Written by Jessica L. Sanchez, Marketing Director
Earning your latte in the staffing industry
One of my favorite films of all time is Glengarry Glen Ross. I remember watching it when I was 13 and being absolutely mesmerized by the dialogue and the desperation of the characters to achieve success in the gritty world of real estate sales. The indelible character, “Blake” (who is wonderfully played by Alec Baldwin), delivers a memorable speech spiced with expletives which begins when he denies Jack Lemmon a cup of the office coffee exclaiming, “Coffee is for closers!” However, my favorite line is where he simply states, “You wanna work here? Close!!” Easy enough, right? Most likely not so easy when it comes to the staffing industry, a US industry that is growing and is projected to reach $115 billion by the end of 2015. So, what tools do you need to develop and fine tune in order to ensure that you get and deserve that coffee at the end of the day?
Who would you like to speak to?
From time to time, I will receive a call from a staffing company. It’s usually a salesperson looking to speak with a hiring manager to whom they can sell their services over the phone. Having paid my own dues cold calling in my salad days, pity will influence me to take the call and kindly tell that person that I’m not a hiring manager. I would sometimes pass along the salesperson’s contact information to our actual hiring manager if we were in fact looking to expand our team. However, more often than not, I quickly forgot about the call.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the task of differentiating yourself when you are calling on a prospect. My first piece of very simple advice would be: Know who you need to contact! As my experiences taking calls from salespeople will tell you, it’s a valuable thing to do a little research before calling a company. If those callers took the three minutes to cyber stalk me on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook they would not only learn that I photograph badly but also that I am a Marketing Director and therefore not the right person to talk to about staffing services and recruiting. Take the time to call the company you’re targeting and ask for the hiring manager’s name if your Google searches fail you. I firmly believe that there is always a way to find the person you need. Back when I was charged with the task of selling marketing data and was given absolutely NO leads, I taught myself how to stealthily find out who I needed to get in front of. It took some time and some awkward phone calls at first (“Good Afternoon, would you mind reminding me who the account manager is for Starbucks? I met her on a flight from LA and I completely forgot her name….oh his name is Henry…riiiight…” Sometimes it’s hard and takes time but it’s far better to put in a little effort at the beginning to ensure you speak to that right person in the very first call to the prospect rather than possibly doing a lot of legwork in the wrong direction.
Solve the problem, don’t offer lip service
No one wants to be sold and no one wants to feel like they’re being fooled. So why would you tell a prospective client that your staffing company delivers “excellent service” and that you have “quality candidates”? The person you’re calling just heard that from the last staffing company. Think of something else. You’re competing in a market that’s not only growing but is also highly commoditized. You must differentiate your company’s offerings in a sea of providers making the same claims as you, but how?
The best advice I can give here is to position your company as a solutions provider. Companies and their human resources departments have issues, real problems that require solving. This allows you the opportunity to sell your staffing company not as just a simple service provider among many others, but as a problem solver in the workforce management process. Make your company a leader by illustrating to your prospect the merits of your staffing company. Finding the right employee is more than just checking boxes and emailing resumes, it’s finding the perfect employee for your client’s current void and making sure the candidate exceeds expectations. Find out what your client wants in a candidate and also, any issues they had with past employees. You are now the fixer, the one who provides solutions and not just a staffing company. You’re going to remedy any issues your prospect had in the past by providing the best candidate and you’re going to earn and keep their business.
People actually like a “know-it-all”
I think there is nothing more valuable in any sales position than being seen by clients and prospects as an expert. Most marketing people know and use the term “thought leader” a lot and it basically just means that not only do you know your industry but you can also help your clients navigate it with the help of your expertise. Whether you place locum tenens in hospitals or help to staff red carpet events, make sure that you know any and all trends and data relating to your particular niche in the staffing industry. Arm yourself with knowledge as it’s a tool that clients find very memorable.
A client will see you as a valuable partner in achieving success if you can prove you have the necessary wisdom to share with your clients. You’re no longer someone just aiming to sell and be done with it. You’re now a trusted partner who also has your client’s best interest in mind and want to ensure your client is abreast of any and all developments in their industry.
I know that sales can sometimes be a rough gig, especially if you’re selling staffing services. It can also be a rewarding experience if you realize how to win the favor of your prospect. Much like a house, a strong and well-planned foundation will ensure for a sturdy structure. So make sure you’ve done your homework, not only within your particular staffing specialization but also about the company you’re reaching out to. Illustrate for the prospect how your company can help to achieve goals and that you can be trusted to keep them informed. Putting this advice into practice will not only ensure you gain the respect of your targeted prospects but also their valuable business.