Referrals are extremely valuable for building candidate pools, but we rarely actively do it. Generally we are passive about referrals. A candidate or recent placement may happen to recommend a friend or neighbor, but not because we solicited the referral. If you proactively seek referrals you can reap the benefits. Here’s why you want referrals and how to get them.
Every new year, industry content will come out with multiple articles of the ‘New’ and ‘Game-changing’ insight and suggestions on how to become more successful in your business. This is no different for the staffing industry, with articles touting various ways to improve on recruiting. As an industry, we have started to move away from some of the most critical yet basic recruiting methods. Here are just a few of my suggestions on how to keep yourself on top of the game:
Quick question: If you needed surgery, would you rather have a world class specialist, or a generalist that barely passed medical school? I’m guessing you would choose the specialist. But this decision doesn’t just occur with life or death situations – the same applies to most products and services. Buyers want to work with experts, so by convincing your prospects that you are an expert, you will naturally create more demand and close more deals.
“But Tom, I’m not an expert!” Ok, let me ask you a couple more questions.
Do your prospects want to work with you as much as you want their business? In most cases, probably not. You really want their business, and you are just one of many staffing firms calling on them to get a shot. The problem with this unbalanced demand is that it makes it significantly more difficult for you to close deals. And if you are selected, it puts you at a severe disadvantage when negotiating pricing and other terms.
The primary reason for this lack of demand for your service is that you haven’t built enough credibility. Think about it: do professional athletes just pick any surgeon to repair their knee or rotator cuff? No, they seek out the best in the profession, and they pay a significant premium for it. The same is true for staffing – if they perceive you to be the best in your market or niche, prospects will want to work with you. And yes, they will pay a premium for your service.
So how do we get the prospect to want to work with us? Here are 5 key ways you can build credibility, which ultimately leads to demand for your service:
Try this the next time you attend a networking event. Sit back for a few minutes and just watch people interact. Notice how some people always seem to gather a crowd? Or everyone that walks by them says hi, shakes their hand, or pats them on the shoulder? Those are the influencers in the association, and they are who you need to get to know first and best.
At the end of 2014, Coca Cola announced that they would be eliminating voicemail at their corporate headquarters. When they surveyed their employees prior to making this decision, a whopping 94% voted to get rid of voicemail! If you are a sales person that depends heavily on the phone for sales activity (as most do in our industry), this should be a sobering moment.
It’s not a big secret that the vast majority of sales people are on LinkedIn. And most of those are using the site on a regular basis, researching prospects, connecting and reconnecting, sending emails, and updating their status. But most sales professionals overlook or undervalue one of the most powerful features available to them – Groups.
The concept of relationship selling gets a bad rap nowadays. The reason is that it is used many times by sales reps to justify a lack of activity and/or results. “I take a relationship approach to my sales” has become synonymous with driving around and talking to receptionists, spending lots of time in coffee shops, and having sales cycles that are longer than some Senate terms. And I’ll admit, when I first talk to a sales rep and they label their approach as “relationship selling”, red flags immediately pop up everywhere.
Ever get a cold call from an attorney? Probably not, because their code of ethics has strict rules against solicitation. And if you did, what would you think? Your initial response would be they probably aren’t a very good attorney, or they wouldn’t need to cold call.
So how do lawyers sell? Well, since cold calling is off the table, they have to be creative. They network like crazy and advertise on TV, radio, and in publications. They sponsor associations, host educational events, ask for referrals, and a variety of other ways to get in front of their prospects. They can’t rely on just picking up the phone and making call after call after call, so they find other ways to build name recognition and credibility. And it works!
Mary Kay, Amway, Thirty One Gifts, Avon. All of these companies have been consistently successful using one timeless sales mantra: people who know you are more likely to buy than people who don’t. And the closer they are to you, the more they tend to buy.