By: Dan Fisher
I believe the staffing industry is on the road to recovery. Budgets are slowly opening up. Job orders and interview activity are also picking up pace. As a result, there are a lot of hungry sales professionals in the industry ready to start making placements. The question is -- are you prepared to deliver? Here are six tactics to keep in mind to help you capitalize on a recovering employment market.
1. Understand the Market Clients have put a number of different projects and initiatives on hold for the past year or more, resulting in a massive pent-up demand.
Key Takeaway: Find out what "pent-up demand" resides within your client accounts. Help them deliver by understanding their sourcing plan and establishing your bullpen of candidates. Talk to your customers (managers, directors and VP's) about what their customers are asking of them -- but they have not yet figured out how to deliver. Ask them what areas (product or service lines) they expect to see the growth in and why.
2. Recruiters: Come Out Of Hibernation In a down economy, the pressure is on sales to generate job orders. That means recruiting takes a back seat, while recruiters tend to go into hibernation, become passive and thus lose their edge. As the market starts to turn and the volume of job orders picks up, the pressure will fall on recruiters to fill all the open job orders.
Key Takeaway: Stay in touch with your candidates on a daily or weekly basis. Create a list (physical or within your CRM system) of your "in high demand" candidates who you believe will be looking to change employers in the next 30, 60 and 90 days. Talk (not just email, it's too passive) with these candidates on a regular basis. Their situation can change on a moment's notice. Build relationships with your candidates to the point where they're comfortable in opening up and being honest with you. This is the difference between recruiting and simply sourcing candidates.
3. Recruit Candidates When a recession hits, employees naturally become fearful of losing their jobs. They do everything they can to keep their job and survive layoffs. Actually surviving a company layoff, especially multiple layoffs, can be demoralizing. For these survivors, it’s very common to want to make a move to a new company when the economy rebounds. These candidates, who are often top notch and in high demand, are typically not working with a recruiter.
Key Takeaway: Proactively recruit and tap into the hidden pool of candidates who have patiently waited for the market to turn. They need a recruiter to help them make the next step in their career. This is the talent your clients are seeking, not those who have recently been out of work.
4. Skill Market Candidates: Assuming you have completed the above tactics, you're now ready to “skill market” candidates to your prospects and clients. What do I mean? I’m not talking about matching buzzwords on a resume with buzzwords on a job description. What I'm referring to is actually selling the business results that your candidate has delivered for their past employers. You need to demonstrate how they can deliver the same or similar business results for your client. Focus the conversation on what the company was able to do as a result of your candidate’s work, instead of their individual skill set. You can sell skills when the customer asks. Instead, propose a more strategic, holistic solution.
Key Takeaway: Understand the solutions that your candidate has delivered for past employers. Find customers/prospects who struggle with the same or similar problems and sell your candidate as a solution.
5. Align Sales & Recruiting: A common mistake that I often see within staffing companies, especially those selling professional staffing (scientific, IT, engineering, etc.), is a lack of alignment between the sales team and the delivery (recruiting) team. As a result you have sales people generating job orders for candidates that the recruiting team doesn’t have on hand. At the brink of a recovery, it's more important than ever for sales and recruiting to work closely together to ensure that their strategies mirror one another.
Key Takeaway: Bring sales and recruiting together for a strategy meeting to align recruitment goals. When the market does turn and hiring budgets open up, it will be a feeding frenzy for staffing companies. Make sure your company is properly aligned internally to meet this demand.
6. Cross-Sell Existing Accounts: We all know it's easier to get more business from a current customer than it is from a new customer. But many in the staffing industry do a poor job of executing this strategy. I’ve found that selling to companies as they are coming out of their "shell" can often present a great opportunity. Once one group gets the green light to hire, a ripple effect takes hold and other departments start to hire as well. It's up to us to identify those departments and hiring managers.
Key Takeaway: Create an organizational chart that includes VP's, directors and managers (and team leads, if need be) within your customer accounts. Make sure to account for every potential ordering source. Ask your best customers to facilitate introductions (not just referrals) to other contacts. By building relationships with your potential ordering sources (as well as non-ordering sources) you will gain a holistic view of your customers and better understand their business. In turn, this will allow you to deliver higher quality candidates that can meet their business needs. These conversations will help you build a pipeline of opportunities and drive your recruiting and sales efforts.
Dan Fisher is a fourteen year sales veteran and thought leader in the IT staffing and consulting industry. Dan provides one-on-one sales coaching and mentoring and training workshops. In September 2008, he authored the IT Staffing Sales Plan, the only proprietary methodology dedicated exclusively to selling IT staffing services. That same year Dan founded the Menemsha Group, which is dedicated to helping IT staffing and recruiting industry professionals sell more effectively, differentiate from the competition and increase gross profit margins. Dan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.