Why aggressive sales tactics can backfire for your staffing firm

shutterstock_154694354These mantras are as familiar to salespeople as they are commonplace in the business world. Don’t take no for an answer. Create a sense of urgency. Keep calling. But while trying to land a big client or close a big deal can be daunting – especially when your prospective client is difficult to pin down – using aggressive, high-pressure sales tactics may not be the best course of action for staffing firms. If you aren’t careful, these tactics can backfire by angering potential clients, stressing out your salespeople and expending your company’s resources on dead-end leads.

Here are some sales scenarios in which your staffing firm may want to rethink a high-pressure approach.


Scenario 1
You can’t reach a prospect after leaving multiple voicemail messages. You increase the volume of calls.


Why it may not work: If decision-makers were easy to reach, selling might not be such as tough gig. But people are busy, and more often than not, they are difficult to get ahold of. For many companies, the answer is to call people more times and more often. What you’re not considering is that your prospect is probably already overwhelmed – by work, by demands on his or her time, by other sales reps trying to pitch their value proposition.


Try this instead: Yes, you need to connect with prospects to make your value known. But landing yourself on their blocked call list is not the answer. With so many channels available to communicate, your firm is better served by showing its value through a regular marketing program – whether it’s by sharing whitepapers, blogging or participating in speaking engagements. When your sales and marketing teams work in tandem to support your growth, you’ll be able to generate more inbound leads and word-of-mouth sales, which means less cold calling for your staffing firm’s employees.


Scenario 2

You have a client that seems ready to sign with you but who just won’t commit. You tell your contact that he or she can take advantage of your special pricing or deal, but only by signing by your deadline.


Why it may not work: If you haven’t worked with the company before, it most likely doesn’t have any real loyalty to you. Giving your prospective client a deadline may seem like a good way to urge action, especially when incentives are involved. But it can also backfire. Many people feel uncomfortable in high-pressure situations, and if your staffing firm is an unknown quantity to your prospect, putting that person on the clock can make you appear untrustworthy or solely financially motivated. Even if you promise reliable service and a great experience, have you actually showed the prospect that you are reliable, financially strong and flexible? Probably not.


Try this instead: One of the reason’s companies love the one they’re already with is because they can’t be sure that working with another vendor would be an improvement. Instead of pressuring prospects to take a chance on you, invest the time and resources to show them it’s worth it. Become allies with potential partners. Communicate with them regularly through multiple channels. If they seem unsure about taking the plunge to work with you, take time to feel out those concerns and then offer solutions. For example, could you partner with the company on a trial basis, or create a custom solution for the business?

You are asking your big prospects to make the time and the investment to work with your firm instead of a competitor. That means you also need to invest in them, even if it means waiting months or years for them to do a deal with your firm.


The competition for staffing firms is only getting more intense. By taking the pressure off your big-name prospects and finding new ways to win their attention and loyalty, you can help your firm’s sales team break through the noise, not contribute to it.


How your smartphone can help you sell: mobile sales tactics for your staffing agency

shutterstock_137597246Smartphones have permanently changed the way that people communicate, both personally and professionally. As the staffing industry becomes more global, these devices provide a means for agencies – and their sales teams – to take the sales cycle with them anywhere they go. And that means big opportunities for staffing agencies of all sizes.

How can your agency use smartphones to support a strong sales organization? Here are some areas where mobile can help you drive sales results.


Organizing leads

Does your staffing agency have a CRM system? If so, many systems also offer software for mobile devices so your sales team can access leads in real time. Salesforce, for example, allows your staffing agency’s employees to log in on their smartphones to view data and dashboards from the road.

Your smartphone’s camera is also a great resource for organizing leads. Many new apps work with a camera to scan business cards and store the information in your phone’s contacts. This gives your people an easy way to add photos, personal details and dates about their meetings and appointments for later reference, using their phone’s contacts list to update lead statuses as they change.


Connecting with prospects

Two-thirds of all emails are now being read on a mobile device? This means it is quite common for decision-makers to check and send work emails outside of traditional office hours.

