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.
To paraphrase a famous quote from Douglas MacArthur – “Old deals never die; they just fade away.” Odds are, most of the deals that fall out of your pipeline you don’t technically ever “lose”, they just lose momentum until the deal is eventually gone. This can happen when a client has other priorities pop up, over vacations and holidays, or because the sales person loses focus (or interest) on the deal.
Deals require consistent action in order to move through the sales process. The problem is that during a longer sales cycle (60 days or more), there is likely to be a period of inactivity. Most sales people don’t want to come across as a pest, so they just wait a couple weeks, or even months. Unfortunately during that time the prospect often will redirect their attention to new priorities, and the pain they were feeling has subsided (usually because the incumbent staffing firm caught wind they were at risk of losing the account, so they stepped up their game).
But there are ways that you can maintain momentum even during the longest of sales cycles, and do it without coming across as the pushy sales person. Here are 8 ways you can keep communication flowing without irritating the prospect:
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:
One of the questions I always ask when interviewing someone for a staffing sales position is, “Tell me about the client relationship you are most proud of and why?” About half of the candidates I ask are completely stumped – I don’t hire any of them. Why? Because in our industry, building strong relationships is critical to our long-term success.
And overcoming adverse situations (which we have plenty of in our profession) in many cases results in a stronger relationship. When someone that has been in sales for more than a couple of years can’t think of a client relationship they are proud of, it tells me that they are a transactional sales person. That mentality works great in some other industries, but not in staffing.