I like to start these things with a bold statement... Why though?
In my career this number taught me more than any other. Grab a brew and I will explain why.
As far as I can remember I was 5 years into my recruitment career; I knew it was an amazing industry to be in, that it was impossibly hard and ridiculously easy; often in the same week. I got it, and I was good at it. I was working exclusively with Toy and Nursery businesses across the UK (and internationally on occasion), and I loved it. I loved the matchmaking and enjoyed the level of help and support I was able to give both client and candidates throughout the recruitment process, and I loved that I never knew exactly what was going to happen with each vacancy.
As I reflect, I was my manager’s nightmare; had an answer for everything, an excuse for every failure and I vocalised (and moaned about) the hard parts of recruitment way more than the wins. And then 14,485 happened and tipped everything!
14,485 isn’t merely a number, it was the biggest fee I wrote during my employed time as a recruiter; shortly following this I was made a partner in the firm (I was 26). I am sure I will never forget going to the big board that morning (oh… the sales board with the big pens was everyone’s favourite place) and writing that number up… I cannot remember if there was great joy and celebration; it was the early noughties so it’s safe to say there was probably binge drinking happening (as a business we were never shy about celebrating – heavily).
What I do remember is flippantly saying “3 phone calls for that fee, that’s all it took”. Anyone who has ever worked in a sales team knows that the feeling of being ‘top of the board’ is amazing. I was Batfink for the next few weeks – my wings were like a shield of steel, and I felt unstoppable.
I remember my MD commenting that my activity was down but what the hell did that matter?? £14,485 – what more did he want! I was epic at recruitment; and I was earning nearly 5k a call!! You know what? He had a massive point which I didn’t see at the time, but it had a massive impact… My cockiness, lack of activity, and a refusal to even acknowledge to the advice of others had a huge impact. You know what I billed the next month? £0, and the month after that? £0… SHIT! It’s easy to understand it now but at the time I just didn’t get it… 5k a call to 0k a call – WTF!! It was (I now know) ALL my doing!
This was where I really learned the importance of consistent activity in sales. £14,485 sounds amazing but across a quarter it was less than 5k a month and that was way off my target of 10k a month which saw me on performance management and sat in front of my MD understanding the lesson fast – and barely keeping my job.
During this time, I learned a lot more about my ability, skills, and experience… the cockiness that I had developed meant my ego was huge ‘3 phone calls to a massive fee’. I had been working exclusively in a niche market for 5 years and by using that sentence I had dismissed the activity that went with the result:
Monthly Mailshots – that went in the post (when I first started in recruitment, we had to stuff them and label them ourselves)
Weekly Faxshots – which were more targeted but often meant a late night or early morning… we didn’t have a technical way of doing it other than standing in front of the fax machine and sending 50 at a time (I couldn’t sit down as I couldn’t see the machine).
Cold calling phone calls to search for vacancies.
Phone calls to find potential candidates… who in the main were happy in their current job and weren’t planning to speak to a recruiter so I spoke to people at weird times of day.
Speaking to the important people of the trade… we would call them influencers now but that wasn’t a thing then (I still speak to a couple of them now, which is very cool all these years later).
Understanding that while none of the above actually directly earned money but without them the business cracked. For those that don’t know the trade like I used to, at the time it was widely accepted that the UK was one of the biggest markets for toys in the world (people spend a lot of money on their kids) and big spending consumers equals growing businesses. The opportunities to sell my services were out there but without the consistency and a robust process I would be more hit than miss.
So why is 14,485 a magic number? Because it taught me about consistency, it taught me to stick to the process and the sale would be the biproduct and not the focus. Fast forward 5 years and I started Birchwood Recruitment, made my first placement within 8 weeks, and invoiced £12,000 – I did not gloat or get cocky (frankly the cat didn’t give a shit) I concentrated on the activity in a way I hadn’t before – because it mattered, because it was my way this time. That is when I developed my process rather than following someone else’s. That was 2008, I started coaching in 2012 and now I share all my experience with my clients to ensure they don’t fall in the holes I did.
I have a REAL ability to see what others don’t; I didn’t see it as ‘a thing’ then. Now I understand that not everyone can do this (it’s in my DNA), and I do it very well; its one of the reasons people choose to work with me. My strongest piece of advice is simple but probably annoying:
Write down all elements of your sales process
Write down all elements of your marketing processes
Highlight the elements of your sales process that you must take prospects though.
Highlight the elements of your marketing that your prospects must see to bring themselves into your sales process.
Allocate blocks of time every week and month to ensure you DO the vital elements.
Create targets for yourself to hold yourself accountable to the activity
Create rewards for yourself to motivate you.
These will be the consistent factors you are searching for. so, all you must do now is take the action… because without action the above will just be a waste of time and energy.
Sound simple? Well, that’s because it is – it will frustrate and annoy you and it will feel like a waste of time… I promise you it isn’t. in fact, it is the difference that makes the difference.
I help people in all aspects of the development of themselves; in all sorts of cool and curious ways and I would love to hear from you. When you are ready to join the REAL World get in touch to arrange your no obligation discovery call. 07796 6697100, firstname.lastname@example.org