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February 19, 2004
Turn Your Fall-Offs Into Cash!
by Scott Love,

The toughest part of this business is dealing with the down side: fall-offs. You've invested not only the hours, but the emotional commitment and intensity required to put the deal together, and you discover that it fell apart.

Here's how you can turn your fall-offs, candidate rejections, counteroffers, and unpleasant client surprises into a source of positive cash flow: conduct deal autopsies.

You've done the work and have nothing to show for it. Might as well make a buck off of it. Let's just use this situation to our advantage. After you call your spouse for a hug over the phone and regain your mental state, write down all of the things that went wrong. What specifically happened? What should have happened? Now take this information to your next weekly training meeting with your staff and have deal autopsies as a regular part of your training. Here's how to do it:

  1. Have one of your co-workers serve as the facilitator and the recruiter whose deal fell apart is the deal owner. Everyone else will be investigators, conspiring together to uncover the real cause of the catastrophe and offering ideas that could have kept the event from occurring.

  2. The facilitator makes sure that one person doesn't monopolize the conversation and makes sure that this training exercise is a free exchange of ideas, not an inquisition.

  3. First, the deal owner gives a two minute overview of the situation, sharing from this ten-point checklist:
    1. the search assignment position and client company.
    2. the client representative title and quality of relationship, including past searches.
    3. Candidate overview (current position and current tenure) and quality of relationship (first timer? Retread?)
    4. Candidate motivation to make the move.
    5. Concerns originally raised by candidate.
    6. Concerns originally raised (about the candidate) by the client.
    7. Other candidate interviewing activity.
    8. Process of presentation, time between interviews and offers.
    9. How the offer was given and accepted.
    10. How the resignation was turned in and received.
  4. Investigative Questions: three minutes. Next, the investigators spend five minutes and ask the deal owner investigative questions following W5H: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? The investigators ask questions one at a time for investigative purposes, not solution purposes. During this time, the facilitator must make sure that not more than one question is asked at a time by the investigators and that feedback isn't given during this time. The investigator asks the question, the owner responds, and the next person asks and so forth. The timekeeper must make sure that this time does not exceed five minutes.

  5. Solutions and feedback: five minutes Five more minutes is spent with each person giving one piece of advice regarding the issue. Feedback isn't discussed at this time. The issue owner writes down each item from the investigators, and puts a star next to each one where he wishes elaboration and discussion. Each investigator should only give one piece of input, then the next person and so on. This continues until five minutes is up or everyone has given all their input.

  6. Discussion. Five minutes. During this time the deal owner opens up discussion and clarification on the items given during the solutions and feedback session that were most intriguing or require clarification.

  7. Wrap-up. Two minutes. The owner or manager in the room (who has so far let the team facilitate this meeting) implements or encourages policy changes based upon the deal autopsy.

You're done. In seventeen minutes you have used a catastrophic event to improve the process so that it minimizes the likelihood of this mistake being repeated. My friend Jeffrey Gitomer, who owns a large sales training company in Charlotte, rewards his employees $100 each time they make a mistake. There's nothing wrong with mistakes, as long as you learn from them. Consider this exercise a way to make sure that you learn from each fall-off for the rest of your career.

Copright © 2004 Scott Love.

  About the Author
Scott Love, of The Academy of Recruiting Mastery
Scott Love is the most frequently published trainer in the industry and also the wackiest. He speaks in the areas of executive search, sales, and leadership development. Scott is the author of two books (with one in the oven), has a weekly business column in the Gannett news service, a monthly column in the Fordyce Letter, is published monthly in national trade association magazines (both in and out of the industry), and has been quoted in major city dailies, the Wall Street Journal, and international business magazines. You may contact Scott via email at or visit his site at

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