Your Customer Is Changing … and So Must You

Peter Weddle

The pandemic has made change the norm in business, so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that there is a new recruitment advertising customer. Job boards and other publishers have long been accustomed to interacting with a certain kind of HR or TA professional, and now, many are finding that they must deal with an entirely different person, one with a very different knowledge base and set of skills. That means sales reps will have to get to know that new gatekeeper, if business development is to progress.

Historically, publishers have sold their advertising services to seasoned HR and TA leaders and professionals. That wasn’t always the case, of course – especially in SMBs – but it was certainly true in most situations. And for that reason, job board sales reps could safely assume a certain level of knowledge when describing what they had to offer. They didn’t have to start at the beginning, but could take shortcuts when explaining their value proposition and still be certain that the customer would understand.

Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case. The pandemic and recession have caused many employers to replace those seasoned buyers with less experienced counterparts or even with those in HR who have no recruiting experience at all. As employers see it, taking such a step only makes good financial sense. After all, recruiting is down and costs need to be constrained … and besides, how hard can it be to post a job ad?

This turn of events is doubly perilous for online publishers. First, it’s easy to fall into the trap of seeing a change in buyers as simply the replacement of one relatively knowledgeable person with another who has similar expertise. That’s how it’s been for the past four or five years, but it’s not so today. And second, the inexperience of the new customer can lead to inaccurate or unrealistic expectations. They don’t know what recruitment advertising can and can’t do, and their lack of knowledge can lead to an unfair evaluation of a publisher’s performance.

The Education of a New Customer Who’s New to Recruiting

The challenge a publisher faces when educating a new customer is doing so without seeming pedantic. The wrong way is to offer the inexperienced or less knowledgeable person a canned webinar or training program. They are likely already self-conscious about their lack of expertise, so such an impersonal and mechanical approach will almost certainly heighten their unease and potentially cause a negative response.

The better approach is for sales reps to do the instruction in person. Not with a formal class, but with an expanded conversation. They can wrap the educational content in the sales call, itself. In other words, while the rep is explaining the site’s value proposition to the customer, they can include information and insights about the capabilities and benefits of recruitment advertising as a form of talent sourcing.

For example, a sales rep might say:

“You know, recruitment advertising is very scalable, so you can expand your ad placements whenever you need to. You can start small because you don’t have a lot of requirements right now, but then as the economy picks up, you can quickly increase your postings to whatever level you need.”

Or

“One of the advantages of recruitment advertising is that it can also be helpful with your employment branding. A well written job posting not only describes a great opportunity, it introduces your company as a great place to work.”

There are obviously a lot of other facets to recruitment advertising, so the key to effective sales in the pandemic is to make introducing them to those customers that could benefit from that knowledge an integral part of your value proposition as a publisher.

Food for Thought,
Peter

Peter Weddle is the author or editor of over two dozen books and a former columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He is also the founder and CEO of TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions. You can check out his latest books on Amazon or in the TAtech Bookstore.

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