Case Study: Solo Recruiter Wins His First Retainer Worth £35k (c$56k)

Case Study: Solo Recruiter in London Wins His First Retainer Worth £35,000 (c$56,000)

In this 17-minute Audio Case Study, London based headhunter Rupert Price reveals exactly how he won his first retainer worth £35,000 (about $56,000 USD at the time).  Listen-in as I interview Rupert and he breaks down the key steps he followed.

BONUS: Rupert has a simple, yet highly effective, strategy for generating warm leads via LinkedIn.  Listen carefully as he shares the ​exact wording of the Inmail message which generates a 20-30% response!

​Listening Notes

  • [​2:50] How Rupert won his first retainer with a brand new client.
  • [7:30] The email template Rupert uses to secure meetings with senior decision-makers via LinkedIn without cold calling.  This message gets a whopping 20-30% response — LISTEN carefully, because Rupert gives you the exact wording.
  • [12:06] Using content marketing (blogging + automated email marketing) to generate 25 leads per week, stay “front of mind” and position himself as the ‘Go-To’ recruiter in his niche.   

Want the full story?  You can read the detailed Case Study below…


​When Rupert called me, he was very clear what he wanted from a coach:

  1. Transition from contingency to retained search
  2. Create a recurring, predictable revenue stream by building an Interim desk
  3. Replace cold calling with attraction marketing and generate warm leads


​Here are some of the roadblocks that Rupert faced in achieving his objectives – I suspect you can relate to many of them:

  • As a solo recruiter, he was competing with much larger headhunting firms.
  • His clients and prospects are big companies, many are quoted on the stock exchange.  Their HR and Internal Recruitment functions are well established, and like to control the hiring process.  Yet to sell Retained Search, he would need pitch directly to the senior hiring managers.
  • All his potential clients already had Preferred Supplier Agreements in place, and long-standing relationships with other headhunters.  He would need to bypass the PSL and convince clients to give him the business exclusively, instead of the firms they already knew and trusted.
  • As a very experienced and highly regarded recruiter, Rupert had built his business on the 4 R’s: reputation, relationships, referrals and repeat business.  However his website was very basic and he lacked any kind of digital marketing strategy.  He understood the power of permission marketing, but didn’t know where to start.

The Solution

Step One – We created Rupert’s Value Proposition / Differentiators and “packaged” his retained search service, so he could easily explain to clients what they would receive and articulate the benefits / advantages over contingency recruitment.

Step Two – We developed and enhanced Rupert’s solution selling skills, especially the key sales questions to ask in order to “diagnose” the client’s problems (needs) and uncover where they’re feeling the pain, so the client would then be receptive to hearing Rupert’s “prescription” (solution) for curing their headache.

Step Three – We expanded and refined the process as we went along, and rehearsed answers to common objections (e.g. “what happens if I pay you a retainer and you don’t deliver?”).  I also gave Rupert the outline for his first Retained Search proposal and critiqued several versions of the document until he had a winning proposal.

Step Four – I referred Rupert to a team in India who could build his new website very cost effectively and advised him what pages / content he would need.  I briefed him on how to outsource all the “techie” stuff so he could focus on revenue generating activities.

Step Five – I ​guided Rupert step-by-step through the process of assembling his attraction marketing campaign, putting all the elements in place to generate warm leads and follow up with them automatically.  Some of the “pieces of the jigsaw puzzle” included: lead magnets, landing pages, opt-in / lead capture forms, email marketing platforms, importing contact lists, autoresponder sequences, HTML email templates and personalized email broadcasts.

Step Six – As Rupert launched and rolled out his marketing campaign, I continued supporting his efforts, critiquing his landing page layout and copy, answering questions and giving feedback until he had it running like a well-oiled machine.

If any of this marketing terminology is new to you, don’t worry – it was new to Rupert as well, but he picked it up very quickly.  If you get in touch I’ll be happy to talk you through it.


In the interview, you’ll hear me ask Rupert what he’s achieved in the 6 months since we started working together. Here’s his answer: 

  • Launched a brand new, mobile responsive website that enhances his credibility and generates warm leads on autopilot
  • Doubled his email distribution list from 1000 to 2000 contacts
  • Wrote 40 blog articles and developed a Content Marketing strategy to build his brand and position himself as the expert authority in his market niche
  • Implemented an automated “lead nurture” email marketing campaign to stay front of mind with everyone in his network
  • Grew his Interim desk from zero to £2.5k/week – including one contract worth £1375 per week
  • Won his first retained assignment worth £35,000 (c$56,000 USD), and has two more in the pipeline.  Crucially, he now has a clearly defined process for selling retained search, and a robust proposal template, so he can duplicate this result again and again.

Book a FREE Strategy Session with Mark Whitby

If you’re a recruiting firm owner, and are looking for a fresh perspective on how to increase revenues and grow your business, then let’s talk.

The 30-min Strategy Session is free, with no strings attached.  But spaces are limited, so apply now.​


Recommended Reading
  • SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham
  • Permission Marketing by Seth Godin

Rupert PriceI successfully recruit Commercial Directors for Main Contractors in Utilities, Infrastructure and Built Environment

“I would highly recommend Mark – I had a 6 month stint with him with the aim of starting an Interim desk and winning my first retainer. Both were achieved. Job done. Thanks Mark.”

Request a Free Strategy Session with Mark