How to Make Every Communication Count and Yield Positive Results
Every one of us is bombarded each day with more communication than ever. There are non-stop emails, InMails, phone calls and voicemails, and the backlog, if we don’t stay current with them. That’s true for us, and it’s also true for the clients and candidates we work with.
When only a tiny fraction of our communications are returned, it becomes critical for us to determine how to cut through the ‘noise.’ But cut through it we must, because in the staffing business, we are constantly reaching out to clients and consultants. And actually connecting and engaging with them, especially those hard-to-find candidates that we want to win over, is essential to fulfilling client requirements.
When it comes to those low response rates, Barb Bruno, owner of Good as Gold Training, believes that too many people blame the method. They text instead of making a phone call, because it’s faster and easier; and besides, nobody wants to talk on the phone anymore. But is that really the case? Not, according to Bruno. “When people don’t return our calls, or emails, that’s what we do,” Bruno says. “We just say that people aren’t responsible, or that they ghosted us, rather than asking what we can do differently. If it’s not working, what can I change?”
Below are some tips and strategies to keep in mind while talking or writing to others to make every interaction count.
Eliminate Your Barriers
To communicate more effectively, Bruno says, the first thing we must do is make sure we’re ready to properly communicate. In particular, to truly listen. There’s a difference between just listening to the words a person is saying and really hearing what they’re saying. “Actively listening shows that you respect the other person, and that you view what they say as important and worthwhile.”
To really ‘tune in’ to the person you’re communicating with, for instance when you talking to a candidate, Bruno lists the five key barriers that must be eliminated:
- »Haste. Don’t ‘pitch’ too fast; instead, first seek to understand what’s most important to each candidate you speak with.
- »Interrupting. When a candidate is speaking with you, focus in and listen to what they’re saying.
- »Distracted Attention. Multitasking is a myth; you can’t communicate with one person while also checking your emails or checking social media
- »Selective hearing. It’s tempting to hear what we want to hear. Instead, hear what the person is actually saying and keep notes.
- »External distractions. Minimize the chance you’ll be interrupted by anything outside your control.
Professional distractions like emails and phone calls can be particularly difficult to eliminate, or even minimize. One simple step in doing so, Bruno notes, is setting time aside through the day to check incoming emails, rather than reading them as they arrive. Bruno recommends checking email once in the morning, once mid-day, and once in the late afternoon, reserving the rest of the day’s schedule for your priorities.
WWD vs. WIIFM
The problem with much of the attempted communication in the staffing industry, in Bruno’s view, is that it focuses too much on WWD: ‘What We Do.’ Instead, effective communication should answer the candidate’s WIIFM: ‘What’s in it For Me?’
When you begin a message or a conversation by talking about what you do, Bruno says, it sends the message that you’re a salesperson and that you want to sell the person something: a job, in the case of a recruiter speaking with a candidate.
Framing the conversation in such a way as to show the other person the value of speaking with you – what you can do for them – shows them that you have their best interests at heart. And that, Bruno believes, is the kind of first impression that can lead to a lasting relationship as a ‘Lifetime Career Agent’; one in which candidates come back to a recruiter they trust when they’re ready to make another change. There’s only one way to do that: to build a rapport, because rapport leads to trust.
All of this is true regardless of the method of communication, Bruno asserts. She also has some specific tips for improving your results using emails and InMails, voicemails, and phone calls with candidates.
Emails and InMails That Get Replies
In the case of emails, one reason for a low response rate is that many aren’t even opened – as many as 82%, according to LinkedIn. Why? Because the sender’s name and the subject line are not personalized, giving the impression of a generic sales pitch.
Just replacing a corporate sender name with your own name can result in a significant improvement in your email open rate. Personalizing the subject line for each email – for example, removing ‘Fwd’ or ‘Re’ – is also a simple step. Bruno also recommends searching Google for email subject lines with a high open-rate, modeling yours on those, and keeping them to between 6 and 10 words.
As far as the content of an email or InMail is concerned, the key once again is to focus more on ‘WIIFM’ than ‘WWD.’ You can do this by demonstrating your track record in the message, sharing how you’ve helped other people:
- »In the past (timeframe) I have helped (# of candidates) individuals with similar experience to yours, advance in their career. Please let me know when it would be most convenient for us to discuss your career advancement.
Another successful approach is to create curiosity, and show that the message is specifically meant for the recipient:
- » Recently, someone I interviewed gave me your name, which is why I’m reaching out. When would it be best for us to talk about what you see as your next logical career move?
Naturally, some of the people you reach this way will ask who referred them. In these cases, Bruno says, it’s important not to lie. You should be asking for referrals anyway, so simply say so. “I ask everyone I meet who the best [x] is that they know. Someone said that was you.”
Voicemails That Get Returned
There’s no truth to the perception that nobody will return a voicemail, Bruno insists. If the voicemail is compelling enough and sends the right message, the recipient will call back. While she acknowledges that there’s no ‘perfect’ voicemail, she shares her pointers for an effective framework: what to say, and why it works.
- »“My name is (name) and my number is (phone number), someone suggested we talk.”
- ○You’ve introduced yourself and created curiosity: the recipient is now wondering who might have passed on their name.
- »“When you call me back, please tell whoever answers the phone to interrupt me no matter what I’m doing so I don’t miss your call.”
- ○Here, you’ve made the recipient feel like they’re an important person for you, indicating that the conversation will be an important one.
- »“I look forward to our conversation. Again, my number is (phone number). Have a great day, Thanks!”
- ○You’ve shown sincere interest in speaking with them, and you don’t sound like a salesperson.
Calls That Get Results
When you do reach a candidate on the phone – either by chance during the day, or at a prearranged time after hours, it’s especially important to make the most of the time you have with them. To do this well, Bruno says that it’s once again all about building trust by making it clear that you have their best interests at heart.
Begin by demonstrating that you’re an expert in their profession; that this isn’t a generic ‘cookie cutter’ call. Share your track record of success with them; show them how you’ve helped other people just like them. Aim to develop a more personal rapport with them: get their personal email and cellphone number, connect with them on social media, join LinkedIn groups they’re part of.
Finally, and most importantly, set up a time for a more detailed interview. It’s in that meeting – not in a brief phone conversation – where you will get to know more details about their skills and experiences, and what’s most important to them, before presenting an opportunity to them. That’s how you build trust.
When They Say No
It’s inevitable that in many conversations with candidates, the end result will be that they’re not interested in the specific role you had in mind for them. That’s not the end of the relationship, though; it may be just the beginning of one that lasts throughout a career.
You can build trust by demonstrating to the candidate that you’d still like to get to know them, in order to keep them in mind for future opportunities. If the candidate is still overly focused on the fact that they don’t want to make a change right away, one question Bruno recommends asking is, “Do you plan to retire from your current position?”
Naturally, you can also use this as an opportunity to build your network with referrals. To do so, Bruno suggests asking who the best ‘x’ was from their last place of employment (where ‘x’ is a role you regularly recruit for).
“Imagine if 40% of the people you place came to you through a referral,” Bruno says. “Everybody you’ve ever recruited, everyone you’ve placed – they’re either your army of recruiters, or they’re being recruited by your competitors.”
Want to know more?
Bruno quotes Maya Angelou’s famous words: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Improving your verbal and written communication skills will lead to stronger relationships. Those relationships will, in turn, lead to greater business success.
There were additional scripts for emails and phone calls, and a lot more discussion – including a very lively Q&A session – during the webinar. If you missed it live, you don’t want to miss the recording! Click here to view the full presentation.