Staffing Sales Ideas: How to Thrive in the “New Normal”
A return to “business as usual”?
It’s not likely anytime soon. The world forever changed in 2020, and we are settling into a “new normal.” In this type of operating environment, your success will rely on a mix of hard work, creative thinking and maybe even a little re-imagining of the value your staffing company can offer.
Here are nine ideas to help you increase your value and discover more staffing sales opportunities:
Idea #1: Strengthen Client Relationships
How strong are your relationships with your clients? Are you an essential partner to their organizations, playing a strategic role in their talent management process? Or are you just a vendor that can be all to easily replaced by another staffing company on the approved vendor list?
In order to get closer to your clients, take the following steps:
- Plan a meeting (or Zoom) to get a deeper understanding of how your clients have been impacted by the current economy.
- What are their plans for recovering?
- How have they adjusted their staffing plans in the past few months?
- Where do they anticipate talent needs in the next 60 to 180 days?
- Assess the depth of your relationship with each client.
- How many staffing decision makers do you know?
- What percentage of their staffing business do you get?
- Are there other departments or divisions that could use your services?
- Do you know the strategic and economic decision makers?
- How strong are your relationships with the HR department?
- What about purchasing – are they involved in the staffing process?
- Map out the org chart of each client, and then determine where you have gaps in your relationships. Develop a plan to expand and strengthen your network of contacts.
- If possible, work with each client to outline a proactive workforce strategy for the next six to nine months. Help your clients to anticipate their hiring needs, proactively source the talent they will require, and effectively manage their temporary and full-time hiring needs.
Idea #2: Create Incentives for Purchase
I’m not a big fan of discounts. When you cut your prices, it’s hard to recover.
However, I am a very big fan of creating incentives for purchase. In other words, offering something of value to the buyer that also provides increased value (or comes at low cost) to the seller.
In staffing, there are several types of strategic discounts you can offer where you give the client a pricing break in exchange for something you want in return. These include:
- Volume purchase discounts – pricing based on minimum guaranteed spend
- First call discounts – reduced fees for giving your company a head start on open job orders
- Exclusive provider discounts – incentives for being the only staffing supplier
In addition to offering discounts, consider creating service “bundles” where you combine services and then offer a discounted fee or additional value for the bundled purchase. For example, you might offer perm fee at 15% for any company that buys a certain amount of temporary staffing and direct hire. Or maybe you offer a free custom training and onboarding program for clients that purchase a specific range or volume of staffing services.
With incentives, your goal is to motivate the buyer to: take action now; make you a priority or exclusive supplier; or commit to a large volume of staffing use with your firm.
Idea #3: Target Small and Essential Businesses
This idea is pretty straightforward: Go where the business is.
Typically, the staffing industry overlooks small business because they do not represent enough volume to be interesting to a staffing company (or a commission-based salesperson). However, when a small company with 20 people loses 2 employees to illness, they have lost 10% of their workforce.
While small businesses may not replace the large employers that use hundreds of temps, they can help diversify your client base and bring in revenue that most of your competitors will be overlooking.
Essential employers are in industries that must provide services, regardless of what’s going on in the world. As a result, they will continue to need talent.
To find more opportunities with essential employers, determine:
- Which companies are considered essential in your state?
- Look at their career sites. Are they hiring the kinds of people you place?
- Do they need fill-ins, supplemental staff or full-time hires?
- Look at the entire supply chain for these essential industries. Are there any companies in the chain that need the kinds of people you place?
Idea #4: Pivot into New Skill Disciplines
As a staffing expert, you have extremely valuable skills and the ability to recruit for roles beyond your core focus. As remote work and modified work arrangements remain popular, your talent management expertise will be more valuable than ever.
To find new sales opportunities, you may need to broaden the skills for which you recruit.
- What other skill disciplines COULD you recruit for?
- Look across your current client and the local labor market. Who is hiring? What kinds of talent do they need?
- Look at industries that are experiencing unexpected talent demand, such as banking, insurance, call centers and even government agencies.
- Beyond staffing and recruiting, are there other services you can offer to help employers better manage their flexible staffing needs?
Idea #5: Target Weaker Competitors
Admittedly, this idea is not a very nice strategy. But if you look at the last two recessions as reference points, you’ll see that after each downturn about 30% of the staffing industry did not survive.
To come out a winner on the other side of a recession:
- Identify all the staffing players in your market.
