I love December for a number of reasons. Socialising and eating are two big ones! But at a work level, the main reason is that it feels OK to be taking it easier because I know my competitors are also doing the same.
Unfortunately, like many other things that I enjoy during December (mince pies, stollen bread et al) I know this will have consequences in January. Whilst a few weeks at the gym can fix my fitness and weight issues, the impact it has on my sales pipeline takes longer to fix.
So, are you focused on winding down the year or winding up for January? Like it or not, the approach you take it will impact how successful you are in the first few months of 2018.
If you take the winding down approach, your focus is on closing the deals you already have on the go. This will involve chasing clients to interview quicker, making decisions faster to get everything closed for when everyone leaves on Christmas Eve. The result is you will likely have a good month! However, there may be a price to pay with an anaemic pipeline in January.
Now I am pretty certain Managers reading this post will be thinking “I am not letting anyone take their foot off the gas in December.” But – like it or not, proactive new business development gets harder and harder the closer you get towards Christmas. Unless you have explicitly outlined what else should be done, there will be a fair amount of procrastination going on.
So, what are the proactive business development activities you can do in December to build your pipeline for January and beyond?
1: Focus on Booking 1st Interviews
Rather than set yourself a goal of making placements in December, set yourself a goal of getting the processes going. When clients say, “let us start in January”. Explain that starting in January will mean offers in February or later, and they’ll be competing with the rush of other clients recruiting in January. Try to persuade them that starting the process now will help them get the best people. It is even easier for candidates to get to finish early or start late in December – whereas they may struggle to attend interviews during the January rush.
Action: Set yourself a goal for a number of first interviews conducted in December and start January with a full pipeline.
2: Catch Up With Your Customers
New business development may be hard December, but it is a great opportunity to catch up with existing clients from the year. Just as you are winding down, many of your clients will be doing the same. So they are likely to be more open for a catch-up either on the phone or face to face. So what do speak about?
Say “THANK YOU” for the business this year.
If you have contractors on site, discuss assignment extensions for Q1. Ask how they feel the year has gone. What are their business’s plans are for the next 12 months? How might their team be impacted by those changes? Remember you are not looking to pick up vacancies for today, you are looking to understand where the opportunities will be in the next 12 months
3: Catch Up With Your Candidates
Despite all our best intentions, we sometimes leave candidate relationships hanging when we have nothing immediately to gain from keeping in touch. Sadly this is the case for both candidates who are unsuccessful when applying for a role, and candidates you place. December gives you a chance to catch your breath and catch up with a few different groups of candidates. (You could even confirm that they still want to be contacted by you through the year and help your GDPR compliance at the same time!)
Catch up with:
- Placed candidates: Find out what they like about their new opportunity, what successes they have had (note this is not a recruiting opportunity!).
- Active candidates, who you spoke to in the last few months: Find out what success they have had (new leads) or see if they are more flexible in what they are looking for. Start the call “I do not have anything specific to call, but wanted to check how your job search was going and see if what you are looking for has changed”. You will be amazed at what you get from these calls.
- Passive Candidates: You might think you can only call these when you have a role to discuss. The opposite is true. Call or email to find out what they want from their career next year. Open the call or email by saying “when we were last in touch you said you were not actively looking but wanted me to keep an eye out for , I just wanted to see how this might change next year”. Remember that this call is focused on being “the recruiter of choice” so that they’ll choose you if their situation changes.
4: Call Line Managers in Need
Whilst most of your market is likely to be slowing down, there will be sectors or departments where things are still running at maximum pace. For example, the Distribution sector, the NHS and Finance Departments (if they have a December year-end) are still busy. They are likely to have temporary or contract needs. All you need to do is call and say ,”I know you are busy at the moment, I just wanted to say that if you have a staffing issue over the festive period then we are staying open to help you.” Try it; You may be surprised the results you get!
5: Get Organised
When I ask recruiters how well they organise their targets and lead lists, I mostly hear responses like “I am too busy” or “I really must update those when I get a moment”. December is the chance you have been waiting for! Pipeline mastery is as much about your organisational ability as it is about your phone and email skills!
Here are the lists you want to have organised
- Lead List: Who is recruiting today or in the next 90 days.
- Clients to Expand: Who are the clients that I could get more business from in the next 6 months
- New Clients to Win: Who are the companies that you want to do business within the next 6 months.
Once you have these lists organised you can start to build a marketing plan around growing, retaining or expanding your client base.
More generally – we’d love to help you make your pipeline more productive in 2018 – Do check out Nurtureit.io to help all your bonus dreams come true !!
I hope this helps you to prepare a strong start for January. Enjoy the socialising and festive treats that make December one of the best months of the year. Make sure you do enough to start the year in great shape as well!
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