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Harness the Eight Stages of Successful Retained Search to Accelerate Growth

Christian Spletzer - February 12, 2019

This article is the twelfth of a 12-article series about The Eight Stages of Successful Retained Search. By reading the entire series, you and your search team will learn the overall retained search process, how each role is connected and dependent on the others, and how to most effectively proceed from the first stage to the last.

We’ve established that there are eight distinct stages of a successful retained search. As connected, dependent segments of the overall process, each stage builds on the previous one. Here’s a recap of each stage:

  1. Find work. The first and most stressful stage in the process occurs before the project even begins. We looked at six important best practices for finding work.

  2. Win work. Ultimately, winning work amounts to closing the sale. We established four fundamental steps this part of the process entails—and how to do it successfully.

  3. Strategy. Every successful retained search must begin with an established research strategy—a clear set of instructions to follow and refer to throughout the search process. Over the course of three articles, you learned the best way to approach and execute this critical stage.

  4. Research. This stage is highly dependent on your search strategy and requires much more than simply logging on to LinkedIn and browsing resumes. We discussed three fundamental best practices you should follow to ensure the best results.

  5. Outreach. Once you establish people who look good on paper, you have to connect with them to see if they’ll be good as actual candidates. But as we saw, it involves much more than simply picking up the phone and making calls.

  6. Assessment. Typically, only 10 percent of researched prospects in a successful retained search will make it to the assessment stage. We explained what a proper assessment entails and the best way to achieve success.

  7. Decision. In this late, yet pivotal stage, we reviewed the important considerations you must take into account when making sure clients and candidates have all the information they need to make an intelligent decision.

  8. Close & Grow. In every search you conduct, you need to finish strong. As we saw, this last stage of a successful retained search is ripe with opportunity to leverage results and learning for business development.

The quality of the process you establish with The Eight Stages and the veracity by which you follow that process will ultimately define your success as a search firm.

Putting A Process In Place

Armed with this information, you and your team should be poised for improved effectiveness, efficiency, and growth. Knowledge is power, as they say. However, understanding something and then implementing it are two entirely different undertakings. For the best chance at success, you need the right tools and support along the way.

A good analogy is the goal of getting into shape. There’s plenty of information you can read on why it’s important and the process you should take to accomplish it. Equipped with that information, many people buy a gym membership and start working out. They are likely to see some initial results. But too often, it doesn't prove to be consistent or long-lasting. In those cases, they’re more likely to end up paying for something they aren’t using effectively—or lose motivation and stop going altogether.

In contrast, people who invest in using a personal trainer at the gym have the greatest chance of achieving their desired goal. Why? The trainer provides the support you need in the form of detailed instructions of what to do, in what order, when, and how often. They guide you throughout a defined process and make sure you’re doing things correctly, so you don’t inadvertently get hurt. Trainers can also support you in capitalizing on your progress to exceed and expand your initial goals.

Likewise, to implement the entire process I’ve outlined in The Eight Stages of Successful Retained Search, the bottom line is finding the right implementation tool and accompanying support. A solution that is easy to use and will guide you and your team through every stage of the process.

A Tool Built Exclusively To Support All Eight Stages of Successful Retained Search

In the search industry, people often look to software to improve their process and solve pain points. Unfortunately, most search software is primarily built to support recruiters and researchers. So, while some software may support one or two stages really well, they lack in supporting—or outright ignore—the rest of the stages, roles, and overall process.

During my time as a recruiter, I became frustrated with the limitations of these types of software. I also saw so many talented people around me that were faced with the decision of giving away half their search fees to the house or go out on their own and be forced to compete against the “big guys” of search—without the type of support they needed.

So, I set out to build Clockwork to provide firm owners with a software platform that supports all eight stages of a successful retained search process. As a result, Clockwork’s built-in methodology and best practices not only efficiently guide teams through all eight stages like a color-by-numbers drawing, but is designed to produce better results through improved collaboration between firm owners, their clients, and the entire search team. It is the only recruiting software that improves how search firms and their clients work together on retained search projects.

More than that, Clockwork is a complete business solution for firm owners. In addition to managing your projects, client collaboration, and data, it provides a singular platform to:

  • Visually track individual/team activities and progress
  • Easily measure Placement Rate (PR) and Days to Placement (DTP) to define performance metrics for the firm as a whole and in specialties like industry, seniority, department and region
  • Manage your business development deals and pipeline

Ultimately, it streamlines and simplifies your client, team, and data management efforts while growing your business.

Accelerate Your Business Growth By Focusing On The Bottom Line: Client Satisfaction

Regardless of what tool you use or how you decide to implement your process, remember that firms and teams who understand and appreciate that client satisfaction matters first and foremost are most likely to succeed long-term. Alternatively, firms comprised of employees who focus solely on backend technology and the latest time-saving innovations inevitably prove less effective as a whole.

Based on an analysis of over 30,000 retained search projects over 3.5 years, our Executive Search Performance Benchmark Report clearly shows that the level of client engagement in your searches directly affects your likelihood of success. The more you keep a client engaged throughout the project the more likely it will be a success. Success breed success. Happy clients are repeat clients and the best source of referrals.

If you stay aligned with these three fundamental principles of retained search—the 8-stage process, collaboration, and search project performance—you’ll be in an advantageous position to distinguish yourself from the competition, establish long-term partnerships with your clients, and grow your business.

To learn how The 8 Stages of Successful Retained Search are incorporated and supported in Clockwork, read our support documentation. To see it in action, view this playlist of videos.

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Stage 8: Close & Grow
Christian Spletzer

Christian Spletzer

After years of working as an executive recruiter, Christian Spletzer founded Clockwork to improve how search firms and clients work together on retained search projects. He designed Clockwork to help recruiters demonstrate their consultative value to their clients at every stage of each project.

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