Recruitment & Agency Building

The Recruitment Conundrum

Deflecting objections with an eye toward closing the deal

by Sarano Kelley

Mr. Kelley, co-founder of The Kelley Group, is a recruitment coach focused on the financial services industry and is co-author of the book The Recruiting Conundrum: A Consistent, Disciplined Approach to Attracting Top Talent. Visit

Part IV in a four-part series

While recruiting new blood is probably high on your priority list, as a manager it can also be one of the more daunting jobs. No matter if you find the ideal candidate and then deliver the perfect pitch as to why they should join you and your firm, that pitch can turn into a curve ball that doesn’t quite make it over the plate. Instead of the “Count me in!” you are hoping for, you’re faced with objections, or an outright, “No, thank you.”

When approaching a potential recruit, you have to be prepared to respond to whatever rejections they throw at you. Probably the most common phrase you’ll hear is, “I’m happy where I’m at,” or I’m not considering a move, yet.” So how does a manager address comments like these?

First, you need to reframe how you, yourself, think about that response. Yes, they’re okay for now and maybe even happy with their current situation… but couldn’t they be happier at your firm? Isn’t it worth your time to explore that possibility? Of course, the solution is to clarify and then gather more information about the reasons for their satisfaction.

The Power of Replay and Reframe

It’s human nature to respond to an objection with: “I can appreciate what you’re saying, but …” or “I understand what you’re saying, but …”

Both of these responses can sound patronizing and must be avoided at all cost. If you don’t understand why this approach is a turn-off, put yourself on the other side of the conversation. When someone says to you, “I agree with you, but…” you immediately know that they don’t really agree with you, and you may even feel that they just lied about it and are now cleverly coming back at you with their argument.

Instead, I encourage a more powerful approach to dialoguing.

For example:

ADVISOR: “Look, I’ve been at the same firm for 20 years. I’m very happy here. I don’t see myself moving, nor do I want to waste your time. Thank you for calling.”

Replay to ensure you understood what they are saying and to let them know you are listening.

YOU: “So, given the fact you’ve been at your firm for 20 years, you see no reason to make a change at this time?

ADVISOR: (Verifies) “Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying.”

You then acknowledge and reframe what they have told you.

YOU: (Acknowledge) “I want to thank you for being upfront with me. I want to thank you for not wasting my time.” (Reframing): “You know, you sound really happy, and I must tell you that I often find that when people are actually happy it boils down to one critical factor. Listen, I respect you and I’m just curious: What is it that you like so much about your firm that’s making you so happy? I’m always interested in learning.”

You might compare it to a football player moving the ball down the field. Each yard gets him closer to a touchdown. Similarly, a drip campaign will help you move your recruiting efforts toward your final goal...

This reframe will provide a gateway to a deeper conversation that reveals important information for superseding their current satisfaction level.

Once they respond and rapport is developing between the two of you, continue with:

YOU: “Nothing is perfect. If there’s one thing you could change, what would it be?

Notice that with reframing, you’re not trying to change their mind; instead you’re trying to change their perspective. Often a gentle probe will help them realize things might not be as perfect as they had first expressed. You now have the ability to address their concerns or to provide a better alternative to their current situation, making sure you address the minor issues first, before tackling the larger ones.

Timing Isn’t Right

Sometimes you won’t be able to break through the barrier because it’s not the right time for a move, and even offering them a different way of viewing their situation just doesn’t work. So now what?

Keep in mind that “no” doesn’t always mean “no.” Sometimes that’s just an automatic response. Sometimes “no” could actually mean “not now,” and an opportunity to schedule a meeting at a later date has been created.

Don’t throw the baby (recruit) away with the bathwater. Instead, take this opportunity to develop a deeper relationship with them.

For example:

YOU: “This is a small industry, and you know I’m not looking for you to make a change today. I don’t know you well enough and you don’t know me well enough yet. However, I’ve enjoyed talking with you and would enjoy meeting with you again. I think we might have a lot in common. Would you like to go to lunch sometime next week or whenever it’s convenient for you?

When proposing this get-together to prospective recruits, you’ll easily discover the “when” for building a relationship with them.

It’s All About Relationships

Once you’ve found an opening within that advisor’s objections or have managed to make a date to meet with the “not now” recruit, the next step is persistence.

You might compare it to a football player moving the ball down the field. Each yard gets him closer to a touchdown. Similarly, a drip campaign will help you move your recruiting efforts toward your final goal. Continued communication will supply you with more information and most importantly, strengthen the relationship between the two of you.

Learn all you can about them. Don’t make it a one-sided conversation, instead when you talk about their family, personal hobbies and interests, share with them your own. You can also learn more about them by perusing their social media accounts.

Use this information to develop a creative and personalized drip campaign. For example, if the recruit is going to Hawaii on vacation, email an article on unique spots to explore or the best places to dine. Then mark the date of their return on calendar, and open your next conversation asking about the trip and the activities they enjoyed while there.

People like to be liked and to be heard. Both are keys to developing a great relationship. By putting an effort into understanding their business concerns and responding to them in a professional and non-threatening way, you’ll be steps closer to recruiting the best candidates to your firm, and you might just find you’ve made some great friends along the way.


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