Q: How should I respond when a prospect says, “We’re not hiring?”
A: The biggest challenge that your prospect is facing may not be that business is slow, but that people are afraid to undertake new projects and hiring initiatives. This lack of action has been
compounded by a common knee-jerk reaction to reduce costs by cutting temporary staff and eliminating direct placement services.
To truly “sell” staffing (especially in a downturned economy) you must be comfortable selling the value of staffing. You can do this by finding out what challenges your prospect is facing and then educating them on how you can help.
While there is no question that business is slower just about everywhere, you can beat the economy. In most markets, 80% or more of the staffing services that were delivered last year will again be needed this year. There will still be lots of business out there. You must decide who’s going to suffer–you or your competition.
While there is no magic bullet that can speed up a slow economy, here’s what you can do:
1. Work harder: Knock on more doors, get aggressive about marketing, provide a higher level of service.
RISKS: This strategy can annoy customers and burn out sales reps! Extra services don’t provide extra value, unless the customer is willing to pay for them.
2. Extend service lines: Add new lines of business (new staffing services), expand into new geographic markets.
RISKS: Expanding services may cause you to lose focus. It’s expensive to make new services profitable.
3. Cut prices: The low price leader has an advantage in a recession.
RISKS: Can you really afford to cut margins? If you do, can you ever re-raise your prices?
To cut prices, you have to find ways to take cost out of your sales/service and overhead. And at all costs, protect your margins.
4. Work smarter: Increase the efficiency of your sales and service activities (e.g., cold calling is highly inefficient), redefine operating procedures to increase consistency and reduce cost, find ways to partner with clients for mutual benefit; help them to cut costs and increase sales, look where the opportunities really are, keep up morale with lots of little celebrations, and reward not just results, but activities.
Right now, your clients are facing the same challenges you are. You can increase your business by helping clients to improve their profits. Most companies don’t see staffing as a strategic tool.
You need to show them how your services can be used to control personnel expenses, improve productivity, and meet corporate objectives. You also need to highlight the other services that
you provide (e.g. payrolling).