Thatís the beginning of a poem given to me many years ago by a senior sales executive.
"When things go wrong as they sometimes will.
When the road youíre trudging seems all up hill
ÖAND you want to smile, but you have to sigh.
When care is pressing you down a bit, rest if you must, but donít you quit."
Perhaps you have never been through a downturn in the business climate. Perhaps you are feeling frustrated, disappointed or disillusioned. Well, welcome to the club. To say that business conditions are challenging may be an understatement to you right now. Sorry, there is no magic bullet, BUT you can take charge and move forward each and every day. Letís start that journey by taking a look at how the pros work in either good or bad times.
I asked several Staffing industry veterans to share some insights and anecdotes with me. WOW, did I get some gems to pass along to you!
Jean Gustafson of Tech Resource in Norwood, MA shared the following nuggets. A very successful recruiter that she knew has 6 variations of opening comments written out and taped to one of those photo cubes. While she dials away the cube is rotated so that she always has a fresh approach to use. This keeps her phone presentation fresh all day long. I hope that you have a few scripts that you developed or at the very least have high impact key words posted in front of you when you are on the phone. You work so hard to even connect with a live person why risk winging it when you have a prospect on the line?
Jean also shared this observation. Itís the person in the office who always seems to have that headset on talking to prospects that succeeds and excels. A gentleman that she once worked with came in each morning and started dialing. At mid-day he would take a two-hour break to run, shower and have lunch. Then it was back on the phone until the end of the day. What a way to work on your professional and your personal objectives each day. Develop your very own disciplined and balanced work routine. That will serve you well.
This is also the time to implement a strategy to call on senior executives within your target accounts and prospects. The involvement of company executives along with the local branch representatives is necessary to raise a clientís awareness of your potential value as the supplier of mission critical talent to their organization. We are in a service business. If you are not adding value, especially in a down economy, why does the client need you or your company?
Brenan German, Human Capital Consultant based in Tustin, CA works with Staffing firms to help them reposition themselves with key clients. He thinks that more staffing companies must sit with their clients and intimately understand their hiring strategy. That way the staffing company can be involved in helping to shape that strategy. A consultative approach will build some exclusivity and deepen or establish a partnering relationship with the client. "Corporations have begun comprehensive reviews of their conventional staffing strategies," says Brenan. You are the staffing expert. Help your client, that is how to add value.
"...Life is queer with its twists and turns, as everyone of us sometimes learns, and many a failure turns about. When he might have won had he stuck it out: Donít give up when the pace seems slow...you may succeed with another blow."
Take a Meta-View of your business opportunities. A Meta-View is Coach Speak for imagining that you are hovering in a helicopter over yourself and the current situation. From there you can see all the issues and perhaps see new opportunities. Change in a clientís business climate is the driver of opportunity for the Staffing industry. Yet, we are the most surprised when the change impacts us! Go figure. Now we are dealing with fewer job orders and lots of qualified candidates. How will you get an increase in good job orders?
"We have got to employ new tactics," says Tammy Glivinski of SWS Consulting in Chester, New Hampshire. She went on to state that clients are finding candidates in new ways. They are using the job boards, and hiring in-house recruiters to help them to staff up. Some clients are out there networking with potential candidates. SWS places high-end consultants who are also highly skilled and in demand. Partnering with similar firms is paying off with more placements. ďItís like Supply Chain management for Human Capital,Ē according to Tammy. She also pointed out that many clients are outsourcing their IT needs. We canít change that fact, BUT we can place consultants by partnering with IT Solutions companies who deliver Outsourcing.
Providing solutions to clientsí problems is how you will drive your business opportunities. Simply filling job orders or just getting consultants a job is not a compelling reason for someone to do business with you or your firm. Partner with clients, Add Value to them and their organization, get those consultants great jobs at good companies and you have a winning formula.
It might also be time to cross the imaginary line between Recruiter and Business Development Managers. The tables have turned rather abruptly. Recruiters can help to increase the number of good job orders. They have strong relationships with people that have been placed in either a permanent or a contract job. Those people should be getting your call to arrange a face-to-face meeting. Meet them for lunch or coffee at the place where they work. Bring your Business Development Manager or Branch Manager along with you. "Face Time" is the best way to renew or enhance the relationship. This is how you can find out what is going on at the client site or who may be hiring soon. If you are truly a team, then do what it takes to be a winning team! Business Development Managers should also be meeting with the consultants who are working at client sites. Drop off a paycheck or deliver pizza on a Friday.
Several of the folks that I spoke with mentioned the need to be persistent and focused on the basics. I want to add that it is also important to be consistent. Keep you attitude and your activity high. Establish goals and a work routine to support those goals.
In the book "How to be Like Mike: lessons about Basket Ballís Best" author Pat Williams looks at Michael Jordanís skills in developing concentration. "He had a routine and nothing could break it. He was never late for practice and did routine things the same way every day. Having a solid routine when it came to everyday activities helped Jordan zero in on the more important jobs he had to do." Other key success traits that Williams mentions are Jordanís ability to live in the moment only. "If it was the second quarter then thatís where Michaelís mind was. He was about right now. Next weekís game will take care of itself." Mr. Williams also shares that Jordan planned ahead for distractions and built time in for the ones he could predict so as not to be derailed by them.
As promised, no magic bullets, just good useable ideas that serve the pros of our industry day in and day out.
"...Success is failure turned inside out - the silver tint of the clouds of doubt, and you can never tell just how close you are, it may be near when it seems so far.
So stick to the fight when youíre hardest hit - itís when things seem worst that you must not quit."
-Jim Della Volpe