Sales Slow?  Time to Recruit!

Do you know what your competitors are doing right now?

They’re busy knocking on more doors and making more sales calls. They’re being aggressive. They’re being persistent. And from the perspective of most HR managers, they’re being annoying!

With few exceptions, the staffing industry is in the midst of a moderate to severe recession. During slow times, the natural tendency is to focus on sales activities. But in a highly competitive industry like staffing, this strategy can backfire.

While you undoubtedly want to increase sales, you certainly don’t want to aggravate potential customers or burn out your sales team. Making more cold calls is not the solution. But, here’s one idea that might help…

Focus on the Value You Offer

Less than a year ago, your client’s were desperate for people. All too often they were willing to accept a less than perfect fit in order to fill their need. Now with employees in apparent abundance (they aren’t but many employers seem to think they are), your value will come from the quality of the people you provide.

This might sound obvious, but the best people are still employed. To sell staffing services, you’re going to have to prove to clients that you can do a better job of providing the right people, at the right time than your competitors. You have to demonstrate that your ability to find the “diamonds” outweighs the client’s ability to get a mass of response from a classified ad or job board posting.

In a slower economy the value you offer has not diminished. You save people time. You help them to stay focused on their most important tasks. You can recruit more efficiently than they can. To make the sale, you’re going to have to demonstrate how your services will save money or result in higher productivity. Now is the time to push your behavioral interviewing skills, your unique screening process, and the other capabilities you offer that allow you to outperform the competition.

Prove It!

The challenge in selling quality is to demonstrate that you really can deliver. Not one staffing firm sells high prices, poor quality, or lousy service. You won’t differentiate yourself by telling everyone you’re better. You’re going to have to prove your claims.

One of the most effective ways to demonstrate quality is to show people the types of candidates you have available. Now is the time to get aggressive about recruiting. Take a look at your recruiting programs. Are you reactively recruiting to fill client’s needs, or are you being more proactive?

While many service coordinators dislike recruiting when they don’t have a specific job to fill, now may be the best time to go after qualified candidates. Why? Because your competitor’s aren’t. If you can successfully attract top performers to your organization, you can then market those people to clients and prospective clients. And as you market these people, you are proving that your claim to deliver quality is indeed true.

Marketing Candidates

Once you attract someone to your company, you then have to find that person employment. Consider the following ideas for marketing your top candidates:

Existing Clients

  1. Insider’s ListCall all your existing accounts, and ask the hiring managers if they would be interested in receiving first notification about top candidates as they become available. You can then e-mail or fax your “Insiders List” to those people who are interested. Not only will this help you create more sales, it becomes an added value you offer to your customers.
  2. Today’s Needs ListCall the HR coordinators and office managers at existing customers and ask them if they would like information on candidates available for immediate work. Of course, before you start this program you’ll first want to develop a list of candidates who would be willing to work on a last minute basis. Your daily availability list could be faxed or e-mailed to clients each morning.
  3. Special Offer ListThis one may be a bit more controversial, but here’s the idea: create a list of direct placement candidates that you offer for a discounted fee. While we don’t encourage cutting prices as a way to increase sales, this special offer list could help. Position the offer as a special discount only for existing clients. In this time of economic uncertainty, you are showing customers that you understand their challenges and are sincerely interested in their success.


  1. Early Warning ListTelemarket hiring managers at companies you’re trying to work with. Ask the managers if they would like to receive early notification about top candidates in their field. The key to this marketing is to first understand the types of candidates each hiring manager would want.
  2. Success ListDevelop a targeted list of available candidates that match the likely needs of a prospective employer and then fax, mail, or e-mail that list to the appropriate hiring managers. Target companies in your market who are continuing to thrive despite economic conditions.

Once you have a proactive candidate marketing program in place, promote that program to your candidates. Let people know how you will help them break into companies they want to join. Show them how you will help them find organizations where they might experience a better fit. And be sure people know that you will marketing them in strict confidence, so they can look without having to worry about their current employer finding out.

Success Starts with Recruiting

Economic uncertainty can be a positive thing-if you take advantage of it! People everywhere are worried about job security. When an offer comes in to help find a better or more stable job, many people will be willing to listen. By focusing on recruiting, you can improve the quality of the candidates you have available, differentiate yourself from the competition, and create many new sales opportunities.