I’m walking away from a long-standing client today… and I feel great!

I’m having a particular struggle at the moment with a client who I have worked with for many years, and who wants to reduce my rates by a very significant amount. Now don’t get me wrong, I like a good negotiation as much as the next man, and I’m always prepared to dance, but there has to be some communication involved so both sides understand each other’s position.

If no-one’s talking then no-one knows what’s important to the other side, and therefore how to compromise their own position in order to reach a conclusion that makes both sides happy.

Now of course, I could just accept the ultimatum and wind my neck in and keep going. Maybe I should be grateful for the work; grateful for the ‘opportunity’ to work with a strong brand in the market? What if someone else fills the void and becomes their new best supplier? What if they suddenly go through a recruitment drive and I miss out on all the new briefs? Surely some money is better than no money, right?…

…wrong! If you don’t value and respect your own worth, credibility, integrity and reputation in your chosen market, then no one else will. I know the effort that goes into finding the perfect candidate for a tricky brief; the effort that goes into preparing a candidate for a senior panel interview or presentation; the effort that goes into negotiating an offer so that both sides feel like they’ve got a win; the value in being able to articulate what a client really wants and how to search the market in order to put the best talent in front of them quickly and professionally.

All that comes with a price tag. That price tag can vary of course dependant on circumstances, but there is always a walkaway point. The world will not end if I don’t work that client. In fact, my world will get a whole lot better as I’ll be able to fill the vacuum with another client that is willing to talk about my value to them and is prepared to pay accordingly for a quality service.

And far too many people forget that they are offering a quality service. If you push someone too far financially they you may still get them to sign on the dotted line, but you will lose their respect and therefore their best efforts. And that’s a very dangerous position to be in, because then no-one wins. If you make someone only see their relationship with you in financial terms, then that’s how they will prioritise the work you give them.

If I have a great candidate and I am talking to them about my clients, which one do you think I will be most excited about showing them; the role with a client who pays the bare minimum and won’t engage with me, or the one who I know well, pays a fair rate, and treats me like a key part of their recruitment strategy?

Recruitment is not something that can be done in half-measures. It takes blood, sweat and tears to get a process over the line. Research, understanding, searching, pitching, interview prepping, feedback, negotiating, rearranging, commiserating, congratulating, empathising, challenging.

Every. Single. Day.

The money is the very last thing to happen – and that only happens if the project is a success. For me, it’s the medal at the end of a long race.

So, for any values and relationship driven clients out there, who want a long-term recruitment partner who will fill that key void in your team, represent your brand in the right way out in the market and who will move heaven and earth to find that missing piece to your puzzle: let’s talk.

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