I’ve spent the past 5 days touring colleges with my son. We’ve visited many of the most prestigious institutions in the Northeast: Princeton. Yale. MIT. Carnegie Mellon. And each time the process was nearly identical:

  • Gather at admissions
  • Listen to a one hour presentation
  • Tour campus

While the process was clearly formulaic, the presentations were not. And what a difference the narrative made!

These are all incredible schools with rigorous academic programs. They all offer amazing opportunities for study and social life. But what surprised me was that these elite institutions seemed to give students free reign to present their school as they wanted.

In some cases, the speakers were amazing. They completely sold our entire family on wanting to attend their school. (If I could go back–and I had the grades–I’d apply in a heartbeat!)

But in other cases, we were completely turned off. Convinced by the people representing a particular school that it would not be the right fit. Think about that. These schools cost $60k+ per year. These presenters lost a quarter of a million dollar sale because of how they conveyed information.*

How does this apply to your business?

Do you control your narrative? What do your sales people really say to clients? Do they tell a compelling story that makes employers want to work with your firm? Or do they make you look just like every other staffing firm?

How about your recruiters? Do they get job seekers excited to be part of your team or represented by your organization?

Being a great presenter is not enough. In the case of the college tours, all of the presenters were great speakers. Truly engaging. But where some of them failed was that they presented solely from their own point of view. They didn’t take the audience’s needs or interests into account. They didn’t craft the message to fit the recipient.

In a big group presentation, this can be tough to do. Some kids are interested in art. Others want humanities. And some, like mine, are interested in math and technology. At the schools that failed, the presenters only addressed one type of student. They assumed everyone was like them, shared similar interests, and would choose their school for the same reasons they love it.

Lessons for staffing firms

  • Match your message to the audience. When selling your company to an employer (or a job to a candidate) make sure that you describe the services (and benefits) you offer based on the needs, wants and interests of the buyer.
  • Don’t make assumptions about what your audience wants, ask them. In order to adapt your presentation, you need to first understand what the client or candidate wants. Asking people what they want may sound obvious, but too often sales people and recruiters want to talk about their company, or the job opportunity, rather than showing people why what they are offering is the best fit.
  • Script the narrative. Understand the words that are most effective. This advice may be a little controversial. Most staffing firm sales people I know hate scripts. Yet, some words work better than others. And not all the benefits you offer apply to all clients. The key to maximizing sales effectiveness is to choreograph the sales process, so your sales people (and recruiters) thoroughly understand how to execute the process and present the right information, the right way, at the right time.
  • Train your presenters. Practice. Then practice again. Do you role play with your sales people and recruiters? Or do you do all your practicing with live clients? In staffing, practice may not make perfect, but it makes for more productive and effective sales representatives.

Need help crafting your message?

From positioning messages to value propositions to core stories, we can help you develop the right message–and then determine the best way to use that message to capture the attention and interest of employers and job seekers. Contact Haley Marketing to learn more.


* Some readers might argue with me that the purpose of a presentation at an elite institution is not to “make a sale” but to weed out students who are not the right fit. And I’d agree with you. However, they have to weed people out for the right reasons. In the case of these introductory presentations, several presenters were creating an inaccurate representation of their school by presenting too narrow or biased of a focus. This wasn’t a case of weeding out; it was a case of turning off potentially good students. That’s why I described it as losing the sale.


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