Third World War begins Now – Recruitment Agencies Mercenaries or Allies?



Dramatic? Possibly but the scale of what the world faces over the next few years is beyond anything we have ever experienced in our history and the consequences for the global War-on-Talent are massive. Read on and form your own opinion.


In recent months there have been a number of reports released which collectively reveal how the global employment world is about to go through a seismic shift. It may seem odd when we have high levels of unemployment in most of the major industrial nations but there is a global shortage of skilled workers.


Recent research by Accenture Management Consulting indicates that business leaders believe access to appropriately skilled workers is essential for economic recovery but worryingly more than 50% say it is difficult to recruit entry level workers with the desired skills.


Alarmingly Accenture’s Turning the Tide: How Europe can Rebuild Skills and Generate Growth points to the issue continuing as businesses cut back on training despite acknowledging their own needs for staff. As demographics start to impact our workforces demand for entry level workers is about to accelerate.


According to the McKinsey Global Institute’s report,“Preparing for a New Era of Work.” in the United States, the gap between the number of people graduating from college and the number of college graduates businesses require will be 1.6 million graduates by 2020.


In Europe a shortage of 23 million college-educated workers will exist by 2020. Whilst new IMF paper – “Chronicle of a Decline Foretold: Has China Reached the Lewis Turning Point?”states that by, 2030 China will have a total workforce shortage of almost 140 million workers. “This will have far-reaching implications for both China and the rest of the world,” said the IMF.


China cannot avert their demographic cliff, as a result of the effects of low fertility rates – and the one child policy. It will take them over fifty years to turn it round. Even now the Chinese battle for our talented youngsters is starting.


During a recent open day I attended at one of the UK’s top universities for fashion design, the University of Westminster, the head of department stated that China was rapidly becoming the number one destination for many of his students with the Chinese paying good money to attract his top talent.


The IMF study found that—thanks to global competition, changing demographics and persistent “geographic mismatches” between the supply of workers and the demand for them—a stark skills shortage is emerging worldwide.


When you consider that 140 million is the combined population on the UK and Germany you don’t need to be a genius to realise that some of these shortages have strategic implications for nations.
Where are the shortages going to be most acute?


A review by Adzuna which was summarised in the  Daily Telegraph , at the end of last year pointed to IT, Healthcare and engineering as being the sectors in highest demand. The boom in Oil and Gas has been one that is globally overheating too with well publicised shortages there too. With the number of new recruits to these industries showing no signs of exceeding short term demands its clear the role for niche recruitment agencies operating in the sectors is set to continue.


Will recruitment agencies choose to exploit this market and sell their skills to the highest bidder or will they align themselves with the major global corporate players who will need their support and secure lucrative corporate contracts. It is going to be interesting to watch.



For me the the critical battle ground will be Social Media. The ‘millennial’ generation are the ones where the skill shortage will be most acute and these are the most social media savvy generation. Win this battle recruiters you win the war and your prosperity is assured. Lose it and you will become as current as the dodo. The choice as they say is yours.



In next week’s blog I will be looking at ways the industrialised nations can respond to the Global War-on-Talent.

Four Steps to turn an Ad-hoc client into a Corporate Cash-cow



It is every recruitment consultants dream to turn their great individual client relationships with single line managers into lucrative corporate customers that will ensure their lasting success and prosperity. After 30 years in recruitment sales I now find myself, as a business development expert, trainer and coach, being asked this question repeatedly several times a week.

In the current economic climate it appears to have become a burning question for so many niche and SME agencies and recruiters.

In my career I have turned ad-hoc supply relationships into corporate clients many times and feel it would benefit my audience to share the key steps that you need to take to achieve this.

The first step on your quest to winning corporate clients is to get to:

Know your Client.

By this I do not mean the line manager with whom you have your existing relationship, their 7645227_sfootball team preference or how many kids they have but understand their business in its totality. You might like to start by finding out:


  • Who are the other recruiters and stakeholders in the business?
  • How do they inter-relate?
  • What are their business objectives corporately and as individual functions and departments?
  • Can you obtain an organisation chart?
  • How do they normally recruit staff?
  • Which managers recruit and what sort of staff?
  • What projects are starting, running and ending?
  • Are there any resource deficiencies?
  • What are their business/organisations challenges?
  • Where are their sites located?
  • How does their business work?

