You Need to Stop Competing and Seeing Differences Between You and Others
Couldn't be righter, thought I. The first rule of monopolistic competition: product differentiation to create economic rents. But read on: I can't decide whether this guy is:
- A hell of a salesman; or
- A manipulative creep; or
- A sociopath.
When you are in the recruiting business, what typically happens is that law firms will call you in a very formal way to tell you they have no interest in a candidate of yours. The conversations will typically last no more than 30 to 45 seconds."Oh sure," as the old punchline has it, "but you'd be surprised how many go to bed with me..."
“We are calling to let you know that we have no interest in John Smith,” they might say.
“Thank you,” would be the standard response.
After several weeks of this I began to feel that the entire situation was somewhat absurd. This is what recruiters do all over the country. I decided that the best thing I could do was mix it up.
“We’re calling to let you know we have no interest in John Smith,” a caller might say. The callers were typically women in their mid-20’s to early 30’s who were called “recruiting coordinators” inside law firms.
“You know, I was just outside having my third Diet Coke in the past hour and I realized that I have not heard your voice in some time. I really like your voice, how are you?”
“Fine,” they might say, still a little stiff.
“I am not sure how much longer I am going to be doing this recruiting thing. It is really exhausting. Law firms are really uptight. Do you enjoy making all these calls? It must be a real buzz kill just calling a bunch of recruiters all day. I cannot believe you and I are doing the jobs we are doing.”
This is what I would do with every caller. Eventually, I would get into my personal life and they would start to talk about themselves as well. A few months into this I was astonished when some of these women called me on the way home from work on their cell phones just to chat about random stuff, unrelated to work. One woman’s husband was going to be building a deck on the back of her house that weekend; one man who was a recruiting coordinator was going sailing; another girl was leaving her job because she wanted to ride a motorcycle across the United States.
I did the same thing with my candidates. (I actually ended up marrying one of them a few years later.) My candidates and I would talk about the most random stuff. Only about 1-2% of my time on the phone with my candidates and law firms was ever about anything having to do with actual business. I enjoyed what I was doing and made numerous friends. I looked at the entire process as something that was meant to be fun, establishing connections and nothing more.
Prior to becoming an attorney, I had been an asphalt sealing contractor around Michigan for over 7 years. Much of my job involved going door-to-door and selling my service. Someone I had never seen before would answer the door and I might say something like:
“Hi. I’m here to sell you the service of putting some asphalt sealer on your driveway but I am not in a very good mood right now. My girlfriend from school is working in Washington, DC and she just broke up with me so she can see other people this summer. I’m not too happy about it.” This is the last thing people expect from a salesman.
I would show up at the home of the person, well dressed and looking professional, and invariably the person would start talking to me about my personal situation and offering me advice. I would never have to sell the person anything. I would slip in how much the service was going to cost and the person would always agree. The next year I would show up at the person’s front door and they might ask me about my personal life and I would tell them what was going on, and they would do the same thing. Using this particular method of selling asphalt sealing, I was able to become probably the largest residential asphalt sealing contractor in Michigan in less than a couple of years. It is all about treating people as your friend.
I never talked about the service. I just disarmed myself, exposed a vulnerability of some sort and let the person start consoling me and offering advice. I liked getting the advice.