Season 5 | Episode 15

Pumping Candidates for sales leads: Sleezy, or savvy?

Steve sat down with Hanna from recruiting and Izabela from sales to talk about a pressing issue in the industry: is it okay to ask candidates for sales leads? Hanna and Izabela think it’s a poor way to generate sales, while Steve says it’s where he’s got some of his best leads. So what gives?

Let’s dig into the discussion a little further.

Pumping Candidate’s for Referrals…Great Source for Leads or Sleezy Salesmanship?

Steve opened up the discussion by asking Hanna to discuss her experience with this practice. She discussed how at her last two employers (both contingency recruiters), every recruiter expected to find a lead every day.

“They expected us to do that by saying, “you’re having conversations with candidates, you should be asking them where else they’re interviewing and digging deep with them to find out information that our sales team can then take to market”…I also was getting messages from candidates on LinkedIn from candidates that were like “hey, is it a thing where recruiters will call you up and just try to pump you for leads?” and I said “yeah, that is a thing! I’ve noticed it.”

Where Do Healthy Leads Come From?

To clarify, we’re talking about leads for business development purposes. Steve then asked Izabela for her perspective and experience with the issue.

“It creates the tension between salespeople and recruiters. You’re a successful business person Steve, you know where the healthy leads are coming from right? They come from marketing, they come from all the content we are putting out into the world informing people about the services and products we are selling. They don’t come from recruiters. It’s going to create a vicious cycle. If a company is lacking marketing department – because of lack of money, or they just don’t see the value – they delegate that role to recruiters. It’s lazy, and a very easy thing to do, because they’re exposed to information – but are we talking about quality, or are we talking about quantity?”

It’s About the Amount of Time You Spend on the Issue

Now Steve’s had a very different experience with the issue. He immediately countered by noting that probably 99% of his personal business comes from conversations with candidates.

With that in mind, he asked Hanna and Izabela if he was one of these “slimy recruiters who’s pumping my candidates to get business out of them.”

Hanna was quick to answer the question.

“It depends on your approach…if you are spending time with potential candidates on the phone to understand them, their interests, and what they’re looking for, so you can potentially provide value to them in the future – then yeah, I think it’s okay to ask for something…what I see a lot out there is a lot of recruiters saying “hey, do you have this x, y, and z skill? No? Okay, well then who else are you interviewing for?”

“You’ve provided zero value to that person, why would you expect them to provide value to you in return? I think it’s just a little give and take.”

Are They Even Good Leads?

Izabela elaborated, noting that it’s okay to have leads here and there based on conversation, but recruiters should not be pressured to deliver leads every day or every week. It changes the priorities of a recruiter.

Everyone was in agreement – there’s nothing wrong with getting leads if they come up naturally, especially if you’ve already spent a lot of time with a candidate. However, pushing too hard to get leads from candidates only results in poor leads and frustrates candidates.

Steve summarized their thoughts well: it’s not a problem when recruiters get leads from candidates. It is a problem when recruiters take advantage of candidates and talk to them only to get leads.

Hanna concurred.

“I see the value there, and when I was in sales, the best clients came from referrals. I think that is good, I just think the approach or the method that recruiters currently use to get those leads is right.”

And often, we get the metric that we measure – measuring leads means we’ll get a lot of leads, with majority of them being poor. Instead, we should be tracking the amount of quality conversions. Steve believes this whole mess is one of the signs that something is wrong with contingency recruiting.

Clearly, Candidate Experience Is Suffering

Unfortunately, you can find all sorts of complaints about this issue online – and if you ask candidates about their experience with this trend, you’ll likely hear similar frustrations.

Hanna brought up that this issue is definitely more common with contingency recruiting. She said that she felt like account managers and salespeople are often a little lazy at contingency firms, since they rely on recruiters to generate leads. She said she knew a contingency firm wasn’t for her when an account manager told her, “if you want better reqs, get better leads.”

Izabela also talked again about how she thinks marketing should be responsible for generating leads so recruiters can focus on recruiting:

“This usually happens when a company doesn’t have a strong marketing team, and then they just basically delegate all this to recruiters. And I truly believe…we live and work in 2019, this is not 1987! Sophisticated decision makers gather information from the internet about your business, so if you have a strong website, and social media appearance, different channels, that’s how you try and communicate and inform people about the business, not the recruiters. If someone wants to do business with you, they will find you and they will learn through the website.”

We Want to Hear Your Thoughts

Now we know not everyone will agree with the viewpoints in this episode, but we want to hear from you.

If you have thoughts or commentary on the issues of recruiting and generating sales leads in the industry, please drop us a comment on YouTube, social media or our site. We’re eager to hear from you!

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