I just returned from the 2009 California Staffing Professionals annual conference, and I am very pleased to report that optimism–and positive sales results appear to be in abundance! 

Heading out to the conference, I assumed that we’d be hearing lots of pessimism and horror stories. After all, the recession lingers on, California’s state government is on the verge of bankruptcy, and headlines in the news continue to be nothing but doom and gloom.

And then we got to the conference. 

I spoke to one of our clients who said that his sales have doubled in the past 2 months. Then I spoke to another firm with offices in three states who said sales in 2009 are actually beating 2008. Then I spoke to another client that said he has produced a 100% increase in his revenues this year.

What is going on? Aren’t we supposed to be in a recession? Isn’t this California?

Well, it seems that the tide is turning. And as far as I can tell, here are the reasons why:

1) Business is picking up–at least a little.

2) Employers are too short-staffed. They have cut their core staff so far that they lack the resources to tackle new projects. Even small upticks in business are driving staffing needs.

3) A lot of weaker competitors are gone.  While the pie for staffing services is smaller, fewer people are competing for a slice.

And here is the big one…

4) People are getting more innovative.

The most successful staffing firms are those that aren’t simply riding out the storm. Yes, they battened down the hatches and cut extraneous costs. But now they are getting aggressive.

First, they are getting aggressive about their products. They are creating real innovation in the types and mix of services they are offering. From unbundling direct hire service to finding new models for delivering temporary staffing, we are seeing companies create new opportunities through product innovation.

Second, they are getting aggressive about marketing. They are not simply increasing call quotas, they are using new tools and techniques to capture the attention and interest of hiring managers, demonstrate their expertise, prove their value, and nurture relationships. From “old school” methods like email, direct mail, and public speaking to web 2.0 techniques like blogging and social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), they are finding low cost ways to get their message to the right people.

In short, the winners in this economy are doing what it takes to be winners. They’re being creative. They’re finding new ways to serve their clients. They’re finding new clients to serve. And they are being smarter and more aggressive about their marketing.

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