Success in Staffing Sales: A Matter of Science and Art—and a Bit of Luck

I’ve mentioned in other posts that I spent nearly a decade as the head of sales for a regional staffing company. Very early in my career, I learned that if I wanted to maintain consistent contact with my client base and prospects, I needed to have a defined marketing process in place. So I became meticulous about tracking our team’s metrics and tying activity back to business results, and worked hard to spread my company’s messaging and promote its brand. As a result, we had excellent client retention and saw an average of 15% new business growth each year.

When I left the staffing industry three years ago and started Mamu Media, I got a peek at the practices of other staffing companies. As I started calling them to sell our publication services, I was shocked to discover that about half of them lacked a defined sales process. This figure hasn’t fluctuated much these past three years. Instead, those companies each rely on a well-established core group of clients with whom they’ve worked for many years. When business drops off a bit, the recruiters make some sales calls or engage in skill-set marketing via e-mail.

Often, however, those efforts alone are insufficient to drive sales. Without a supporting framework, these one-shot campaigns rarely make more than a tiny ripple in a big pond filled with competitors who are all clamoring for attention with similar tactics. In any industry, inconsistent activity yields inconsistent results. In order to boost sales and promote the long-term health of your organization, your efforts must include a bit of science, a bit of art, and a bit of luck.

Most companies have an idea of how to make science work for them. Tracking correlations between sales and marketing, for example, yields useful data that can shape future sales campaigns. Being attuned to industry news (Google Alerts is great for this), too, lets an organization anticipate and adjust to industry shifts.

Art, on the other hand, is a bit more elusive. Think of it as successful brand building and engagement with your audience—the subjective aspects of how your messaging is conveyed and received. In previous posts, I’ve discussed at least two ways to cultivate the art of staffing sales: brand building on a budget, and staying top of mind with prospects by increasing their unaided awareness of your brand.

And there’s a new kid on the block: skill-set marketing by video. With this sales technique, a staffing or recruiting agency creates video interviews of its top candidates (often working with a firm such as Hirevue or Montage), highlighting each individual’s (or group’s) skill. The agency markets the videos to clients and prospects, giving them an opportunity to determine if they want to examine a candidate more closely as a potential hire. I know of several companies already using this method with great effectiveness—and I’m confident more and more organizations will be trying it for themselves soon, once they see how well it works for their competitors.

So where does luck come into the picture? Unfortunately, unlike science and art, luck can’t be influenced. Some things just happen, and at times and places you can’t control. The best you can do is be ready to go with the flow. And if you’ve tweaked the science and art aspects of your sales efforts, you’ll be in good shape to handle whatever comes your way!


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