The impact of Covid-19 has been widespread across the recruitment industry, but in the midst of the upheaval some agencies are finding new ways to win new business. How do you expand your customer base in the middle of one of the most challenging periods of uncertainty global commerce has ever known? It’s a tough question. Really tough. For recruitment and staffing businesses around the world, the market has been turned upside down by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, affecting not only the pace and volume of hiring across sectors but also ways of doing business. Client visits, on-site interviews, networking events and tradeshows have all come to a grinding halt, making ‘business as usual’ impossible. And yet, while there is no magic wand capable of restoring the short-term economic momentum, there are opportunities for recruitment agencies to continue expanding their client network amid the upheaval. In chatting with our own customer base, three key strategies have emerged that savvy companies are using to keep the wheels turning on business development. Stay close to your clients Precisely because of the current situation, there has never been a better time to phone customers or new prospects. More than 6 million UK workers have been furloughed, with a reported 7 out of 10 businesses taking advantage of the government-funded wage support scheme. This means that huge numbers of active customer contacts or potential clients are more accessible than ever to discuss new business relationships with recruiters. Freed from the hectic scramble of daily business, clients have time to explore new partnership options instead of sticking with their current status quo purely because time demands it. Hiring activity may be down now, but it will pick up with the economic rebound, and having the right suppliers in place will be critical for competitive firms and teams. Make client conversations deeper and more meaningful With extra time and no deadline pressures to distract, customer conversations can go in new directions and into more nuanced areas than ‘normal’ business conditions allow. Finally there’s an opportunity to dig into details around recruitment processes, interview structures or to learn more about client teams, plans and dynamics. Recruitment is very rarely just about matching candidate credentials to a job vacancy – it’s about having a complete picture of a company’s team, people, goals and commercial plans. Working with only half the story leaves recruiters in the dark, using only part of the information necessary to manage introductions and hiring effectively. The additional conversation scope offered by the situation isn’t just for delivering sales pitches – it’s for listening and learning too. Turn your camera on! From one of hundreds of video conferencing suppliers only a few months back, Zoom has shot to prominence as the pandemic’s dominant online meeting platform. Very much the ‘new normal’, clients and candidates alike are expecting remote meetings to mean an upgrade on traditional phone calls. For recruiters, this means a chance to add an additional personal dimension to conversations, breaking the ice more effectively and ‘putting a face to a name’ in a way that was previously reserved for in-person meetings. Switching to video can help make remote calls feel more natural and establish a stronger rapport than via voice alone. Just don’t ask your customers to turn their cameras on if they haven’t offered – everyone’s ‘home working’ setup is different, and nobody likes to be caught unprepared! ***** ISV.Online is the leading supplier of skills testing software and services to the UK Recruitment Industry. Used by 9 of the top 10 UK agencies, by number of offices, and 7 of the top 10, by revenue, ISV.Online offers candidate skills assessment and evaluation software and online training tools, allowing agencies and in-house HR/recruitment teams to validate the skills of potential candidates and existing employees across a wide range of areas.