These are just some of the questions I would typically look to ask. The list is quite extensive and often one answer leads to a myriad of follow up questions.

Having established a sound understanding of your customer the next step you need to take is:

Know their Business Challenges

15845975_sTo achieve this you have to have truly understood your client in step one as well as grasped their business drivers and their current situation. Typically their challenges will be focused on:


  • Legislation or Compliance issues
  • Technology changes
  • New Markets penetration challenges
  • New Products launches
  • Risk of Failure – Business or Personal
  • Project slippages
  • Averting a crisis

In recruitment terms their key challenge will normally be a resource pinch point that results from a skill availability issue. This can be temporary or long term and is sometimes linked to business growth or restructuring challenges.

Once you have fully understood their challenges as well as the interaction between their business dynamics you are then ready to move to step three, which is:

Appreciate the Consequences of failure or success


10856674_sTo understand their consequences may need some lateral thought. They generally require you to project yourself into your client’s shoes to fully appreciate their predicament. In large complex organisations this is hard, as you will have multi-stakeholders with different agendas and different views on the same situation.

In addition they will all have different personalities and ways of looking at the same problem. A Financial Controller is likely to view a failing project different to their HR Partner and both may see it totally different from the Head of Compliance or a Marketing/ IT/ Engineering Director. Gaining and understanding these multiple perspectives is an essential step in this process.

For a lot of consultants this requires a huge shift within themselves. Having the ability to project yourself into someone else’s situation is a massive life skill which sadly some people never learn.

Typically the consequences of failure or success for your client may have different impacts for different stakeholders. As you explore these with your contacts during meetings and phone calls you will gain a collective sense of how important the delivery of their outcome is to the organisation overall. Crucially how much value they place upon any solution.

You may also sense that in some cases they have not fully comprehended the full impact or consequences of failure or success. This is not unusual as it is through sharing their problem with a resource expert like yourself that the true picture actually starts to emerge.

If you discover this to be the case you need to show understanding and be respectful of the journey your customer is also on. Allow them space and time to comprehend their situation. Don’t immediately seek to close them. Inappropriate pressure at this point will cause you to break rapport and lose your clients trust. Learning to read clients body language can be quite useful at this point.

To assist you in identifying issues here are a few typical consequence which you might identify:

  • Business failure or success
  • Project failure or success
  • Loss of credibility with customers
  • Loss or increase in market share
  • Financial penalties
  • Loss or increase in profitability
  • Loss or increase in prestige
  • Loss or increase in reputation

In addition the executive sponsor or project lead may have a personal loss or gain too. This too may affect the dynamics of the sale.

By now you will in your own mind probably have started to gain a sense of the optimum solution that works for your client. The final step in this process is to:

Be Creative with your Solution


12353883_sNow that you fully understand your client’s challenges and their consequences of failure/success that you will have a sense of the value you client places on finding a solution.


To find the optimum solution for your customer you need to be creative and imaginative in identifying the one that delivers the greatest value. The specific solution will depend on such a wide array of factors that its impossible for me to be specific. If you would like to contact me I’d be delighted to discuss any specific situations that you are wrestling with and offer specific advice.

Your clients however will ultimately pay more the greater the value your solution offers them. I have many times secured deals with clients, which cost the client thousands of pounds more than my competitors solution because my solution delivered the greatest value.

Remember the price a client is willing to pay is about value, which is not always intrinsic to your product or service but your clients need or business circumstances.

To discover more about our bespoke four day training programmes where we train and coach your sales teams through this for real call Ian on 07552 555858 or email us on [email protected]


Want to know how to win 70% of pitches?


Wouldn’t that be fantastic, impossible some say, you’re crazy cant be done. Well it can.

This summer we have seen a group of young men and women take on the best in the world and beat them 7 times out of 10. In fact, but for disqualification’s the percentage could have been higher.

