This is a question we are asked every day and although there is never a perfect answer, there are definitely some key factors that we have learned in the last few years.
The first point is you should use a recruitment agency only if you are serious and wish to engage with them. Sounds obvious but this is really important as otherwise no-one will obtain the results they are seeking. Normally, recruitment is based on commission on placement and, as such, it is a free service until the point when a candidate starts. Whilst this is the industry norm, there is still a lot of work that takes place so it is only fair to your organisation and the agency, that you are willing to at least engage with them at some level.
Then ultimately it is using an agency to find you great candidates that you can’t find yourselves. Everyone can post a job online and surely you don’t need an agency to replicate something you are capable easily of doing already. So, challenge them to find you that great sales candidate who has amazing skills and attitude but may not be in your comp set.
Then the next point is more consultative. What else can your agency provide to you other than just fulfilling a job order? Hopefully, they will be able to understand the needs of your business and advise on the best way to move forward. What is the market doing at the moment? How can you provide an innovative solution to your staffing problem? Do you really need another sales manager?
Agencies should be in it for the long term and as such they should want to create a partnership arrangement with you. They should be a valuable source of information, advise and independent opinion. Even better, you don’t even need to pay for it (at least in a direct way.)