“What makes you different than other staffing companies?” I can still hear the question posed by my prospect almost 15 years ago. I just as vividly remember my answer:
“Well it’s the quality of our people……”.
What I remember the most clearly is what happened next – my prospect laughing at me. So I stopped and uncomfortably asked him what I had said or done that made him laugh. He quickly apologized and then asked me a question:
“Do they issue you all a handbook when you enter the staffing industry? I’m sorry, but you are the 7th staffing company I’ve talked with today and you all sound EXACTLY THE SAME.”
And he was right. I gave a generic answer to his question that I had given dozens of times before. The only difference is that he actually took the time to teach me a valuable lesson – stop sounding the same as everyone else. I was using what had become the most meaningless word in sales, right up there with “strategy” and “synergy”. I might as well have told him we were “out of the box” thinkers at our staffing firm.
From that moment on, I resolved to never respond with a canned answer, and to instead create a message that truly differentiated my staffing company from the competition. Frankly, I didn’t want to get laughed at again. But this embarrassing, and certainly humbling, experience was the best thing that could happen to my career as a sales professional. Because of it, I went from being just another staffing sales person to one of the top performers in the country. In fact, you could say I owe much of my career success to that one conversation.
So if you can’t say quality is your differentiator, what do you say? First off you need to identify what truly makes you different from other staffing firms. Don’t know? Then go ask your clients and employees. Second, make sure you can back it up, either with statistics, testimonials, awards, or other ways to quantify the difference. And third, research your competitors and identify their strengths and weaknesses. Emphasize areas that you are strong and they are weak, and stay away from their strengths.
The key to being successful in staffing sales is to identify what makes you different, why that is important to the prospect or client, and how you can best articulate your message in a way that resonates. Let your competitors continue to read from the Staffing Sales Handbook.
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