January 28, 2020 – We’ve all heard about global talent shortages. But have you ever thought how the talent deficit is impacting the executive search industry itself? With competition stronger than ever, recruitment leaders are dealing with a pressing dilemma of their own: How and where to find top revenue producers. According to Ken Vancini, founder and CEO of Innova International and a consultant to the sector, it is now the No. 1 challenge facing search firms.
The two main activities that a leader of a growing professional services firm should focus on, said Mr. Vancini, are working with clients and recruiting new revenue partners. “While working with clients is an obvious necessity, recruiting new partners stands to be the main way in which firms can grow,” he said. “Executive search firms offer headhunting services to their clients,” said Mr. Vancini. “But if you’re a recruitment firm leader, turn that question around and ask: ‘How do I recruit and retain revenue producers?’” More often than not, he said, top search leaders are at a loss to find answers.
To provide some insight and to answer this pressing question and others, Mr. Vancini recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss his experience as a long-time advisor to executive search firms and to offer up a “proven playbook,” according to clients, on how firms should tackle growth opportunities in 2020.
Mr. Vancini perfected his recruitment growth model at ZRG Partners, where he served as founder and president. That background has given him invaluable “inside knowledge” on how search firms work – but also what makes them successfully grow. His goal now as an advisor to recruiting businesses, he said, is to “help advance the executive search industry…to help firms grow and scale.” With experience and passion working in tandem, Mr. Vancini has shaped Innova to help its clients with sustainable advancement.
Developing a Strategy
Rob Andrews, CEO of Houston-based Allen Austin, said that “hiring new revenue producers can be challenging.” Looking to 2020 and beyond, he noted, “Hiring new revenue producers is a key growth strategy at our firm. While we have always had a compelling offering, Ken helped us package our incredible brand equity and strong reputation with clients. He helped us develop a strategy to attract the best producers.”
With over 20 years of experience, Mr. Vancini knows well the difficulties that search firms often face when hiring revenue producers. The No. 1 challenge he sees is that recruitment providers have little to no presentation materials to attract potential producers. Those unfamiliar with the process might assume their company name, brand or even their charm is enough to entice revenue producers to join their team. Mr. Vancini argues that search firms must have targeted materials for this exclusive purpose.
But beyond that important documentation, he offers a tried-and-true checklist that search firms must address in order to successfully recruit and retain producers. This, he says, is how executive search firms will be able to grow and expand in this new year.
Offer something different. At ZRG, Z-Score was a real game changer, said Mr. Vancini, who credits this metric system with being one of the reasons ZRG is so successful. Bringing science to the hiring process, he describes the score as “revolutionary.”
A New Twist in the War for Talent
We’ve all heard about global talent shortages. But have you ever thought how the talent deficit is impacting the executive search industry itself? With competition stronger than ever, recruitment leaders are dealing with a pressing dilemma of their own: How and where to find top revenue producers. According to Ken Vancini, founder and CEO of Innova International and a consultant to the sector, it is now the No. 1 challenge facing search firms. In this episode, Mr. Vancini explores growth and expansion models and discusses the best ways for search leaders to scale their businesses. Listen now!
Selling. The aforementioned difficulty that many firms face is their lack of presentation or materials. The first thing Mr. Vancini does with a new client is help them prepare a complete package of information targeted to new partners.
Get everyone involved. Everyone in the company should be involved in the interview process. The very best people to speak with new partners are the firm’s current revenue producers. “They can talk to the good [and] the bad of what’s going on in your position,” he said.
Cultural fit. Mr. Vancini’s go-to analogy is that “the body can reject the kidney.” It’s important that the new hire is comfortable in the company and vice versa; this is where getting the sign off from as many people as possible is important, he noted.
Compensation and equity. Including a clearly defined compensation and equity package in the material presented to potential revenue producers can allow both the company and producers to make the best choice upfront without surprises. Often, the simplest solution is the best solution.
“With these tips in mind, executive search firms can consider how they approach their own recruitment,” said Mr. Vancini. “If a firm intends to grow in 2020, consider reaching out to industry professionals such like us to consult and assist in the hiring and retaining of revenue producers for your firm.”
Mr. Vancini recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss how Innova International can help search firms grow in 2020. Here are some excerpts from that interview.
Ken, if an executive search firm reaches out to you, what’s next? Walk us through your process?
What happens is through either networking or referrals, people get my name. And usually what I do is I have one or two conversations with them about their needs, what I do, how I do it, and then I send off some information targeted to their needs. Then I do something called an organizational review where I’ll come out to the firm and we’ll sit down for a day and a half and we’ll go through everything from initial client contact through candidate placement. We go through the firm’s financial performance, market position, branding and brand equity. We talk about the firm’s goals for hiring partners. During the organizational review we discuss the firm’s long-term needs.
“The environment right now is very competitive. If you are producing more than a million dollars a year, there are many, many search firms who will be vying for your attention.”
A goal of Innova International is to help search firms hire revenue producers smartly and efficiently. Can you discuss why the process itself, and not just the end-goal, is important?
You see this with the clients that I work with. The outcome of the process is only as good as the detail you put into the process. So, you know, right now it’s extremely competitive to hire revenue producers at executive search firms. And as such, you have to be really sharp. You have to be able to understand what’s going on in the marketplace, what the needs are [of] the individual partners or revenue producers coming in. And you have to be disciplined about it… There are certain things that have to be done in order to make sure that partners are brought on the right way. [There is a right way to] find them, attract them, recruit them, hire them and retain them for the long term. And that all comes about as a result of consistent, disciplined execution. And execution in this case is which strategies you need [in order] to go and find your partners and how are you recruiting them.
You mentioned that you need to “sell new revenue producers like you sell a client.” Expand a little on that.
The environment right now is very competitive. If you are producing more than a million dollars a year, there are many, many search firms who will be vying for your attention… And [you need] to be able to sell [and] present yourself and your firm in a very professional way. [In the process of] recruiting new revenue producers and partners, you [must] do it in a professional way and in a way that it warrants the attention of the organization. So you want to make sure your marketing department is putting together specific collateral material targeted towards new partners. You want to make sure that the organization understands the importance of alignment with bringing on new partners. That is critical.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media