Take advantage of off hours by encouraging employees to check and send sales-related emails from their phones when they know prospects are checking. If you have prospects that work overseas, for example, this communication can give your sales team valuable hours – even days – to prepare a response or close a deal before a competitor.


Holding meetings

Remember when cell phone communication was limited to dialing a number and calling? From texting to group chat to video conferencing, today there are now a variety of ways to communicate using your smartphone. One of the best advancements in mobile technology is the introduction of virtual meeting tools such as Skype, Tango, Google Talk and Apple’s FaceTime, which your team can use to get face to face with clients, leads and colleagues anywhere in the world, on the go.

Mobile apps such as GoToMeeting also include features such as screen sharing, with which you can share files with multiple meeting participants in real time. Most of these apps are free with a traditional smartphone data plan.


Closing deals

File-sharing applications are another great technology that has made the leap to smartphones. Need to share a presentation or Word document from a hotel room or while waiting in line for coffee? Dropbox and Google Docs offer these services for many mobile devices, making it possible for your employees to share everything from collateral to presentations to contract information with your clients in minutes.

Not only does this mean you’ll always have a pitch on hand when you need it, but this greater connectivity allows your people to close deals from just about anywhere. Just sign in and send.


When used to its full potential, smartphone technology can help your staffing agency reach decision-makers faster and more efficiently while giving you a new, flexible approach for sales and marketing. The best part is: this amazing sales tool is probably already in the pockets of the majority of your staffing agency’s employees.

Looking for other ideas to help you build your staffing agency’s mobile workforce? Check out these 7 must-have apps for salespeople via Inc.om.


Overcoming price objection in the sales cycle – how your staffing agency can show its value

shutterstock_101339566“Can you match your competitor’s price?”

No matter how experienced your salespeople are, hearing this question from your prospects  is never easy. Although price objection in the sales cycle is not a new challenge for staffing agencies, many U.S. businesses have become extra price sensitive since the economic recession, and thus, more vocal about their cost concerns. How can staffing agencies continue to sell their value to customers in today’s price-competitive market?

Here are some strategies to help you overcome customer price objection.


Specialize, specialize, specialize


Staffing services have largely become a commodity, which means sales teams at staffing agencies must work harder to define their company’s unique value. How can you set your services apart? First of all, you need to be unique.
The bigger your pool of competitors, the easier it is for prospects to weigh your services on price – apples to apples. By focusing on a specific and defined niche – be it technical staffing, health care staffing or financial recruiting – you make it that much easier for your sales team to explain your unique value and why prospects should pay more for what you provide. The more specialized you become – for example, only providing health care staffing services for small practices – the easier it is for your business to break away from the pack.


Be the better problem-solver


If two companies are selling the same product, you may buy from company A because it offers the lowest price, even if company B has better customer service. But what if company B assembled the product for you, whereas company A does not offer that option? Would this change your answer?

When you are in the services business, you need to think like company B. There are always going to be lower cost options. But if company B is offering greater convenience, it is giving the customer an intangible benefit that could outweigh price objection, especially in cases where convenience, productivity or other issues are a problem for the customer.

How do you know which problems to solve for your prospects? Look at your existing customers to see what problems they care most about – from time savings to administrative costs to employee relations. Could you offer whitepapers, training programs or other tools and resources to help them solve those problems better? What intangible benefits can you offer to outweigh cost? By becoming a better problem-solver, you are making a strategic decision to become a long-term partner for your clients instead of treating them like just another transaction.


Attract better temp candidates with these easy website updates

shutterstock_sendingonlineresumeYour website doesn’t just tell the world who you are and what you do. It tells them what you are like as a company. For staffing agencies, businesses that succeed by attracting great temp employees, this third component is exceptionally critical.


Here’s a quick test. Visit your staffing agency’s website, as well as those of two or three competitors, browsing through each one as if you were the prospective temp hire. Now consider the following.


  • Is the information you are looking for easily accessible?
  • Are you able to get an idea of what the position will be like?
  • Is it clear what’s expected of you as a job candidate and potential employee?
  • Was your reaction to the content positive, neutral or negative?
  • Are you left with a lot of questions?


