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Ask Haley: What are other staffing firms doing to get new clients?

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Q: What are other staffing firms doing to get new clients right now?

A: HERE IT IS! Are you ready to learn the secret formula for immediate sales growth? I’m talking about the hidden opportunity in the staffing industry that will produce virtually unlimited demand for temps. Are you REALLY ready?

Well, there isn’t a secret formula. And there aren’t any hidden opportunities. But that’s only because there are still LOTS of opportunities for growth and high margins in the staffing industry…
and they are not secret!

So what are other staffing firms doing right now? Here are a few strategies that are working:

1. Spend more time with existing clients.
The fastest place to find new business is always with your existing clients. And many staffing firms are driving sales growth by developing deeper relationships with their clients. They are getting beyond the HR department, meeting with supervisors, department heads and executives to better understand their clients’ businesses. And they are finding ways to solve a wider range of staffing related challenges.

Some specific things other staffing firms are doing include:

– Expanding the range of job disciplines they fill for their current clients.

– Playing more strategic roles by outsourcing projects and providing onsite management.

– Unbundling recruiting services to provide hiring process consulting, candidate sourcing, assessment testing, reference checking, background screening and other services that are billed by the hour or project.

– Cross selling services into new departments.

– Geographically expanding to serve their current clients in new markets.

2. Become the leading expert in a vertical market.
Some staffing companies are achieving success by becoming experts in specific industries. Using their knowledge of an industry, these firms are able to develop better solutions and provide better candidate matches for their clients. This strategy enables these firms to steal business
away from generalist firms and expand geographically.

We are particularly seeing this trend within niche markets in healthcare such as allied health. We are also seeing this in legal staffing, engineering staffing and IT staffing. And even some industrial staffing
firms are becoming greater experts in lean manufacturing as a way to improve their ability to provide more strategic solutions and beat the competition on something other than price.

3. Outmarket the competition.
This might seem like a strange strategy in a downturn (and you might even think we’re just being self-serving), but the reality is that firms that market more aggressively in a downturn get more business
and recover faster. When you stop marketing, you disappear off the radar screens of your clients and prospects. You stop being top-of-mind, and you give your competition an opportunity to steal your business.

When you invest in promoting your firm, you keep yourself visible to your current clients and prospects, you increase awareness of your firm with new prospects, and you signal to the market that you are doing well.

And people want to work with successful companies.

Aggressive marketing also is the cheapest way to find hidden opportunities. The more you market, the more people get to know your name. And the more they see your name, the more they begin to trust you. Since staffing is a relationship business, aggressive marketing is the easiest way to initiate and nurture relationships with a wider audience.

One of our clients even went so far as to reduce the size of their sales staff and invest a portion of the savings in marketing. Prior to the change, sales were falling. Since then, expenses are down and revenues are back on the increase. The bottom line is that an investment in marketing can reach a lot more people than an investment in sales (and at Haley Marketing, we always recommend tightly integrating sales and marketing to truly maximize response).

4. Offshoring
While certainly not a new trend, many IT staffing firms are creating sales opportunities by getting into offshore staffing and project management. But offshoring is certainly not limited to IT. We also
see companies successfully offshore staffing and project solutions in accounting, legal research, and graphic design.

5. Partnering
Often, the fastest path to a sale is through someone else. And there are many ways staffing companies can partner with other vendors, clients and even competitors to create sales opportunities. Here are a few ideas:

– Partner with firms that sell complimentary products to the same clients, such as outplacement firms, HRIS vendors, benefits providers and PEO services.

– Partner with consulting firms to provide on-demand recruiting to staff projects they sell.

– Partner with your clients to help them sell new business initiatives where you can provide the staffing support they require to service the new business.

– Partner with competitors who sell complimentary staffing services or even direct competitors where you can jointly better service a larger client.

These are just five of the many staffing strategies other staffing firms are using right now to increase sales. One last point for today’s Ask Haley comes from a firm I met with at this year’s Staffing Industry Executive Forum. When asked about the downturn, the owner of this company simply stated, “We’ve banned discussion about the subject. It’s not an excuse.” And he was dead on. If you’re General Motors, the current economy is a big issue. But if you’re a small to mid-sized
organization, you’re not dependent on the overall economy. There are still plenty of opportunities to continue to grow. Just be creative and find the strategies that are the best fit for your organization.

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