U – Upfront Payment – Ali Whitehead

In this video,  Ali Whitehead from Flourish Recruitment Training shares how recruiters getting upfront payment from their clients will be a key to success in 2019  


Ali said, – “I believe U stands for upfront fees or retained services. Now, if we have a look at the trending over the last couple of years, you’ll see that the amount of external contingency recruitment has gone down and gone down dramatically. And this is because a lot of internal teams have got really, really good at filling the mid to lower level roles internally. They’ve got great recruiters in and they’ve got a nice, healthy marketing budget to do it. So the only way forward for recruiters is to put in something different to what the internal teams can do, can deal with. And, actually, part of that is the higher level searches. Internal teams really, really struggle with high-level searches or executive search. So what they will do is engage you at a higher level and you can charge upfront fees or retainers to be able to search the marketplace to find their key players which they can’t find themselves.

So, what I suggest you do is have a look at putting a premium priced model into your recruitment firm. And if you are able to do this, you will find that, no matter what the economic or the political climate, there will always be a need for key players.

You become pretty much recession-proof. So, have a think about that, have a think about whether you want to continue being a contingency, filling one role out of five, or whether you’d like to up that fill rate to 95% to a hundred percent success rate and get paid up front.”

But how can you use Ali’s video to help you engage your team in willing more retained business?

Use the I.C.E learning workout below to help you use this video with your team.

Ideas to Consider

  • Understand what motivates your audience
  • Understand the challenges, issues or frustrations facing your audience
  • Build a plan that involves content, email, social media, phone and face-to-face interactions that allows you to demonstrate your capabilities to your client.


  • What are other higher level solutions that recruiters can offer to clients?
  • How might clients benefit from retaining you to fill a particular role?
  • Who do you know already that pays retainers to clients? If not retainers who engage a recruiter exclusively?
  • How would your service need to change to justify a retainer fee?


  • Over the next 48 hours speak to 10 of your existing clients and ask them the following questions.
    • “what has your experience been of retaining a recruiter to perform a search?”
    • “In what situations would you feel retaining a recruiter would be the right approach to finding someone for your team?”
  • Collect the answers and then as a group or with a colleague discuss
    • What experiences did our clients have?
    • What situations did our clients feel retaining a recruiter would be the right approach?


From this exercise, you will likely find out when your clients would consider a retainer but also discover that only a few clients would consider it an option.

Selling retainers requires more than just asking for money upfront from a client.   Learning to sell retainers requires time and effort to craft your service offering and then finding a client base that wants to buy that service.

Ali’s message is spot on.  Contingent recruitment is becoming a tighter market to succeed in.  Selling a higher level solution to clients is one way to differentiate yourself from other agencies.   The challenge for every recruiter is when and how to transition your approach to recruitment.

Join me in the Gym and ask me or any of the other coaches for advice on selling retainers join for a free trial https://members.recruitinggym.com

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