Pandora’s box of ROI – a recruitment marketers quest

Ok, so I’m sat at my desk on a Thursday lunchtime, having just spent an hour trying to work out the true ‘cost per hire’ of some of the placements we’ve made at SEC since the beginning of the year. I’ve got my marketing budget spreadsheet open and Broadbean (multi-job posting tool for those that don’t know) primed and ready to review some of the job boards and effectiveness of the consultants’ advertising, as well as my Bullhorn (our company CRM) source tracking report minimised on my desktop ready to be referenced. We’ve spent a fair few months talking to the sales team about making accurate source tracking a key part of their processes and they’re all doing a pretty good job at filling in the details accurately, I have to say.

So now it’s just a case of putting all of those numbers together to work out the average values of placements, the cost of the job board, or the website costs, or LinkedIn Recruiter licences, right? Simples, right?

Hmm, you’d think so, but it’s not quite as easy as that.

That’s where Rich, our loveable IT manager, who sits near me enters this particular story. You see Rich is a stickler for detail and as I’m sure he won’t mind me pointing out, he loves to explain that detail in…well…more detail. I was chatting through this particular ROI review I was looking. Rich listened intently, throwing in the occasional nod, before pausing in his philosophical way and asking me “But have we thought about the desk costs in those total costs? You know, the cost of running the PCs, phone lines, internet, etc?” he says. And it’s at that point that Pandora’s box creaks open and once Rich and I have had a peak in to the great abyss, we know there’s a heck a lot of other considerations to be made before we can count the true ROI and cost of a placement made.

What about the cost of having a consultant man that desk? or the fact that they use Broadbean? Or that some of them will have spent hours sourcing and headhunting for a role, whilst others might have had a relatively streamlined process because perhaps they wrote an effective job ad that got a load of great responses? Some have access to job boards that others don’t, because it’s not relevant to their market, so how do we calculate that? And what about the fact that consultants, resourcers, sales managers all earn different salaries? And their different commission structures? How can you accurately measure the cost of a hire on a macro, company-wide basis when there are so many variables that need to be taken in to consideration?

It’s not only that though. What about the work that was needed to bring in that particular client beforehand? The pitch from our CEO and Strategic Key Accounts Director, the prep for the pitch, the meetings, the analysis, etc, all before we’ve even got to the point of the hiring manager firing across that initial spec to one of our team?

I got a bit of a headache thinking about it if I’m honest. The ten year old version of me wanted to throw down my calculator and tell Rich I’d had enough and was going home to watch Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors. But the adult in me knew that it would only irk me more if I didn’t at least have a go at finding a workable solution (also that Jayce wasn’t on TV any more, sadly).

I came to the conclusion that the reality of any recruitment business, is that determining exact value of ROI either takes a very very  long time to work out the value of every single placement, or you have to make some assumptions and work out some mean averages for your business if you want to be able to have a pretty good guess at determining the exact ROI on your activity.

But more than that, and my central point to this cobbled together collective of thoughts, is that you need to make sure you have a pretty darn good relationship with your sales floor as a marketer. Because that is what is going to get you as close to determining true ROI as you can possibly be. In my instance it was about working out how many hours – through physical conversations and discussions with multiple people on the sales floor – our people spend making sure they can get the right candidate for the role they are working on.

It turns out a lot.

There’s a lot of work that goes behind that candidate rocking up for their first interview and quantifying that is no easy task because there are a lot of component parts. But by spending the time with the consultants, by digging deep in to their processes, I was able to get some really good insight in to their time and also start to put some actual numbers on the ROI we generate as a business when we make a sale.

And that is probably one of the best pieces of advice I could give to any marketer, anywhere, in any industry. Get close to your sales floor. Talk to them all the time. Ask them for help. Get them to provide you with intel. Develop good relationships and make sure you leverage those relationships when you’re looking for qualitative or quantitative data to support your work. If you do you’ll find that despite the fact some of them are as busy as you, if you’ve got a good enough working relationship then they’ll be as happy to help you as you are to be helped.

There will be some who may be reading this and thinking “alright for you mate, but you work for a smaller company who has one office where you can walk to people’s desks to ask them, but my company are on multiple sites and I’m based at head office”. Well, unto thee I say merrily, that I’ve done that too and developing relationships with certain advocates in branches across the land helped me to no end. In one of my previous lives in recruitment I worked for a multinational organisation but I still had a group of about 12 ‘advocates’ that I could call on whenever I wanted and they would always support. I was able to get data, insight and determine ROI not through delving deeper into my spreadsheets, but by calling on the relationships I had with these individuals.

Getting that intel from your sales floor isn’t full proof – it can’t be when you are dealing with humans – but it will give you a darn sight more confidence that what you are doing is working (or not working). So use the people in your business to determine ROI.