No matter the size of your agency or your role in recruitment, sourcing new clients to grow your business is always going to be high on your priority list. Whilst the ultimate goal is to establish an agency so successful that new leads come to you, it takes a lot of skill, planning and hard work to get to this stage.
There is much more to business development than just making calls and hoping for the best; it takes time, strategic thinking and commitment to playing the long game in some instances.
If approached in this way, you can create systems and processes that drive a steady, sustainable and predictable flow of new leads for your business which only leave you with the task of converting them and delivering great results once you do!
If you’ve been looking for business development ideas to help your recruitment agency grow, then look no further. Here are some areas we have seen work extremely successfully in the industry.
Who better to help promote your business than existing clients who already love what you do?
You probably have clients who are big fans of you and your work, but unless you prompt them to share the word most people are too busy dealing with their own worries to shout about your qualities.
A great way to change this is to give existing clients a good reason to share the word. Identify what is valuable to them and offer it as an incentive for them to refer other clients to you.
This might be a cash incentive, discounted future work or even something more personal. If you know they are a football fan you could buy them a ticket for a match or if they love travel buy them a weekend away.
If you tell clients that already love you that you’re going to give them these benefits if they refer new business your way then they’re much more likely to spread the word.
Quality Over Quantity
The idea that you just need to contact a certain amount of people before one converts is flawed in many ways.
Firstly, it’s not very efficient. If you consistently spend lots of time contacting people who have no interest in working with you then that time is being consistently wasted.
It might seem like an obvious message to bear in mind, but you’d be surprised at how many agencies focus on simply hitting targets instead of building beneficial relationships or systems that focus on the right targets.
If you’re making hundreds of prospecting calls every month in the hope that one of them might turn into a lead your chances of success are limited and, even worse, you might start to gain a negative reputation. A high volume of calls should not be the KPI that your agency is pursuing unless it’s based on some pretty solid data and you’re not concerned about potential reputation risk.
Instead, find ways to connect with the right people and when you do spend time researching their business in more depth so when you do contact them it is more impactful and you can stand out from the crowd.
Do things this way and you’re much more likely to get a higher conversion rate and spend your time in the right places.
Explore SEO Options
If you haven’t already incorporated search engine optimisation into your business development plan you should definitely consider it as one of the best ways to increase leads by driving more organic traffic to your website.
SEO activity improves the ranking of your website on search engines by increasing links to and from the site, regularly adding new content and incorporating keyword phrases that your target audience is searching for.
It is possible to teach yourself the basics of SEO and implement it in your business plan, or there are many firms out there who offer different SEO services and even specialist SEO for recruitment agencies (hint hint!). The work they do for your business may include technical optimisation, press coverage that leads to links to your website, or implementing a content strategy that helps you get found by more of the people who can become clients.
The beauty of SEO is that as you develop your visibility, generating leads becomes passive and consistent. It also means that you are getting found through people actively searching for your service. This is opposed to people on social media or who get cold-called/emailed that you are interrupting where you are trying to convince them that they need your service.
SEO is also a cumulative process, so as you develop it over time you only get stronger and more effective. You rank higher and higher, and for more and more phrases. This means you only ever continue to grow the volume of targeted leads who are contacting you each month.
There is a huge opportunity in the recruitment industry to benefit from this, as we have found with all clients we work with where we’ve managed to make huge strides forward in a short amount of time. This had led to them getting a return on investment within a few months and that ROI only continues to grow from there.
Share Your Successes
A great pitch to a potential client is only as good as the evidence that supports it, which is why a key strategy in business development is to lead with your success stories. Instead of just a general introduction to your agency, present a prospect with a clear outline of how you have helped other companies recruit talented candidates then they’ll be more inclined to let you do the same work for them.
As well as incorporating examples of your work into your sales pitch, sharing evidence of your success on your website and social media will give your agency more credibility. It lets any potential clients who have found you online know that you are an agency that delivers results, and also creates more content that can be shared on social media platforms or optimised for SEO to drive more traffic to your site.
When you’re compiling data to use as evidence for your success, one of the best things you can do is collect direct testimonials from other clients. These provide a very credible example of what your agency can do and are ideal for sharing online as short pieces of marketing material.
Build an Expert Reputation
Investing in PR work to drive leads is a strategy that recruitment agencies often don’t often consider, but is one that can be incredibly effective. A PR strategy that improves your standing as an expert in the recruitment industry or within your sector is a key way in which you can boost your agency’s reach and generate new leads, and hiring a PR expert is one of the best ways to do this.
Companies looking to partner with a recruitment agency are more likely to go to those who are known as experts within the industry and have a reputation for finding the best candidates for their client’s roles.
