There’s no two ways about it –
Success in business is getting harder.
It’s not impossible, and many of the long-standing practices still remain, but everybody needs to look at what they are doing, work smarter and develop an edge to help them beat the competition. To stay one step ahead.
That’s one of the things we do at VG Charles & Co in terms of our own working practices, and also something we have to relay to our clients to help them also retain their own competitive advantage. Our clients trust us as business confidantes, acting as their eyes and ears on the ground:-
“A lot of firms are getting great success offering x sort of flexible working arrangement, have you considered that?” Or
“A number of your competitors offer something similar, but instead of the remuneration being calculated as ABC, they are using an XYZ model. You might want to consider doing the same if you want to keep attracting the best talent”.
And so on.
In order to keep your edge you need to look at and analyse where you are going wrong (and where you are going right!); what you can do to rectify your shortcomings; and how you can enhance where you are already being successful.
Which brings me to the case in point:- if you’re trying to compete in an already competitive market……why do it with one hand tied behind your back???
I had a very interesting conversation with a client earlier in the week; actually for correctness I’ll refer to them as a former client because we haven’t placed anyone there in the last 12 months, but someone who we have had a positive professional relationship with in the recent past.
Although we will do our utmost to speak to the key decision makers at all times, on occasion we are required to speak to someone further down the hierarchy. The conversation went something like this:-
VGC (our hero, cue much cheering and applause): I understand that you are seeking to recruit a talented real estate specialist with solid commercial development experience? I am presently working with someone of that nature who, in addition to those skills, is also able to bring a small following of housebuilder clients. This individual is only working with me and at this point has only asked me to speak to you and one other firm in the city. Does this sound like someone who might be worth considering? Would you like to see a CV?
Former Client (boo, hiss): That really does sound like it might be of interest and a great fit, but I’m afraid we now have a PSL in place and we can only accept CVs from them, so I’m afraid we will have to say no.
Now pause. Allow yourself to re-evaluate and analyse the above dialogue. Think about what has been said.
Actually, let me help you. To put it another way and paraphrasing slightly the conversation more or less went:-
VGC: You have a business need for a particular type of lawyer and I am presently representing that lawyer. Not only can I offer their legal skills, but the clients they bring will increase your turnover and make your whole firm richer. Would you like to see their details?
FC: No thank you. We would rather not have anyone sitting here, leaving the rest of the team to struggle to cover the workload and also having a lower turnover and lesser clients because your name isn’t on my list of special friends. Please go and make one of our competitors more successful instead.
Fortunately the partner in charge of the real estate team took a rather more…..‘commercial’ approach to my call (“get that CV over to me right away, I’ll see them this week if that works? I’m going to go and have a serious word with someone here.”) so the interview will be going ahead. My client doesn’t miss out, the candidate also gets the chance to meet the firm, their competitor doesn’t get the chance to gain an advantage on them, and everyone is happy. The Guardian of the PSL will probably keep their job for another week, but that’s a minor downside.
Clearly we have to consider a balanced approach to things, and understand that firms will have recruiters with whom they have agreed terms and who have similarly agreed to follow that particular firm’s procedures. And that all makes sense; we understand that you don’t want some cowboy organisation you’ve never heard of emailing a CV through and demanding a fee. But similarly, if your firm is turning away genuine applications from genuine recruiters who will make you richer/more profitable/more successful/better-looking*, then frankly you are giving that edge to your competitors, the ones that are more willing to have a conversation on a case-by-case basis.
And believe me, they are going to snap our hands off.
Let’s see how your PSL stands up to scrutiny then. I wouldn’t want to be in THAT meeting.
*not strictly true, but we’re sure you’re stunning already.