June 23, 2018

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Selling Staffing & Recruiting in an Upturn

Part 1 of 2

Are your sales people prepared?

Full steam ahead…well, almost.

We're finally coming off of the Great Recession. And business is improving. While we're certainly not back to a boom time, companies are hiring.

Right now, we are seeing that the staffing and recruiting firms that worked hardest to differentiate their services, and continued to market over the past 18 months, are reaping the biggest benefits (some of our clients are up more than 100%).

But what if you, like so many others, were not that aggressive? Good news, it's not too late!

Six Sales and Marketing Strategies for Selling Staffing & Recruiting During a Recovery

  1. Be selective in choosing companies to target.

    Sounds obvious, but many staffing sales reps have little, if any, plan for going after the market. They spend way too much time chasing companies that either won't use staffing services or will be demanding price buyers.

    So while every company could be a user of staffing and recruiting services, train your team to be strategic about prospecting. Start by making three lists:

    • Current and former clients - Get out and learn what's going on in their businesses. Where are they short staffed? What initiatives would they like to tackle, if they had the resources? What departments aren't they currently servicing?

      It's always easier to sell to someone with whom you have a relationship, so make the most of your relationships. Look to expand your network of contacts inside each client company. Ask probing questions to better understand their business needs (not just their staffing challenges), and become a resource in providing creative solutions.

    • Ideal clients - Who are your best prospects? They are the companies that need your help, value your expertise, and don't haggle over your invoices.

      How do you find these companies? Start by profiling your current clients. What characteristics define your best clients today? What industries are they in? What locations? What sizes? What kinds of staffing needs do they have? Build a detailed profile of your ideal client, and then teach your sales team to look for other similar kinds of companies.

    • Your "Dream 100" - In The Ultimate Sales Machine, Chet Holmes advises readers to develop a list of the top accounts they'd like to land. His theory is that your best buyers, "Buy more, buy faster, and buy more often than others."

      Once you've developed a list of your "Dream 100," you then create a plan to get the attention and interest of these firms. According to Holmes, with "pigheaded determination and discipline you can take this list from 'I've never heard of this company' to 'Yes, I do business with that company.'"

  2. Stake out a unique place in the market. Right now, everyone is out beating on the doors of prospects--and mostly saying the same things to the same people. What will distinguish you from the competition?

    Unfortunately, it won't be great service or quality candidates--everyone promises that. So where do you start? Become a specialist. You might decide to focus on a very specific job discipline or service a specific industry. But for even stronger differentiation, become an expert. An expert is someone who has a great deal of knowledge focused on a very specific subject. For example, an industrial staffing firm that really understands lean manufacturing (and how to eliminate waste in staffing) has a big advantage over an LI firm that just fills orders. A financial staffing firm that's an expert in tax or financial analysis has an advantage over a generalized accounting and financial staffing firm. And a commercial staffing firm that understands workforce planning can outsell any firm that just offers traditional temp help.

    Another way to find your point of differentiation is to research the problems your IDEAL clients are experiencing right now and become an expert at solving those problems.

  3. Plan ahead. It's time to break the traditional cold-calling mentality of the staffing industry. Rather than just dialing 100 prospects this week, develop a plan to accomplish the following four things:

    • Break through the clutter. What will you do to grab people's attention? Brainstorm specific ways you can get through to your target audience.

    • Educate your target client about the problems you can solve. Employers don't think they need staffing now, so instead, focus on problems they have. By identifying specific challenges your prospects are facing and offering solutions, you will become a trusted resource.

    • Generate interest in HAVING a CONVERSATION. If you start your conversation with "need staffing?" or "just checking in," you'll probably wind up with the door slammed in your face. Instead, give people a compelling reason to meet first, sell staffing LAST.

    • Nurture relationships. Staffing is almost never a one-call close. To maximize your sales results, you need a process for relationship nurturing--an organized system of communication to educate, add value, reinforce your value proposition, and keep your firm top-of-mind. On that note…

    • Stay in touch with every client and prospect AT LEAST once a month. Staffing needs can happen at any time. Make sure that you are in regular contact, and continually reminding prospects (and clients) about the value you can provide, so that when a need arises, you're the first one called.

    • In addition to sales and marketing, focus on improving your client and candidate experience. Start by putting yourself in your clients' and candidates' shoes. For a candidate, think about how they are treated when they come to your office. Are they kept in the loop or are they left hanging after an interview? Would they refer a friend to your firm? For clients, review your sales, service and recruiting processes from start to finish. Ask what could be done to simplify the process and make people feel special. Look for holes, problems and communication issues and find solutions to those issues.

Stay tuned for next week's additional 5 points on how to sell recruiting and staffing during an upturn!

Read Part 2

- David Searns

David Searns is a member of the StaffingU Adjunct Faculty and is President of Haley Marketing Group, a relationship marketing services firm specializing in the staffing industry. Haley Marketing offers a unique relationship marketing process that helps staffing and search firms to stand out, stay top-of-mind, and win more business. They offer a range of services to satisfy the marketing needs (and budgets) of most types of staffing firms.

For more information about Haley Marketing, please visit