From Failure to Success in Recruitment Sales – Free Version for 2022 – Part One

From Failure to Success in Recruitment Sales

Free Version for 2022

Part One


Bob Marshall

(June 21, 2022)

The Three Learning Curves

When we begin our recruitment careers, we are faced with three learning curves.  First, we have to learn the tools of our recruiting profession.  Second, we need to learn the lexicon of our niche specialty.  And third, we need to learn general selling skills.  This article will deal with that third learning curve.

Selling as Packaging

I believe that effective selling is merely telling the truth in an attractive manner.  I know that some people think that ‘sales’ is a dirty word.  It’s not!  In our profession, it is merely the more attractively packaging of our candidates and our job orders.  I never advocate trying to talk people into doing something that they truly don’t want to do, or is not in their best self-interest to do.  That would be unethical and unprofessional and, ultimately, wouldn’t work anyway.  In my mind, selling is merely packaging.  It is an attempt to demonstrate the value in our product and service in an appealing fashion.  Think of it this way:  When I am presenting you a gift, I can toss it to you unwrapped and say, “Here’s your gift” or I can carefully wrap it in pretty paper and put a big bow on it and gently proffer it to you.  Which gift do you think has the greater value?  I contend it is the one that I wrapped.  Think of sales presentations in this way.  Our presentations are carefully wrapped like precious gifts.  And the best, most successful, salespeople always gift-wrap!

Frank Bettger

One of my favorite recruiters suggested that I read the seminal sales book, How I Raised Myself From Failure To Success In Selling, by Frank Bettger.  I am embarrassed to say that I had never read this book before.  As I read chapter after chapter it dawned on me that this book was the foundation on which many of the more contemporary sales trainers built their training.  In my career in recruitment, my sales training was based on the words of Tommy Hopkins, Cavett Roberts and Zig Ziglar.  Upon reading Bettger’s book, I realized that those trainers had first learned their techniques from the one trainer who had preceded them all—Frank Bettger!

When I finished this very instructional book, I thought about how beneficial it would be if I could update all of Mr. Bettger’s ideas and relate them to our current world of recruitment.  I will attempt to do that right now.

From Failure to Success in Selling

 “The most helpful and inspiring book on salesmanship that I have ever read”

—Dale Carnegie

Here are the individual book parts and chapters (bold) and my short notes on each (in italics).  After the notes, I will add my comments (normal text) as to how those sections relate to our profession.  Enjoy.

Part 1 – These Ideas Lifted Me Out of the Ranks of Failure

1.  How one idea multiplied my income and happiness

Enthusiasm is the biggest single factor in successful selling.  To become enthusiastic—act enthusiastic.

*One of the great sales trainers, Steven Brown, teaches us that the right attitude, which all big billers possess, is comprised of two elements:  Enthusiasm and Self-Confidence.  He continues that enthusiasm has two sources: 1. Product Knowledge (knowing what we are selling); this involves a detailed understanding of the specialty niche in which we recruit and the candidates who populate that area.  And 2. Knowing what we can do for others (knowing the miracles we can perform for our clients and candidates; how we can help them).  After all, we change lives for the better, on a daily basis.  We help both our client companies and our placed candidates to become more successful quicker.

2.  This idea put me back into selling after I had quit

This business of selling narrows down to one thing—just one thing…seeing the people!  The whole business of selling is making the Calls!  And keeping records of those calls is essential; without records, we have no way of know what we are doing wrong.

*Over the years, big billers have given me many different pieces of advice, but the one piece of advice they have in common is this:  Tell your students to pick up the phone and speak into it.  Something good will happen if they just do this simple action.  Or, put another way, I can’t guarantee you many things in recruitment, but I can guarantee you this.  That every company you don’t call, you will not place with!

3.  One thing I did that helped me destroy the biggest enemy I ever had to face

The best way I ever found to help overcome fear and rapidly develop courage and self-confidence is by speaking before groups.  When you lose your fear of speaking to an audience, you lose your fear of talking to individuals, no matter how big and important they are.