This exercise is so effective is because it’s natural for employers to focus information on their websites around client-facing information – i.e., who you are and what you do. About Us, Contact Us and Services Offered are all high-ranking pages packed with critical information for your audience. But is your Careers or Employment section getting equal billing? Have you spent the necessary time developing content to build a pipeline of attractive temp candidates? If not, there’s no time like the present


Making these three changes to your website will help you attract a steady flow of high-quality temp candidates.


1) Be mobile responsive. Mobile accounts for nearly 30 percent of web traffic for the staffing industry, according to recent data. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile devices, you are losing a significant number of potential job candidates who might otherwise apply. Moreover, you may have trouble filling jobs quickly because temp candidates don’t have access to your website content on the go.


2) Give people options for connecting with you. Some people visiting your website may be great potential hires but aren’t a good fit with currently available positions. But you don’t have to miss out on these future prospects. Simply encourage jobseekers to interact with you in other ways, for example, by signing up for job alerts, email newsletters and blog content. These touch points will keep desirable candidates on your radar – and you on their radar — so that whether they match a job down the road or they refer a friend who does, you still benefit.


3) Share non job-related information. Recognize the importance of providing helpful content for job seekers outside of job posts. This could include information people need in their job hunt or data about your industry, from career planning advice and new industry trends to interview tips. This will give jobseekers an incentive visit your website more often and stay longer once they get there.


4) Sell yourself. Do you really want interview job applicants with zero personality? Of course not. Yet too many career pages read like dull resumes, simply listing job openings with form lists of bulleted responsibilities. If you want to attract temp hires who are dynamic and talented, you need to sell them on your company. Share the perks, pay rates and benefits of your positions, including descriptions of the type of candidates you are looking for and testimonials from clients or former employees. This will help you engage the right type of candidates, and more of them.


Highly skilled job seekers know they are in demand, and your staffing agency’s website must offer more than a list of job posts to keep their interest. These simple web updates can give candidates a better idea of what makes your agency special, inspiring them to take the next step.


Bad language: phrases to avoid using with your staffing firm’s clients

shutterstock_talkingtoclientThey are simple phrases, ones you may not think twice about using. But the words you use with your clients play a big part in how your staffing firm and its employees are perceived in the marketplace.


Most businesses take steps to ensure their employees are communicating with clients in a timely and professional manner. But that doesn’t mean your employees aren’t unintentionally using words and phrases that can create the perception that your firm is unprofessional, inexperienced or insincere.


Here are everyday phrases that could be undermining your credibility and should be avoided in client communications.


The noncommittal: I’ll try / I think / Hopefully


You don’t want to make false promises to your clients. But using weak, noncommittal phrases such as “I’ll try” and “I think” is not the answer. The phrases are full of uncertainty, evoking the opposite of confidence from your clients. Your clients don’t want to hear that you “think” you can provide a solution or that someone is “trying” to work through their concerns. Instead, simply tell the client or prospect what you will do to meet their needs and how you plan to address issues if they do arise.


The subtly negative: No problem / That’s OK


Your clients aren’t an inconvenience. Yet seemingly innocent phrases such as “no problem” can have the unintentional effect of making people feel like one.

If a client calls with a last-minute staffing request or has a question about an invoice, for example, you might respond with “no problem” to indicate that you are happy to help. But using the word “problem” suggests that the person’s request might have been an annoyance. Answering with “my pleasure,” and even thanking clients for their business after resolving an issue, will help people remember interactions with your firm in a more positive light.


The know-it-all: You should / You need to / Like I said


Nobody likes a know-it-all. Sure, you want companies to partner with your staffing firm because they respect your expertise and the recommendations you can provide. Yet being the expert can easily become condescending when you tell the client, “You should organize your contract staffing budget this way,” or “You need to hire our firm to work on your resource planning.” This language could also offend clients or prospects by implying they haven’t considered some solutions or suggestions before, when there may have been other challenges in play. As an alternative, phrase your recommendations with if-then statements: If you do X … then you can improve Y. Another option is to say, “We recommend doing X, Y and/or Z in order to achieve your desired outcome.”