At London 2012 the Team GB Cycling team won 7 gold medals and they did it in Beijing fours previously a performance that was no fluke.


Well on the final day of London 2012 Chris Brailsford went on BBC Breakfast TV and explained (BBC Article). It was not as the french said because our wheels were better, Brailsford even joked that the Team GB’s had a special quality, ‘they were round’. (True and L’Equipe did an article on it!– Click here).

No the answer was down to ‘marginal gains’.

“The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together,” he explained, without looking at all like the evil mastermind of a mysterious sect.

“There’s fitness and conditioning, of course, but there are other things that might seem on the periphery, like sleeping in the right position, having the same pillow when you are away and training in different places.

“Do you really know how to clean your hands? Without leaving the bits between your fingers?

“If you do things like that properly, you will get ill a little bit less.

“They’re tiny things but if you clump them together it makes a big difference.”

This concept is not totally new but the application of it at the Olympics by Team GB has seen the achievement of incredible results.

In our sales training we teach our students to seek a 1% improvement every week in everything they do. So in a year they will have improved by 52%.

So how would you do it? In sales there are thousands of variables, some you control some you don’t. The secret is to focus on those you can control.

In our experience having the right mindset is a key one.

Like Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton, Bradley Wiggins, Dani King or Laura Trott the mindest you have when you approach selling, to your clients, prospects or existing customers has a massive effect on your success. Hundred of books have been written on the importance of a positive mental attitude, from Norman Vincent Peal’s ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’ to Rhodda Brynes ‘The Secret’ and the power of ‘attraction’.

Brailsford knew this when he was working with the Team GB Cycling Team which is why he brought in sports psychologist Steve Peters to coach the teams mental approach.

In sales we all know this but do we practice it. What do we do daily to make sure we have a positive mental out look. In most cases we are solving our clients problems with what we sell. So would you have confidence in someone solving your most challenging problems if you thought they had too many problems already? Probably not. Look at your own mindset do you portray the air of someone who is invincible or project someone beaten down by the recession.

We are living in demanding economic times I hear you say but very few of us can control the Euro-Debt Crisis or the state of the UK economy. So as sales people we need to focus on the things we can control, and to a degree ignore all the worlds problems.

When Team GB set out to take on the entire world and beat them did they look at the size of the task and give up. Just think about it. Why was their task any less challenging than yours. By their example they have shown you how to beat the entire world seven times out of 10 on two separate occasions.

Brailsford has even shown you the secret. They merely looked at their performance and then broke it down into its individual constituent parts before then setting about making sure they improved each element.

Think about your own performance. I know its a bit humbug but does drinking on a ‘school night’ really improve your performance or not? What about ‘exercise’? Its a fact but the fitter you are physically improves your ability to handle and cope with stress. Is your diet the best for you? What about the books do you read and the people you talk to?

You will notice there are some people you talk to who when you come away you feel inspired, motivated, enthused and energised. Others who drain you or take away your motivation. Sometimes you cannot avoid some of these people but you can control how you contact or approach these people and the effect they have on you. There are techniques that you can use to counteract these types of individuals or re-balance you, perhaps, even help you look differently at their behaviour so it has a positive effect on your performance.

Steve Peters and Team GB know some of them and so do those of us at Selling Success. As Master NLP Practitioners we possess a lot of this knowledge and integrate key elements of it into our training. There is however no universal panacea but working with a qualified coach you can explore which techniques work best for you.

Remember we are all different. What we are doing here is seeking to identify and work on the ‘marginal gains’ that work for you. If today you do nothing else take the opportunity to reflect on yourself, your own performance. Examine those things that have a positive effect and those that don’t. Keep a diary. What things have you done today that helped you, what have you done that didn’t.

The South African championship winning golfer, Gary Player ,used to say ‘the harder I practice the luckier I get’. Sportsman know this stuff.

So it is possible, you can win 70% of your pitches but you need to start now. Work out what are the myriad of elements that go into your performance and dedicate the rest of your career to improving them. If you need help drop us a line or give us a call, we’d love to hear from you. Continue reading “Want to know how to win 70% of pitches?”