model makes good sense and I see it working well in a number of places, but it will always have its flaws…

1. The best excuse not to sell

I see many recruitment leaders struggling to effectively performance manage 360 consultants when it comes to sales KPIs and metrics and when a consultant has the perfectly reasonable excuse that they are too busy filling jobs and sourcing candidates to be selling, what can you do?

What we end up often seeing is a selling blitz or similar just to hit sales KPIs without any real focus on the quality and the outputs. A totally inefficient and ineffective way to drive sales performance which brings me on to my next point…

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2. Inadequate selling activity

Selling is both an art and a science. It needs a strategic approach with tactical implementation. It needs focus, attention, nurturing and commitment. Selling is a full-time job and not something that can be done, when you can find the time.

If you have a very clearly defined strategic sales plan in place that is being implemented, measured and improved every day, then fine. If you have a calculated account penetration programme in place, assessing your existing customer relationships and pinpointing opportunities for further maximising client lifetime value, that’s great. If you have a market segmentation strategy that is aligned directly to your social marketing activities, then you’re ahead of the game.

But many recruitment businesses don’t.

3. The wrong focus

Whilst I am all about selling, I love it and think that everyone in a business, consultant to owner to receptionist to marketing should all being playing an active part in driving sales, there is always a question mark around how much business is enough…

Any recruitment business that is reporting solid levels of conversion ratios, from jobs to interviews / placements in my mind, demonstrates that the business is good at the core component of what we do, i.e. recruiting.

However, where businesses are struggling to maintain high conversions, exacerbated in some cases by talent shortages across certain markets, then selling more of the same is not necessarily going to drive increased profitability – the top of the funnel might start filling up but ultimately it is what comes out of the bottom that matters.

Letting recruiters focus on just that, recruiting, allows them to become more specialised, better networked, reduce the turnaround times (and therefore costs) of placement and ultimately improve rates of conversion.

4. Needles in haystacks

Consider that last year alone, over 800 new recruitment companies were set up on average every month. Add into that the targeted headcount growth of existing recruitment businesses and we see a widening trend of consultant jobs to available talent to work in those jobs.

There are very few recruitment companies who find it easy to attract good recruiters to their business, not for any fault of their own, but simply because there aren’t that many floating about (the good ones are either locked in or going it alone – because if you can sell and recruit, aka 360, then why wouldn’t you?).

It is a reality that we have to face and whilst we spend a huge amount of time and effort trying to attract the perfect 360 consultant to our businesses, it can often prove a lot easier (not easy, but easier!) to recruit a pure out and out specialist recruiter or a pure salesperson and not a blend of the two.

There are so many really great recruiters out there, who either don’t like selling, don’t want to sell and / or are frustrated by being targeted on sales KPIs when actually they would be better off fed new business opportunities and then left alone to just get on and recruit using advanced sourcing strategies, spending more time building deeper talent networks and nurturing proper relationships with candidates, all of which takes time…

… oh, and by the way, when that happens, they often pick up a whole bunch of new business leads on the way, customers tend to stay longer, spend more and refer them to others!

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