How to Break PSLs – Read this before your competitors do!

Some of you may have encountered organisations who have PSLs. Some of the people you have spoken to in those businesses may have even told you that they have a preferred suppliers list. On some occasions it may even be that you told them they had one!

Consultant: “How do you normally recruit into your department?”

Client: “We have a couple of agencies that we use regularly”

Consultant: “You have a PSL then I take it?”

Client: “What’s one of those?”

Consultant: “A preferred suppliers list?!”

Client: “Oh, I see, I guess yes we do have one of those.”

See what I mean? Ever heard yourself do something similar? It’s easy to do because it seems many consultants are looking for the PSL objection. As they seek to find it they do, by giving it to the client.

Crack the PSL with recruitment advice from ZENRecently in training I have likened how consultants appear to hold the PSL up as the toughest objection and that any client who has one clearly isn’t going to use any other supplier! This clearly is not the case. In the UK 70% of organisations currently have a regular or “preferred” supplier of recruitment services. Within these users, 80% have had to source candidates from other suppliers during the past 12 months. When I ask consultants if they have ever seen a PSL most have not. Next time you go out to see a client ask to see their PSL. Given how they are so feared and revered if you are expecting the client to take you to their basement to look at an object similar to The Ark of the Covenant from Raiders of the Lost Ark you are going to be disappointed. In my experience if they have one it is a piece of paper. Much like a wedding certificate! The piece of paper itself does not denote fidelity. It’s the strength of the relationship, the level of trust and feeling of contentment that creates fidelity. How many clients have that level of relationship with their suppliers?

Let’s not make it out to be something that it is not. So how can we crack a client account where they have a PSL in place?

Wait until the client tells you they have a PSL. There is really no need to make the job harder by putting words into their mouth. Once you have established how they recruit they may well volunteer that they have a single/couple/selection of suppliers. At this point ask questions to discover the strength of those relationships:

  • When was the last time they benchmarked the quality of candidates they get from their PSL from another supplier?
  • Who are those suppliers?
  • How long have they used them?
  • What types of role do they use each supplier for?
  • How many positions did they give them over the past 12 months?
  • How many did they fill?
  • What made them choose that supplier(s)?
  • How could they make the service even better?
  • What has been the hardest position they have had to fill in the last 12 months?
  • When was the last time they went outside of their chosen suppliers?
  • What would they do if they did not come up with the right quality or quantity of candidates in the future?

Once you have got the answers to these you can then be in a position to set some realistic outcomes. Do I actually want to be on the PSL or would I prefer not to be? Do I want to be a supplier alongside their current suppliers? Do I want to recommend they use just one supplier instead of wasting their time with several? Do I want to position myself for one off hard to fill niche positions their current suppliers may struggle to fulfill?

The choice is yours. They key is to recognise you have that choice and not be put off by the fact that the client has a “PSL”. Any client is going to want to reduce their recruiting time without impacting on the quality of their candidates. Why call three or more suppliers on one vacancy when a single supplier could provide you with all you are looking for....