PR work that helps you establish this reputation could take on a number of forms, but will focus on sharing your agency’s content or stories through press releases and getting coverage from well-known industry publications or national news websites.
New clients might find you through this coverage, or it might just prove as a fantastic conversion tool when they see on your website that you’ve been featured on a variety of top media. Who doesn’t trust someone who’s been in the Guardian, right?!
Utilise Social Media
Social media platforms are a great way to grow your visibility and establish a trusted following that brings many benefits.
This might be a tribe of people who share your content regularly and get you under the noses of potential clients. Or it might be using remarketing to target people who have already been on your website to further engage with them.
LinkedIn is obviously a core part of most recruitment agencies’ strategy but being more strategic in how you use that and other platforms can result in a much better return on the time you’re spending.
Our advice is to focus on key platforms and do them really well, rather than trying to manage profiles everywhere and spreading yourself too thin.
We also advise on using different platforms for different purposes. LinkedIn might be a key place to grow a following and shout about your qualities for new business purposes, Instagram could be for showing off your culture internally and Twitter could be for engaging with influencers. Whichever route you take, be sure to consider what your goals are on each beforehand.
Finally, social media is not just about your company account. Get your staff engaged and active on their personal profiles to further grow your reach on these platforms, whether that be sharing their general experience at work or sharing content you’re producing and success stories from within the business.
Pay Per Click Advertising
If you’re looking for an immediate impact in the market the Pay Per Click is a good way of doing that.
The challenge with PPC is ensuring you don’t waste your money on irrelevant people clicking your adverts. However, if you create a good campaign then it can be a very effective way of getting found by more clients in the short term.
This isn’t a great way to find candidates as it will likely become too costly with the volume of clicks you would get, so make sure you research very carefully which phrases you bid on to avoid haemorrhaging budget.
We generally recommend PPC as a short term fix whilst you develop your SEO visibility, where you can reduce budget over time as more and more leads start to come in from organic search.
Who better to target with your business development activity than people who already know about you?
Rather than constantly contacting new people who have never heard of you, finding new ways of appearing in front of an already warm audience is much more likely to breed success.
Remarketing is using advertising on places like Facebook, Instagram or Google to appear in front of people who have already visited your website. This means they already know who you are and have found your site for some reason, most likely by looking for your services or the general topic that you cover.
Adverts that display to these people can re-emphasise the strengths of your business and why people should work with you, or it could promote the content you’ve produced that drives people onto your email list.
Whatever the goal, the key is that you’re enabling yourself to be found by people who are already aware of you and in a place where you can tailor the message you want to communicate.
That’s extremely powerful.
Email Marketing and Automation
Email marketing is a fantastic way to engage with an audience over a longer period so that you don’t rely on them signing up to your services on their first visit.
Often people will do their research at a point when they’re not ready to buy. So you need to offer them something which enables you to stay in touch with them and show off your value up until the point they are ready to buy.
Email marketing allows you to do this, and you can do it in an automated way. Create something useful that your audience would really want and ask them for their email address in return for downloading it.
You can then set up an automated string of emails which goes to those people once/week or once/month or however often you wish so that they become more familiar with your brand.
You can then share a more sales orientated message, but often that’s not necessary – when the lead is ready they’ll get in touch with you. Or you can monitor the people who regularly engage with your emails and trigger a message for your sales to get in touch with those that appear most engaged and ready to buy.
In a similar vein to PR, podcasting is a great way of establishing yourself as a thought leader in the industry you’re in and gaining trust from potential clients when they are considering whether to use you or a competitor.
It’s also a great way to get your name out there in the first place. If you interview prominent people in your industry then it is likely they will share that content with their following and help you get found by more people.
If you carefully select guests to match the profile of your target market then the chances of new leads coming from there are extremely high.
Whether it is broadening your reach in the market or creating a tool that helps convert people once they find you, podcasting is a valuable approach. You can read about some of the best recruitment podcasts out there at the moment on our blog here.
Successful business development should always start with a long term plan and building systems that gain momentum over time. It’s important to celebrate what you achieve along the way, but you should also always keep your next step in mind and how you can maximise the value of each tactic you are using down the line.
It shouldn’t just be a checklist that you work through and forget about once you have reached a target; it’s an ongoing process that should influence everything you do to grow your agency. From marketing to personal research, invest the time to ensure that every action you take sets you up as an agency that knows the market, cares about their clients, and goes above and beyond to get the job done.
If you do that, you will create a flywheel which consistently gains momentum and makes the business development process easier and easier as time progresses.