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:
1. Be a subject matter expert. Where do your prospects go for information? Is it LinkedIn Groups? Associations? Web forums? Search engines? Find out where your prospects go to find answers, then provide the content they are looking for. Common challenges for staffing prospects and clients include finding, attracting, and selecting talent, retention, the Affordable Care Act, compensation, metrics and accountability, and managing different generations. Write about these topics to establish you as an expert.
2. Stop selling and start helping. Most sales people reach out to prospects with a sales pitch. “Do you have 10 minutes to talk about your staffing needs?” “Are you happy with your current provider?” Instead of always selling (which people hate), focus on providing value. How do you do that? By offering content and tools that they can use. Email your prospects a blog you’ve written. Or send them a list of killer interview questions they can use. When they start to see you as a resource rather than another sales rep, you have turned the corner to differentiating yourself and creating demand.
3. Get referred. Which one of these sales people are you most likely to buy from: 1. The one that stops by your office unannounced. 2. The one that cold calls you on the phone. 3. The one that is referred to you by someone you know and trust. It's a no brainer – the answer is number three. The best entry into a prospect is through a referral, because it immediately establishes credibility, which leads to demand. Make sure to not only ask for referrals, but for introductions. An email introduction yields much higher results than just permission to drop their name, and an in person meeting is gold.
4. Speak! I’ve written about this many times. If you want to create instant credibility, then speak in front of your prospects. Talk about what you are an expert on, and what they struggle with (see #1 above for topics). Are you uncomfortable or new to public speaking? Get involved in Toastmasters and then practice by volunteering to speak to non-profit groups.
5. Be consistent. Make sure that anywhere your prospect goes to learn more about you, there is a consistent message that is reinforcing your credibility. This means your website, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, industry association websites and periodicals, and even Google searches. The more you can reinforce your message, the more your credibility will snowball.
Ideally what you are shooting for is to establish a strong reputation before you ever talk to the prospect. By following these five steps, you will be able to establish demand early, leading to more new clients and better margins.