What if Executive Search Consultants Produced Tremendous and Lasting Value for the Fees They are Paid? What Would That Look Like?

During the initial meetings with search consultants, or during the mysterious competitive “shoot out” presentations, most search consultants come armed with the usual spiel:

“Yes, we can do that kind of search. In fact, we have done 100 in this category, among our partners, over the last six months!”
“We have an unmatched set of contacts in the marketplace so that we can rapidly produce a great set of candidates (however, the average search takes at least four months mainly due to client schedules and decision processes).”
“We will offer a preferred provider agreement if you do several searches and this will save you lots of money.”
If you ask, then we will tell you that, we do offer a one year guarantee (under certain circumstances- be sure to read the fine print!)”
“We will send your first invoice immediately upon signing the confirmation agreement, then one every month till the total fee is paid, regardless of the progress or status of the search. (This is the market standard.)”
“It is also a given that beyond the standard fee of one third of the first year’s cash compensation, and out of pocket expenses, that we also add on an overhead charge of an additional 40 percent of our fee. (However, you should be so happy that we are working on your search given our brand and pay our invoices without question.)”

A conversation with a “high value” provider would sound quite different.

For example, when the CEO asks, “How are you guys any different than the big firms that have the big rolodex, the big overhead, and all the other big stuff?”

“First of all Mr. CEO, let’s begin where we believe we can start the production of real value for you.

First, we offer a “challenge session” where we challenge every assumption and belief about the job search. In our day to day work, we have seen too many issues go unchallenged in the early stage of a search and produce chaos and poor results in the long run. After we challenge the situation, we then assist in the creation of a crystal clear search need and set of objectives.

Our next value point is the creation of results based on benchmark objectives across the engagement rather than invoices and overhead charges every few weeks. If we are not hitting the benchmarks, we are not earning the fee. On the other hand, when we are hitting or exceeding the benchmarks we are charging a fair fee for great value produced.

Most importantly, we guarantee the excellence of our work, the value of the selected candidate for two years. The level of documentation and fact-based truth about how we did our work, references, reports, analysis and other valuable recommendations will prove the quality of what we have done and how we have done it.

Finally, we stay in contact with all of our placements, become their career advisors on leadership development and provide informal assistance to help them grow in their jobs. This is how we provide tremendous and sustaining value. But, this is only the beginning.

If as a CEO or hiring manager you had this level of conversation with a search consultant what would you do next? What else would you want to know?

© 2007 Selker Leadership LLC

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