Nothing interests a CEO more than the topic of increasing revenue. Nothing. If anyone tries to tell you different, they may be fooling themselves. Sure, leading a company to greatness takes specific skills that are both innate and learned but the most important aspect of being a CEO is creating the pathways that will drive the company to dominate and/or thrive from a profitability standpoint.
Many elements need to be in place for a company to be considered masters at business development and winning clients is dependent on a solid reputation of making quality placements and developing mutually profitable partnerships with a client. But like all rewarding relationships, they are built on trust and dependability. The challenge is to find the opportunities to be trusted and to prove your company’s dependability.
That is why developing not just “best practices” but “super practices” in Business Development is key. Many small to medium sized search firms still depend on recruiters to do both business development (find your own job orders) as well as make placements. But most large firms have separate sales and business development and recruiting teams. In either case, sales and client development methodologies are vital to the organization’s growth and success. We have listed 7 Key Business Development Strategies to consider when developing and implementing your sales and marketing strategies because even today, “Job Order Is King”.
The “Lucky 7” Key Business Development Strategies:
1. Target prospects that have shared “Core Values” and not just “Industry or Niche Industry” expertise.
You have heard it a million times: “People do business with people they like and trust”. The same is true with companies: “Companies hire recruiting firms that they like and trust”. It is not enough these days to have just industry experience in common with clients. Businesses, hiring managers and Human Resources professionals want to make certain that their recruiting firm partners share the same core values, credos and “take” on people services and communication practices. Share your company philosophies on how you treat candidates, share your methodologies for approaching a search and, by all means, share how your services and values will benefit a potential client’s brand and industry reputation.
2. Share “Placement, Project and People Success” stories.
Whether you create, post and advertise a company marketing video that contains positive client testimonials, candidate accolades or a blog that describes a search assignment that was successfully executed, it is important to share this kind of information with potential clients. Ask yourself this question when putting together your sales and marketing materials, pitches and campaigns: “How can we best illustrate our staffing company’s success and proven track record with candidates, clients, employees and the community as a whole?”
3. Develop solid sales processes that are consistent and carried out by the entire sales team.
In his book titled, ‘Boxcar Millionaire’, Tom Black, known as America’s Greatest Sales Trainer, advises that success in selling is dependent on only four key elements:
• Your values. Are your values clear to your sales staff? Are your sales representatives able to communicate your value proposition effectively and effortlessly to potential clients? Are your company values understood to your prospective clients? Are they communicated on your website and social media footprint?
• The number of prospective clients you see. Does your sales staff have a sales strategy with clear cut business development requirements, i.e. prospecting calls, social media outreach and development activity, appointment setting and in-person meetings or responses to RFPs?
• The quality of your prospective clients. How about the quality of your prospective clients? Are they willing to partner with a staffing company? Will they pay for your services? Are the hiring managers easy to work with or do they have unrealistic candidate (or recruiter) expectations? Does your prospective client have a good reputation in the marketplace for treating employees well or will you have to fight tooth and nail to get candidates to interview?
• The quality of your presentation. Is your sales staff equipped with the right sales support materials like a sales and marketing video, a professional PowerPoint or Slideshare Presentation? Are your sales reps confident, show up on time for meetings and dressed professionally?
4. Consistent and ongoing sales and business development training.
Being a great and high achieving sales person does not happen overnight, nor does it happen by chance. Like a great athlete or entertainer, being a great salesperson takes practice, practice and practice. Invest in sales training to keep your sales staff excited and fresh.
5. Best Practices and Communications when approaching prospects via Social Media.
This one is important because “prospecting” via social media can be a fine line between a quality approach and unappreciated spam. Get to the point quickly. The approach needs to be brief, with professional language that is “benefit-selling” oriented. Why are you asking this person to connect? What is your value proposition and why would they want to schedule a meeting or phone call with you?
6. Pipeline. Pipeline. Pipeline.
Question: When do you develop new clients? Answer: Always and always. Clients are fickle and open job orders can be canceled or put on hold indefinitely. Never assume that you have no competition, not as a recruiter and not as a recruiting firm. Does your sales team have clear pipeline goals and reporting tools so that analytics can map out future strategic business development? This leads to the next point.
7. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Recruitment Technology.
Also known as CRM or Recruitment CRM. Your sales tracking technology is just as important as your Applicant Tracking System, so why not combine the two? A comprehensive CRM must have the intuitive ability to help strategize, drive, support and manage the entire sales process from cold call to close. Another CRM “must have” is marketing capabilities that are built into the system to support sales efforts such as email marketing, newsletter builders, lead generation tools and campaign management so you can track the success of a marketing initiative. Another important feature of a comprehensive CRM is the ability to create custom reports and dashboards so that individual salespeople and sales teams, marketing, management and executive staff have the ability to share analytics and create sales and marketing strategy utilizing that data.
Most highly successful recruiting firms (not just the big-ones, but the medium and small sized firms) have implemented intuitive recruiting software. The benefit of having a single solution Applicant Tracking System and CRM in one system is that you don’t have to implement multiple applications and you can manage the entire staffing business from recruiting to sales, marketing to accounting in one, centralized system.