How to Improve Sales in an IT Staffing Organization
Job growth in the IT sector is outpacing all other sectors and expected to grow 13% by 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The opportunity for jobs is one thing, filling them is quite another. This recent Wall Street Journal article noted that unemployment in the IT sector dropped to a 20-year-low, forcing employers into a "historic" fight for people to fill critical roles. For the staffing industry, these dynamics will put many firms at risk. If you don't have the right people to help your clients, they'll look elsewhere. The staffing organizations that will excel in this unique environment will have tools, processes, and content behind how they address these customer and candidate dynamics.
When we work with executives, we are often asked what their counterparts are doing in other companies to improve sales execution and drive revenue. In the staffing industry, we have a very specific point of view on how organizations rise above these shifting market dynamics and arm themselves with the ability to differentiate and become elite.
The Staffing Organization
In staffing organizations, there are four components supporting the revenue growth of the organization.
- Customers – the people to whom you are selling your candidates and services
- Account Executives – the people in charge of finding open positions
- Recruiters – the people in charge of finding the people and retaining them
- Candidates – the people signing on with you to find them a job
These four groups make up two congruent sales processes. You are developing relationships with companies, trying to get the first shot at their open positions. At the same time, you have a team of people filling the pipeline with qualified candidates that will be pivotal to the success of your customers.
If you don't account for the complexities of these processes, and help your people maneuver within them, your organization runs the risk of being irrelevant and lost in the sea of sameness, while your competitors differentiate, iterate and drive value for clients, some of whom may be your former clients.
How Elite IT Staffing Organizations Use the Quadrants of Sales Effectiveness
Our Quadrants of Sales Effectiveness provide a mechanism for understanding these industry complexities and how to address them in your organization. Elite IT staffing organizations have the content, tools and processes behind these quadrants fortified, adopted and reinforced. Below, we've outlined key requirements for success in the areas.
Elite staffing organizations have cross-functional alignment around the business problems they solve and how they solve those problems differently and/or better than the competition. Account executives and recruiters are consistent in how they're creating and capturing value within their client organizations. They also use that value and differentiation to deliver and retain top talent for those clients.
What's Needed: A Value Framework that provides "one source of the truth" and a mechanism to enable consistent client and recruiter conversations across the organization, on both the national level and within local offices.
Elite staffing organizations have clear definition around who’s doing what and when, internally in your organization and externally with the candidate and the client. Delineating roles and responsibilities provides accountability and much-needed checkpoints for managers or department heads to intervene if problems arise. When there’s accountability, there is clarity.
When a staffing organization excels at sales execution, its people have a firm understanding of how your customer uses your services and how those services deliver value. How does your buyer buy? Your sales process needs to account for that answer. Also, key sales and recruiting stages need to be aligned to the buying process. Elite staffing firms bring recruitment activities forward earlier in the process. This action improves alignment, execution and ensures that you consistently create and capture value for the client.
What's Needed: A road map that details the critical tasks your people are responsible for as client and candidate stakeholders engage with your organization.
IT staffing organizations typically have local market managers who are responsible for sales, operations and managing and retaining their people. It's a difficult job that can be compared to drinking water from a fire hose, every day. At the same time, they are the only people accountable for the forecast. They solely take on the burden of delivering the number. It's an underlying challenge in many IT staffing organizations and one that can have lasting impact. Elite staffing organizations have processes in place that extend accountability of the forecast throughout the organization. As a result, people are focused and accountable for delivering the number and higher-ups have the information needed to run the business. This accountability also comes with ensuring team members are able to spend time where it matters. The most successful staffing firms enable and equip managers, recruiters and salespeople in a way that makes them able to spend their time on the high-value activities that align to the organization's desired business outcomes. They know where to spend their time and perhaps more importantly, where not.
What's Needed: A Management Operating Rhythm® that provides the cadence for which to manage internal activities with the external selling and/or recruiting motion, as well as "a plan to make the plan" that details the top clients, key competitors and how the salesperson will deliver on the forecast.
Too often staffing firms take this quadrant for granted. As the old saying goes, the cobbler's children have no shoes. However, when the fight for talent is so fierce, dismissing the importance of your processes behind how you attract, coach, and retain your own talent is a fundamental mistake. You need a clear definition of the qualities and behaviors that make people successful in specific roles in your company. Let's say you are hiring people right out of college. How are you going to grow them so they're able to succeed in your organization? Do you think these green hires are all of a sudden going to be able to sell national accounts? Elite staffing firms don't live in the miracle cloud. When you define what success looks like in your key positions, you’ll be able to effectively source, evaluate and develop the role moving forward.
What's Needed: Defined success profiles for your key roles that detail the competencies and behaviors needed to excel in the role.