Navigating business development in the modern recruitment landscape

Navigating business development in the modern recruitment landscape

Amidst the ebbs and flows of market dynamics, continuous technological advancements, and shifting talent demands, the recruitment industry is constantly changing. As the landscape evolves, recruitment agencies must keep up – or better yet, stay ahead of the curve. How can agencies make sure their business development strategies are suited to the current moment?

In a recent webinar, Bullhorn’s Laura Bumby was joined by industry experts Michelle Jones of RBW Consulting and Oliver Perry of Trust in SODA to discuss the strategies and tools agencies need to optimise their business development and thrive. Read on for a recap of their conversation, or watch a recording here.

Shifting supply and demand

Recruitment agencies must adapt, not just react, to changing supply and demand. By proactively responding and developing new strategies to address the evolving market, agencies can set themselves up for long-term success, regardless of market conditions.

“Less people hiring doesn’t necessarily mean cheaper service,” Perry said. “The problem shifts to finding the right talent, and there may be too much talent to sift through. That makes time the cost rather than just dollars or pounds. Just because supply and demand is not in your favor doesn’t mean there isn’t a solution to be had.

The power of strong relationships

In Bullhorn’s most recent GRID Industry Trends Report of over 2,000 recruitment professionals, winning new clients emerged as the top priority for agencies. “The focus has transitioned from candidate-driven to a more client-centric approach,” Bumby said. That focus needs to begin with building a strong relationship with your current clients.

To nurture these relationships, agencies should offer value by sharing insights, resources, or expertise without any immediate expectations for something in return. By consistently providing value, agencies can foster trust and reliability among partners and clients. 

Jones echoed the need for a client-focused mindset regardless of market conditions: “Maintaining relationships through nurturing and client-centricity has seen us through rockier times.”

Client satisfaction and feedback

Communication with clients should go both ways. To make sure you’re providing clients with top-level service – and find areas in which to improve – our panelists have seen success using Net Promoter Scores (NPS).

“NPS provides invaluable data that allows us to enhance client experiences,” said Jones. By leveraging feedback gathered through NPS scores, RBW Consulting was able to quantify and improve client service, shaping their ongoing strategies to meet and exceed customer expectations.

Perry’s team also leans on NPS scores for both candidates and clients. “For about two years, we’ve done NPS scoring, and there is obvious value to us and the customer,” he said. “We used to send NPS to everyone we had placed, but we recently brought it earlier in the recruitment cycle during the first stage interview. It feeds data that is more beneficial to the client and helps us improve the candidate experience.”

Brand differentiation

In a market where many agencies vie for the same clients, differentiation is key. Agencies need to determine how they stand apart from competitors beyond successful placements. Perry noted that emphasising the value of a candidate community can be a key differentiator, as can becoming B Corp certified.

The relationships between marketing and sales also play a critical role in business development, Bumby added. “Your marketing teams and your sales teams should be talking to each other. Your sales team should know what the marketing efforts are, and the marketing team should be getting feedback from your sales teams on what you know they’re hearing from clients.”

Automation and nurturing

When nurturing and building candidate relationships, agencies should look to magnify their efforts through automation. Even the smallest automations can make a significant impact on both your client relationships and your bottom line. 

Jones emphasised the importance of clean data as the foundation for effective automation. Precise automations require organised, segmented databases in order to reach their target audience.

Automation doesn’t just help build relationships; it can be a useful tool for building strategy. Jones noted that leveraging automation for post-placement feedback requests and hot lists for mailers can help agencies understand their engagement levels and shape their strategy in response.

Winning new business in the current landscape doesn’t require agencies to work harder – just smarter. With the right mix of technology, team values, and strong relationships, recruitment agencies can deliver exceptional value to their clients and candidates, continuously improve, and form long-lasting business relationships.

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