*Fear is real.  But don’t let fear control your actions—embrace your fear.  As Eddie Rickenbacker said, “Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do.  There can be no courage unless you’re scared.”

Each call you make will be easier than the last.  It will take some time, but “steel” yourself to do it.  Think of it this way:  If your presentation numbers are low now, then doubling or tripling them will be a snap—it is just a function of committing to the numbers necessary and then doing them.  Remember, you are trying to establish new, good habits and we know that your actions will become your habits.  And, not only will this make you more profitable, but it will also make you proud of yourself for doing it.

In the words of Teddy Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States, as quoted in Citizen in a Republic, April 23, 1910, “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

4.  The only way I could get myself organized

Effective planning takes time and may require four or five solid hours of the most intensive kind of work.  Set aside Saturday morning and call it “self-organization day.”  Develop a “Weekly Work Sheet” like IBM.  IBM considers this their number-one tool and it must be completed by the salesmen, giving the names of all the people they plan to see during the coming week, and a copy must be turned over to the IBM sales supervisors in advance of each week’s work.

The whole secret of freedom from anxiety over not having enough time lies not in working more hours, but in the proper planning of the hours you work.

* I believe in “Daily Planners” because they work.  I like the paper format, but am fine with the electronic versions as well as long as they are founded on multi-tasking and are modularized.

When I say that the planner should be founded on multi-tasking, I mean that I want to encourage my recruiters to move freely within the call depending on how the call naturally unfolds.  I learned long ago that sometimes marketing turns into recruiting and recruiting turns into marketing.  And so, my planner is multi-task oriented which enables my recruiters to get the most out of each call.

At least five (5) possibilities exist on each call:  You can Direct Market, Indirect Market, Direct Recruit, Indirect Recruit and Information Gather.  This allows you to get something positive out of each call, which in turn encourages you to rush right into your next call.  It’s all a cascade of successes that further anchors in your subconscious mind that this business is a lot of fun!  Not only does this work, but the top recruiters found this out a long time ago, and that’s why they make this business look so easy.  As a travelling trainer, I would sit at their desks and take notes.  Let me tell you this, top recruiters are masters of multi-tasking.  And for them, this business is a whole lot of fun!

My planners are based on a three-month period – thirteen (13) weeks.  Each planner has one hundred and thirty-two (132) pages – or enough for two pages (four sides) per day for the 64-66 workdays in each quarter.

I have constructed my planner so that ninety-four (94) calls per day are possible.  My recommendation, however, is to pre-plan about 6-10 calls in each “hour” block to allow yourself free time within each hour to be reactive (call backs, suggestion calls, new ideas, etc.).  It is more fun that way—also more creative and more profitable!

Every day at planning time you will plan for your next day.  During this hour (sometimes longer) you will enter into the planner what you will be doing the following day.  This function is CRITICAL to your success!

The planner will allow you to break your day into hour modules and blitz during each of those one-hour blocks of time.  Industrial Engineers tell us that human beings work more efficiently when their workloads are broken down into small blocks of time—as little as 15 minute blocks of time.  For our purposes, I like one-hour modules so my planner has eight (8) of those to correspond to a normal daily eight (8) hour working schedule.

…That’s it for Part I.  Next Tuesday I will send you Part II of my article entitled the Formula for Success in Selling, Chapters 5-13.  So, stay tuned…


Bob Marshall began his recruiting career over 40 years ago at MR in Reno, NV.  In 1986 he established The Bob Marshall Group, International, where he has trained recruiters throughout the United States but also in the United Kingdom, Malta and Cyprus.  With a dedication for executive recruiting, he continues to offer his proven training systems to individuals, firms and private corporations both domestic and in select international territories.  To learn more about his activities and descriptions of his products and services, contact him directly @770-898-5550;; or visit his website @