…only without strategy!
There is a common mistake that I see repeated across the recruitment and staffing industry. From a development and training perspective over 80% of the recruiters I encounter are seeking to develop their sales skills: opening techniques, killer questions, Jedi-like influence skills, and robust closing skills. Each of these is a potentially valid training need. Each an area that I know I can help them to develop, although for some it is a case of putting the cart before the horse.
Let me explain further. Becoming a ‘great’ sales practitioner is clearly the goal of every sales person. Developing the techniques to win more clients is undoubtedly an important focus area for a self-sufficient recruiter. What benefit is there to develop such skills if you are pointing in the wrong direction? Developing the salesmanship of the individual alone is not going to generate more business.
I would say that many of the individuals (and businesses) I have worked with have had a stronger development need to refine their sales strategy before considering developing their sales skills. In fact, the bigger the business, the less ‘strategy’ the recruiters had for their business development.
As a recruiter within software development, having a strategy to focus on permanent C# development jobs in London is relatively weak. Why? Because it neither creates the ability to target business or to present a reasonable proposition to the prospect as to why they should do business with you.
Every recruiter must have a stronger strategy. What do I mean by strategy?
A distinct plan on how to identify prospective clients, engage with the relevant decision maker, and convert a satisfactory level of prospects.
What does a good strategy look like? Each strategy is likely to be different from firm to firm. Below I have listed a series of questions that create the foundations of a good strategy:
What is your service?
Beyond recruiting, beyond filling jobs, what does your service actually do for your clients? Go deeper than the surface transaction. What are the reasons your current customers do business with you? Build genuine value propositions as to what makes you stand out in a competitive market. Truly understanding this will highlight exactly why another business would want to trade with you.
Who is your target audience?
Build a model of the target client, this may include: Industry, sector, product range, market position, size of company, growth, financial position, department size, locations, staff attrition levels, current recruitment methods, volume of business available, level of decision maker to target, and buying process. The clearer you can make this the easier it is to find them. Building a list of businesses that satisfy these criteria may take some energy but certainly gives some focus to your client qualification calls!
How will I identify and qualify my prospects in the market?
When does a company become a client? When they give me a job to work or when I fill it? What is going to be my source of leads? How will I generate target clients to approach? What are the key qualification questions I need to ask? What are my current conversion ratios, how many leads do I need to create a new client?
What is going to motivate a client to want to buy from me?
What stands out in my service? Why do my current customers do business with me? What are the value propositions that demonstrate my capability? What case studies and testimonials do I have to prove it?
How will I manage my client contact and keep in touch with them?
How would I rate my CRM database? Can I track relationships? How frequently do I want my prospects to hear from me? How should I be keeping that contact going? Whom will I broadcast to and whom will I narrowcast? How can I start to segment and target my market based upon business value?
Answering the above questions will start the process of building an effective strategy. Combine good strategy with robust activity planning and the activity itself and you will generate good levels of business. If the strategy and the planning are sound but the results don’t follow then perhaps then it is time to look at your sales skills and you ability to “cold call.”
The perpetual quest to develop your cold calling skills without strategy and planning though can often be misdirected energy. The really nice thing about sales strategy is that once it is done, you only to need to review it quarterly to ensure it is still valid for today’s market conditions.