How NOT to sell staffing

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I got a call this morning from a local staffing firm.

At first, I thought it was someone calling to inquire about our services, but in less than 3 seconds I knew it was a sales call.  Now, the woman who called was very pleasant, and very professional. But she blew it…BIG TIME! And if she had only made a tiny change in her approach, it could have made all the difference in the world.

First, let me tell you what went wrong…

  1. She opened the call with “how are you today?”
    Sure, this is a pleasant question, but only telemarketers ask it…Strike 1.
  2. She followed up with “I’m calling to see how Haley Marketing manages its hiring.”
    Huh? Why is that relevant? Are we hiring someone I did not know about? Is that my biggest concern…Strike 2.
  3. I then asked “Do you know what we do for a living?”
    And the response? You guessed it…”No, I don’t”…Strike 3.

At that point, I thanked the caller for her time, and asked her to email me some information (and as of the end of the business day, no email had arrived…Strike 4!).

So what could, and should, this sales person have done?

For starters, she should have done a little homework…just 5 minutes of research to look at our website, and she would have known that we specialize in marketing support for the staffing industry and that we work with more than 250 staffing firms a year.

Second, she should have prepared a decent, and intriguing opening question. For example, had she looked at our website, she might have said:

“Mr. Searns, I see that you serve temporary staffing companies, and as someone who works in a staffing firm, I know that our industry is hurting right now. I’m guessing you’re probably feeling the impact of the decline in our industry, but maybe I can help. There are some specific ways we might be able to help free your time, expand your sales efforts, and even improve service, with minimal cost and risk to your business. Would you like to talk about these ideas?”

Now I know that’s a long statement (and I’m sure it could be refined), but had she said anything close to the above message, I would have been blown away–and I would have gladly met. Even though we are not hiring, this sales person could have CREATED a demand for staffing simply by showing me how she could make a positive impact on my business.

So the point of this post?

STOP SELLING STAFFING! Right now, most employers don’t need your services. If you want to succeed in staffing, sell (or better yet consult) on the business challenges your prospects are facing. Spend 5 minutes before each call to do a little research. Plan a few introductory questions to gather information. And then offer solutions.

If you do this, you will CLEARLY differentiate yourself from 90% of other staffing sales reps, and you’ll dramatically expand the market for your services. You’ll get more appointments. You close more sales. And you’ll get less margin pressures.

And finally, when you promise to email information, please, please, please do so the same day!

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