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Training & Commentary
by Bill Radin

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The Recruiter's Digest
 Recruiting News, Training & Commentary by Bill Radin

April, 2009

Negotiating a Higher Fee

As a recruiter, how can you command a higher fee?

Well, here’s one idea that sounds almost too good to be true—you simply ask for it. Savvy recruiters know that at any given point in time, there are companies out there with staffing needs so urgent, they'll do whatever it takes to get the position filled.

Like stranded airline passengers who are sick and tired of hanging around the terminal, they're more than willing to open their wallets, just to get going.

Besides, the fee component isn't so critical to every client that it always trumps everything else. In fact, I've known hiring managers—and HR managers—who have learned that giving an incentive to recruiters can actually yield higher quality results than beating them up on price.

Being penny-wise and pound-foolish is a pretty common phenomenon—in all aspects of life. For example, I have a friend who takes pride in haggling with home improvement contractors until he gets the absolute lowest price. As a result, the winning contractor feels slighted and does shoddy work, and my friend ends up with a job that has to be done all over again. I keep telling him that sometimes it's actually SMART to pay retail price—but he's not ready accept such a radical concept.

The point is, if you're patient and you can sidestep the demons, you'll find better angels with whom to do business.

The Fee You Deserve
But what if you keep asking for a higher fee, and you never get it? If that's the case, you'll need to counter the fee objection with a compelling reason why you're worth the extra money.

The phrase "Differentiate or Die" isn't just the title of a book by advertising legend Jack Trout. It's a concept that directly applies to premium pricing, and how to sell it. Consider this. If you're not more:


well-connected in your field;


knowledgeable about your market;


capable of saving your client time;


willing to work hard and commit all your resources to succeed; or


better able to apply creative or innovative methods than your competition,

then you haven't found a way to differentiate yourself. And if that's the case, you probably don't deserve a higher fee anyway.

Negotiating a higher fee generally requires the willing participation of what I call an affluent or a self-actualized buyer. Rarely is price is the issue with this type of customer, who more than anything else is looking for results—or a pleasurable buying experience.

If you find that you're focusing mainly on price, the perceived value of what you're offering will almost always get lost in the shuffle. It's only when value takes center stage that price ends up in the back row where it belongs.

So, whether your strategy is to wait in the weeds for the right type of customer to come along, or to build up your value relative to other recruiters, a stronger fee will make life a whole lot more enjoyable—not only for you, but for everyone else, too.



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