Ask Haley: Get through to Purchasing and HR

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Q: One of our sales reps would like ideas on getting through to Purchasing departments and Corporate HR Managers who control the selection and purchasing from staffing agencies for local divisions.  Please help!

A: If you’re trying to get through to the purchasing department, there’s only one strategy for success–lower your costs.  Or at least prove how your services lower costs for the employer. You need to be able to build a case that demonstrates how you are:

  1. Removing cost from the service process and passing the savings on to clients
  2. Providing a solution that lowers the employer’s overall cost of staffing

The bottom line is that what matters most to Purchasing Managers is saving money, and they will want to de-construct your P&L statement to find ways you can reduce cost and give them more savings.  So, if you are proactive, you may be able to get their attention.

Other ways you might be able to help these people save money may be to offer:

  1. Discounts for volume purchases (larger transaction volume and/or longer assignments).
  2. Partnering with other service providers to offer a bundled solution.
  3. Showing them ways to re-engineer their own staffing requisition process to reduce cost.
  4. Showing them ways to use flexible staffing to reduce headcount and the cost of FTEs.

If the person you need to reach is NOT in purchasing, but in HR, then the strategy becomes more of a blend of focusing on cost savings and quality. You might want to find a way to demonstrate that you are consistently providing more productive employees to other similar local employers.

The challenge is that the people you need to reach are CONSTANTLY being called by staffing reps promising better quality and value.  So you can’t just call and promise more, you have to prove your value. This is where you need statistical evidence to demonstrate that you are faster, provide better quality, are more responsive, etc. You may want to start collecting report cards after every assignment where you get a grade on quality, responsiveness, fit, time to fill, etc. plus stats on any specific results delivered (e.g., we reduced turnover X% or we saved $Y based on the solution we provided).  The more statistical evidence you have, the easier it is to make a compelling case for a meeting.

Of course with either audience the first challenge is getting their attention.  This is where creativity comes into play.  A clever direct mail piece, a Fed Ex package, or even an intriguing voice mail can all be effective ways to break through the clutter and create interest in a conversation.  Ideally, you want to offer the prospect something of value that the prospect “can’t afford to miss.”  This way they have to take your call or visit your website or agree to a meeting to get the valuable content you’re offering.

I hope these ideas help, and please feel free to email me at [email protected] with additional questions, if you’d like to get into more specifics.

– David

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