3 Questions to Qualify Your Prospects in Staffing Sales

I spent eight years as the head of sales for a staffing agency and learned early in my career that you must put together three puzzle pieces if you want to make money in the staffing industry. You need to get the job order (sales), fill the job order (recruiting), and maintain relationships with both staff and clients (sales and recruiting). Unless you find and join all three pieces, you’ll achieve only short-term success but nothing sustainable.

I also learned that sales is not rocket science (unless you’re selling to NASA!). Success in selling any product or service often boils down to having the right conversations with the right people at the right time. It’s possible to affect your timing (though it’s often out of your hands) and effectively position your services in your conversations. But today I want to focus on where the foundation of your success lies: connecting with the right people.

Even if you make a thousand sales calls every day, if you can’t answer “yes” to all three questions below about the companies and people you’re calling on, you’re wasting your time.

  1. Does the company you’re calling on usually use staffing services? If so, great—perhaps you have something to offer them. If not, they still might be a good fit for temporary staffing or a temp-to-perm model because of the types of positions they hire for. In that case, work with them to show the value of outsourcing and calculate ROI figures to demonstrate the value of your services.

  2. Does the person you’re calling on make staffing decisions? Knowing whom to call is often the most challenging aspect of selling staffing services. Remember, ten different companies can have ten different ways of buying staffing services through ten different decision makers. In some cases the senior VP of HR is responsible for negotiating the contracts with staffing vendors and may maintain relationships with multiple temporary staffing agencies, letting each member of the recruiting team choose which vendor to work with. In other cases the office manager or VP of a department may be fully responsible for developing vendor relationships and making staffing decisions.

  3. Does the company you’re calling on use staffing services for the types of positions your firm fills? I’ve seen many new sales reps come back from appointments smiling from ear to ear because they got an order for a .NET programmer or a senior internal auditor with ten years of big-four accounting experience. Their excitement quickly faded, however, when I reminded them that our firm handled only clerical and light industrial staffing.

Take a look at your prospect list after reading this post. If you can’t answer all three questions about the person or company you’re calling on, prioritize finding the answers so you can avoid wasting your efforts. “I don’t know” is not an option.

Of course, you still need to be concerned about budget approval, job order qualification, and filling the order. But if you’re not marketing your services to the right people at the right companies, you’re setting yourself up for failure.


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