Business Development Paradox : a condition found in companies who state a desire to grow, but don’t expect their best business development people to find new business. Commonly found in Recruitment.

Why are your best business development people doing the least business development activity?

It’s an ugly sentence granted. Take a second to let it sink in. Read it out loud maybe.

It’s a peculiar part of the recruitment industry. The people with the highest levels of skill and experience in business development, spend the least amount of time doing active business development.

It’s a paradox.

If you want your business to grow, surely you want your most effective people to be flexing their BD muscles and using their networks to bring in new business. That’s what happens in Law and Accounting firms. It’s the partners at the top who are responsible for bringing in the business. So why in recruitment have we flipped that model on its head?

Here’s a Typical Recruitment Career..

Month 1-12

Welcome to recruitment. You start on a low base salary and you’re paid to source candidates for other consultants. If you survive that, you have to start finding new business through referencing, lead chasing and business development activity. Start learning how to sell, build client relationships and work a vacancy.

Month 12-18

It’s make or break time. You should start to get better results from business development activity. You may get a few accounts passed to you when someone leaves, if you’re lucky.

Month 18-30

You’ve reached the peak of your business development powers. You are skilled at winning new business and you’re starting to get repeat business and learning to expand accounts. You’re earning bigger bonuses.

Month 30 & Up

You have so many vacancies, you don’t need to chase leads or actively develop new accounts. You just farm your existing clients. Your BD skills are on the wane, because you don’t need to use them. You’re a top biller and no one wants to upset you.
Let’s face it, you have to work pretty damn hard to get to the upper stages of a recruitment career. So, why shouldn’t you reap the rewards of what you’ve sown? Let the “noobs” do the grunt work and prove they’ve got what it takes.

That mindset might be at the root of some of our biggest problems.
1. New Consultant Churn

How many of your new hires make it past the first six months of being a 360 Recruiter? If it’s more than 40% you’re way ahead of the curve. What other industry would tolerate that? none?

2. Lost Opportunity Cost

All that money you’re spending on hiring, training and then firing new consultants is rather wasteful. How many potentially great people have you lost? A lot of smart people recognise the game is stacked against them and go play elsewhere.

3. When Bad Times Come

The market will turn. Are today’s top billers going to be ready, willing, or able to get back on the phones and grind out the new business you’ll need to survive?

It’s a broken model, but is anyone willing to fix it? What could we learn from the Law and Accounting firms? How might we adapt the partner model to work in recruitment?