- Evaluate the jobs they are trying to fill and the employers they are serving.
- Proactively skill-market talent to their clients and get more aggressive about sales outreach.
- Demonstrate that you want to win each client’s business more than the current firm wants to retain it.
Idea #6: Offer Proactive Workforce Planning
Building off idea #1, get into the business of helping local employers to create annual workforce plans. Workforce planning is about anticipating likely talent needs (based on expected business needs), and then assuring access to people with the right skills at the right time.
A workforce plan considers retention of current staff, upskilling and promotion, temporary and full-time hiring, and use of 1099 employees and outside consultants. Whether or not you are an expert in workforce planning, you have the skills and experience necessary to help local employers to create staffing plans for the next 90 to 190 days.
Your plans could include:
- Assessment of talent needs (skills, level of experience, location, etc.)
- Sourcing onsite and remote workers
- Managing workforce cuts and furloughs
- Converting fixed overhead to variable cost
- Staffing up for the recovery
- Benchmarking top performers
- Updating position descriptions to include new skills needed
- Ideas for bridging skill gaps
- Top grading talent
You might offer workforce planning as a paid service or even as a free service to get yourself at the front of the line when hiring starts.
Idea #7: Increase Visibility (Online)
To sell effectively, you have to become a master of digital marketing. Become more visible online to:
- Ensure clients and prospects know that you’re open for business (if you’re not active online, they may assume you’ve closed your doors)
- Strengthen your positioning
- Increased demand for last-minute fill-ins
- Cross sell services
So how do you best use digital marketing to increase your visibility?
- Create content that matches your target audience’s interests.
This can include blogs, videos, eBooks, webinars, podcasts, etc.
- Share your content on social media.
Be sure to share on your company pages and through team member accounts.
- Create communities where your clients and/or candidates can exchange ideas.
Ideal places are LinkedIn and Facebook groups, Slack and other messaging platforms.
- Add paid promotion to get your content found.
This can include advertising on Google, Facebook, Instagram and of course, LinkedIn.
- Setup conversion paths to get people to take action.
Bring people from social media and ads to your website (and landing pages), where they can take action.
Idea #8: Help Your Team to Sell Remotely
As you have probably already learned, remote selling is not like selling in person. It’s harder to capture attention and build relationships. However, remote selling does have its strengths, and with the right tools and process, your sales team can be more productive and more effective at selling over the Internet.
Here are some of the strategies and tools to consider:
Remote Sales Strategies
- Create more engaging cold email outreach strategies
- Create more compelling LinkedIn connection requests
- Change your messaging to: “How can we help?”
- Become even more consultative
- Focus on clients’ future, not just present needs
Remote Sales Tools
- Video email
- Zoom (think beyond meetings – consider webinars, service demos, video case studies and testimonials)
- Online proposal and presentation software
- Marketing automation
- IP tracking software (so you know who is visiting your website)
- Talent Showcase (skill market via your website)
- Website fly-ins
The most effective remote sales professionals use content and digital marketing to capture attention, and they integrate multiple communication channels into their outreach. These pros focus on capturing attention and adding value first, and then through their discovery process they pivot to selling staffing services.
Idea #9: Move up the Value Chain
As a staffing company, your value comes from providing people to fill defined needs for your clients. But your value doesn’t have to stop there.
Many staffing companies already provide higher value services like on-sites. Some offer MSP and RPO services. Others provide product solutions or outsourcing.
Moving up the value chain is all about providing new services where you play a bigger role (and take on more responsibility) for your clients. Here are a few examples of services you could offer:
- Workforce planning
- Project solutions
- HR consulting
- Outplacement / Career transition services
- Outsourced recruiting / workforce management
What’s the right sales strategy for your staffing company?
Unfortunately, there is no one right answer. What works best for you may not work best for others. And conversely, what they do won’t be best for you.
However, if we look at past recessions, the companies that were most successful drove sales by:
- Strengthening their core competencies – getting even further ahead of their competitors.
- Diversifying into new services that matched their skills and abilities.
- Digitally transforming their business to improve customer service, increase efficiency and lower cost of delivery.
- Getting more aggressive about marketing to stay visible, strengthen positioning and capitalize on more opportunities.
- Providing sales teams with the tools and support needed to succeed.
Adopting the right strategy for your firm can pave the way for incredible success in the months and years to follow!