We Must Recruit Employees Like We Acquire Customers

by Etienne Besson on 11 May 2011

in Recruitment

Customer acquisition is expensive and should aim at keeping customers for as long as possible. So why don’t employers do the same when hiring staff?

Every company will tell you how hiring and keeping the right employees is at the top of their priority list. However, we all know that the reality is often quite different.

But instead of making you all teary eyed with my nice HR theories, I will try to pretend that I actually know something about business and customer acquisition.

1. Define Your Product

First of all, you need a great product. But even if you have serious limitations and know that you can’t create the perfect product, you still need to define it very clearly.

Write down its purpose, its strengths, weaknesses and the potential for growth. And of course, you must be very clear on how it fits in with your other existing products.

2. Identify Your Ideal Customer

Even if you sell a one-size-fits-all product, you must still know who your target customer is. What are his experiences, skills as well as his current and future needs?

3. Get Your Customer’s Attention

For a very generic product, it might be enough to just publish ads and wait for the customers to come back to you. But the more sophisticated your product or service, the greater the need to carefully target your potential customers and maybe even to approach them individually.

But even if you decide to go with ads, make sure that they’re providing the necessary information and represent your product in a truthful and realistic way. And of course, never publish anything that is shoddy or amateurish.

4. We Have Contact

This saying is getting old, but most of the time there’s really no second chance to make a first impression.

So once you’re in contact with the prospects, don’t forget to treat them like customers. Of course, they need something that you have. But you also need the customers. Otherwise you wouldn’t try to sell them your product.

Sidenote: The “Customer Is King” Fairy Tale

I don’t believe that the customer is king. After all, you can’t refuse to sell a product to a king. And you can’t fire him later on if he stops being profitable or if his behavior becomes unacceptable.

5. Closing The Sale With The Right Customers

Once you have identified a customer who seems willing to buy your product, you need to proceed very carefully.

Don’t use the classic used car salesmen tactics. After all, nobody likes to be pressured into buying and lying to customers or just making unrealistic promises usually doesn’t pay off in the long run. What’s more, this would attract the wrong kind of customers.

So even if you actually closed the sale, the consequences would be lots of refunds and customers switching to a competitor as soon as possible. Or even worse, they could become the kind of customers who hardly buy anything but call your hotline all the time with the most annoying requests. What’s more, they might become disrespectful to your employees and tell everybody how bad your products are.

In the end you would probably have to fire them.

6. Keep Your Customers For As Long As Possible

Acquiring new customers takes not only a lot of time and effort, but can also be very expensive. So the logical consequence is to keep them (profitable) for as long as possible.

Of course, you might have a product that can only be sold once or becomes quickly boring. But sometimes it doesn’t take much to keep it fresh and interesting or to tweak it a little bit in order to offer as an upgrade.

Another option is to actively sell other products to your existing customers. After all, even if they stop buying your initial product, why not keep them as customers? Or even better, plan ahead and offer them a new product when they’re ready to move on.

7. Turn Your Customers Into Fans

The next step in my “how cool would it be if it actually worked” plan is to turn your customers into fans. Because once they truly identify with your products and your company, they won’t dream of buying anything from your competitors. And they will also tell all their friends about you.

But the absolute best thing about all this: you will be able to reduce your customer acquisition efforts, because both your existing customers and your reputation will attract more than enough new customers who absolutely want to buy from you.

So What About Recruiting?

Unfortunately I’m running out of time. So I won’t be able to write about job descriptions, talent attraction, candidate experience,  retention, career planning, internal mobility, referrals and employer branding.

Or maybe I just did? 😉

Previous post:

Next post: