Sales Soundbite: Increase Your Authenticity and Increase Your Success

Posted March 3, 2016 by amybingham
Categories: Business Development, Leadership, Management, Recruiting & Staffing, recruiting & staffing, Sales, sales management

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Remember having the jitters about presenting a project in front of the class and Mom and Dad said “just be yourself?”  What they knew that we didn’t is people listen with their ears but they actually hear with their emotions.  And these emotions elicit one of two responses, either “you sound like someone I should listen to” or “ewww.”

In Recruiting & Staffing, we like to say “we’re in the people business.”  We know that people respond best to people they like and trust – people who are authentic.  We can’t be authentic if we’re not ourselves.    Unfortunately, most sales and recruiting training teaches us to be anything but.  Follow this process when making a cold call.  When met with that objection, say this.

No matter how well we rehearse a voicemail script and how natural we think it sounds, if it’s scripted rehearsed it often comes across as inauthentic.  The truth is every call is a little different.  If we jot down a few key points we don’t want to forget to make when we call, then confidently and authentically introduce ourselves and begin making those points in our own words, the recipient hears “you sound like someone I should listen to”, not “ewww.”   They’re more likely to respond favorably from the outset, and over time they’re more likely come back to us again and again when they see us as a real person, a trusted advisor, even a friend.

Like Mom and Dad said, all we need to do is just be ourselves.

3 Ways to Increase Your “Mental Fortitude”

Posted February 23, 2016 by amybingham
Categories: Business Development, Executive, Leadership, Management, Recruiting & Staffing, Sales, sales management, Uncategorized

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When you’re in a business development profession, mental toughness is essential.  We like to think we have it…but when something bad happens – we lose an account for example, it’s easy to go negative.

Here’s the thing.  Mental strength is a choice and a discipline.  It’s not an innate quality bestowed upon the lucky. It’s a learned behavior that must be practiced until it becomes habit.

The next time something bad happens, practice mental toughness by doing these three things:

  1. Change your perspective.  Cognitive behavioral therapy is predicated on the concept that if you can reframe the way you think about a situation (more positively), you’ll reframe your feelings about it, which in turn enables more productive behavior and outcomes.  It sounds so easy, but it takes practice to train your brain.  And each time you practice, just like in sports, you’re increasing your skill, which in this case is your mental fortitude.  So the next time you have a bad day, week, or month, or you just lose a deal you counted on winning, your task is to reframe the situation from “this is a disaster I won’t recover from” to “what can I learn from this and how will I behave differently going forward for better outcomes?”
  2. Don’t give in to fear. They say that bravery is being scared to death to do something and doing it anyway. Many times that’s true, especially when it comes to your career. The fear doesn’t have to come from something extreme; it can be a fear of cold calling or presenting. If you use fear as an excuse not to do something, you’ve already lost. It’s not that mentally tough people aren’t afraid—they simply will themselves to push through the fear.
  3. Don’t give up.  Mentally tough people persevere. They don’t throw in the towel in the face of failure or just because they’re tired. They’re focused on their goals, not on momentary feelings, and that keeps them going even when more is going wrong than right. They don’t take failing to mean that they’re a failure. And they don’t let the opinions of others get in the way of their success. When someone says, “that won’t work,” they regard it as just an opinion, not fact.

Top performing sales people attribute their success to persistence.  To persist even in the face of defeat after defeat requires mental fortitude.  Work on that skill and persistence just comes naturally.

Sales Soundbite: Which of the 4 hiring managers are you selling to?

Posted December 22, 2015 by amybingham
Categories: Business Development, Recruiting & Staffing, recruiting & staffing, Sales, sales management, Uncategorized

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When you’ve been in sales long enough, you come to understand that prospects typically fall in to one of four categories:
1. Arrogant and not in buying mode.
This is the hiring manager who works for a big employer everyone wants to work for. He knows everyone wants his business. He’ll go to lunch and happy hour with you anytime you call, but he has all staffing firms in the commodity bucket and he has no intention of buying from you. Or worse, he doesn’t really own the buying decision (HR or purchasing does) but he’ll never tell you that.
If after three meetings with this guy when you know he has business to give someone and it doesn’t go to you, find someone else in the organization to sell to.
2. Comfortable and not in buying mode – yet.
This hiring manager is either satisfied and coasting, or just not willing to put in the effort to make a change.
Your job with a comfortable buyer is to make him uncomfortable by showing up with some regularity (whether in person or virtually) and making him aware of an emerging strategy their competition is taking. Your goal is to help them understand that if they’re not moving ahead, they’re falling behind. But don’t spend too much time with these buyers. Know that when they become uncomfortable, if you’ve been visible, they’ll come to you.
3. Slightly uncomfortable and now willing to consider other options.
This buyer may have been comfortable but something has changed. This is the hiring manager who has become intolerant of something the incumbent provider is or is not doing. You’ve been calling and emailing her for months and she finally responds favorably. You’ve hit her at the right time.
Your job is to get in front her quickly, uncover her concerns, and demonstrate how you’ve helped resolve similar challenges with your clients. Tell these stories and offer to provide references for added credibility.
4. Actively seeking other options.
This hiring manager is uncomfortable with the status quo. The incumbent provider has been there so long that he fears he’s missing out (this stinks when your firm is the incumbent, by the way). This company is often the incumbent’s cash cow and they just haven’t been paying much attention to the hiring manger lately.

The incumbent’s vulnerability could be your gain if you take the right approach. Meet with this buyer, ask great questions about their recruiting and staffing process, make him aware of emerging best practices that you don’t see in place, and begin to build a relationship. This one may take a while to close, but slow and steady can win this kind of race.
You’ll have much greater sales success by categorizing your prospects and implementing the appropriate sales strategy. Then your job is to figure out their individual buying styles, preferences, and motivators to build trust and close new business.

Sales Soundbite: 3 Tips for Less Painful Strategic Planning

Posted December 3, 2015 by amybingham
Categories: Executive, Leadership, Management, Recruiting & Staffing

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Tis the season for eating, drinking, being merry…and strategic planning (ugh!). While the budgeting piece of the process can be painful (you submit your number, the boss says “nope, I need something better,” you submit your revision, the boss says “we’re not there yet,” you submit what you hope is the final revision…and the boss finally says “okay”). Whew, glad that’s over!
But right after you breathe a sigh of relief, you start feeling sick. How in the world are you going to make that number next year??
What you don’t want to do is what we’re often tempted to do as sales leaders: rely on the additional sales or recruiter headcount you’re budgeted to add to hit your numbers. In today’s hyper-competitive staffing environment, it takes 4-6 months to ramp a new producer. That means by the time you hire, onboard, train, and ramp, it’s the middle of the year before you really start to see any traction from the additional headcount. And that doesn’t take in to consideration what could happen with your existing headcount…turnover, promotions, etc. The one constant is change, and in my estimation, managing change in the producer ranks are what owners and executives spend 75% of their time on. Net net, you can’t rely solely on adding seats to make your numbers. You have to have a growth strategy and even more important, a solid execution plan (who will do what by when to make the strategy a reality?).

Beyond the org chart, here are the three most critical drivers of growth to consider as you develop your 2016 growth plan:
1. Sales Strategy
a. New markets
b. New industries
c. New verticals
2. Marketing Strategy
a. Grass-roots/local referrals
b. Social networking
c. Advertising
3. Recruiting Strategy
a. Creative sourcing
b. Improve fill rates
c. Increase contractor retention
Your plan doesn’t have to be a 25-page document – but it does have to be written down and revisited regularly to make sure key initiatives are implemented. So make those key decisions, get your plan on paper, and assign resources to bring it to life. You’ll make that number next year, and the year after, and the year after that…and you get the picture!

Sales Soundbite: all they need is the referral

Posted November 16, 2015 by amybingham
Categories: Uncategorized

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It seems so simple.  If we can just get our people to cross-sell between divisions, everyone wins!  After all, increasing our value by providing our clients more a broader variety of skills and solutions and creating double or triple our sales force sounds like the ideal growth strategy.

But staffing firms of all sizes and disciplines have struggled for years trying to get their sales teams to cross-sell services.  They create elaborate revenue-share plans.  They get creative with commission splits that become administratively complex to manage.  And still, these efforts rarely work as intended.   When “cross-selling” is successful, it’s typically at the enterprise level in a board room in the C-Suite where a more holistic solution involving all business lines is sold by senior sales leaders.

There are two big challenges we face when trying to cross-sell staffing services at the ground level:

Challenge #1:   Hiring Managers live in silos.

If sales are getting stuck because marketing efforts aren’t attracting the correct buyers or salespeople are pursuing the wrong buyers, those have little to do with cross-selling.

The person who buys IT staffing isn’t the same person who buys Finance & Accounting.  And it’s quite possible that neither knows – or cares – about the other’s condition enough to help you.  This is why you get a mostly blank stare and an oh-so-slight nod of the head when you enthusiastically mention “we also do (fill in the blank) staffing!”

Challenge #2:  Your sales team is terrified they’ll be asked about something they don’t understand.

Sales people will always avoid selling something they know very little about.  And they really dislike appearing incompetent in front of a customer.  So they won’t, no matter what the incentive.

How to overcome both of these challenges?  Keep the cross-selling objectives simple.  Teach your reps from division 1 to get the only information really needed for their sister division:  a name and a referral for an introduction.  When talking to their buying influence, they should only do two things:

  • Validate who the buyer is for (sister division’s) staffing within the organization and,
  • Ask to use the F&A buyer’s name as a referring source

That’s IT.  No more pumping hiring manager #1 for details about hiring manager #2’s staffing situation or asking for an introduction on the spot.  No more putting sales rep #1 in a situation where he may be asked about services and skills he isn’t familiar with.  Also, trying to train sales rep #1 on the services, solutions and skills from his sister division typically fails as well, so just keep it simple.

Finally, close the loop by making sure sales rep #2 makes contact with the prospective buyer using the hiring manager #1’s name (it doesn’t even matter if they know each other, just the referral helps).   If sales rep #2 makes a placement through sales rep #1’s efforts, pay a referral bonus.

Say goodbye to complex cross-selling programs that rarely work.  Manage the top two roadblocks effectively and keep the objectives simple.   All they need is the referral!

Sales Soundbite: HIIT Isn’t Just for the Gym

Posted November 3, 2015 by amybingham
Categories: Uncategorized

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High Intensity Interval Training – or HIIT, is now a familiar term in the world of sport.

Touted as the ideal solution for wanna-be gym rats who just can’t stick with a fitness program because the way they’ve been approaching it hasn’t produced the desired results, taking the HIIT approach to a workout has many benefits. It eliminates the boredom of tedious marathon-length cardio sessions, revs your metabolism so your body burns fat at a faster rate, and helps you get stronger faster.  The punchline:  you achieve your desired results in a shorter amount of time.

The staffing industry is nothing if not repetitive. It’s easy to work long and hard without seeing the right results.  And restlessness and boredom are a lethal combination that can derail our performance if we let it.

Time to shake things up! What would happen if we apply the HIIT principles to our roles in the staffing industry?  What if we approach every day, not as a marathoner, but as a sprinter (figuratively), running hard on a high-payoff task for a period of time followed by a brief period of downtime before the next race?

If you’re a recruiter or sales rep, try this experiment:   bang out 15-20 calls in an hour, then get up and taking a walk down the hall for a break.  Repeat the cycle throughout the day.  Do this for a week, then measure your results.  If the concept applies to work as it does to sport, you’ll be more productive (defined as submitting more candidates & improving your fill rates if you’re a recruiter, and setting more meetings and bringing in more job orders if you’re a sales rep).

If you’ve tried the HIIT approach to your work, what were your results??

Sales Soundbite: Coach Your Hiring Managers to Interview Like They’re Dating

Posted October 26, 2015 by amybingham
Categories: Uncategorized

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Selling is only 50% of the game in the staffing business.  If we don’t fill the job order we worked so hard to get, it’s all for naught.  Once we get a candidate set up to interview, it’s up to us to make sure the interview goes as well as possible.  And that goes beyond prepping the candidate (which is where we focus most).

At 5% unemployment, it’s a war for top talent.  Today’s employers have to court an A player. But old habits die hard, and unfortunately, too many hiring managers are still focused on “what can you do for me?” when interviewing a prospective candidate.  As a result, they miss an opportunity to acquire the best simply because they haven’t shifted their thinking to “let me tell you what’s in this for you!”

As staffing professionals, we have a tremendous opportunity to coach our hiring managers to think a little differently.  To help them make this shift, tell them it’s just like dating.  While we’re very interested in how the object of our desire can positively impact our lives – and we vet them carefully for the attributes we believe will improve our condition – we also understand they get a vote in the process and we have to put our best selves in front of them to entice them to come aboard. In short, they must SELL the job to the candidate – just as we do when we pitch a job order.

It helps to understand what sells so you can coach your hiring managers accordingly.

CareerBuilder’s 2015 U.S. Candidate Behavior Study of over 5000 people shows today’s job seekers value these three things the most:

  • 21st century technology, as evidenced by their desire for a mobile-optimized application process (so if the company’s tech-savvy, tell your hiring manager to sell that during the interview)
  • A strong brand and reputation (they should call attention to positive employee reviews of the firm)
  • Flexible schedules (if the company is family-friendly or allows telecommuting, they should promote that during the interview)

Help your hiring managers court your candidates during the interview process and you’ll make more placements!