Every time your employees send an email, make a client phone call or meet with a client or prospects, they are communicating on behalf of your firm. Encouraging employees to be more conscious of the language they use can go a long way in building your agency’s reputation for professionalism.

Statement-of-work contracting is on the rise: what it means for your staffing agency

shutterstock_outsourcehiring copyThe growth of contract employment reflects a larger shift in the way that companies are operating. By using a blended workforce model that includes both direct-hire employees and contract workers, companies enjoy greater flexibility, leading to cost savings and other benefits.


Statement-of-work (SOW) contracting takes the idea a step further by giving your clients the opportunity to employ contract workers on a project basis rather than on number of hours worked. Potential benefits include everything from cost savings to the ability to attract more highly skilled talent.


If your staffing agency isn’t currently using SOW contractors, here are three reasons to begin including them in your hiring mix.


1.     A new source of profits

Some recruiters and staffing agencies have avoided contract hires because they believe they are not as lucrative as direct-hire recruiting. Yet as more companies outsource specialized projects – often because can’t afford to hire a full-time employee – they are looking to staffing firms to find this skilled labor for them. As a result, staffing agencies can charge a premium to connect companies with competitive SOW contractors, especially in areas such as IT, health care and engineering. Having SOW contractors on staff also gives your agency a way to offset declines in seasonal hiring, as these employees are paid by the project and are less affected by seasonal demand.

2.     Long-term viability

In June 2013, contract staffing reached its highest point since 2006, with 2.7 million active U.S. contractors, according to Staffing Industry Analysts. This spike shows that more companies now view contract workers as a way to control costs, secure competitive talent and keep overhead low. Thus, staffing agencies now have two options: offer hourly and SOW contracting services for clients, or risk losing business to other recruiters. Choosing the former allows you to serve as a single-source provider your clients and better support them as their needs evolve.

3.     A better pool of talent

Highly specialized workers are gravitating toward contract positions for their unique benefits. Some see these positions as an opportunity to improve work-life balance, try more and different types of work and break away from a typical nine-to-five work schedule. Staffing agencies can use this trend to their advantage by snapping up these workers who don’t fit into the traditional direct-hire model to build a strong network of skilled contractors for clients.


By employing full-time hires and SOW contract employees, your staffing agency can provide clients with more flexibility while taking advantage of the growing number of contract employees that are now part of the U.S. workforce.



10 types of employees you need to fire immediately

shutterstock_lazyworkerHire slowly and fire quickly is a well-known business maxim. But when your agency is facing a talent shortage, it’s easy to fall into the reverse pattern, filling positions quickly and, worse, letting bad hires linger too long in your organization.


While it may seem harmless, keeping one bad apple can quickly have a greater impact on your organization than just one individual’s performance. A bad employee can:


  • Contribute to bad employee morale
  • Lower the productivity of other team members
  • Sabotage the success of policies and processes
  • Cause others to ignore safety rules and protocols
  • Damage your reputation with clients


Knowing the signs of a bad hire will help you quickly identify the employee who is a wrong fit and minimizes these consequences. Here are 10 types of employees quickly part ways with.

1.     The employee with “old job” syndrome. Past job experience should be a valuable asset for a new employee, but that experience can work against your business when someone is reverting to “how we did things at my old job.” Employees who feel that they always know better can undermine processes and policies that you have put in place for a reason. If a new employee is refusing to do things your way, show that person the door

2.     The all-day breaker. Breaks are important and offered for a reason. People need time to blow off steam and socialize with their colleagues, which ultimately contributes to a stronger culture and increased productivity. However, people who don’t differentiate between break times and the regular workday are not productive, whether they are checking Facebook in meetings, texting all day at their desks or making more personal phone calls than client ones. This employee does need a break – but a permanent one.

3.     The provoker. Disagreements among staff are often a positive and necessary function of organizational creativity and innovation. But constant arguments will cause rifts in your culture, especially if one person is always the instigator. If you are getting complaints about a new hire being pushy or confrontational with colleagues, the situation is not likely to change.

4.     The employee with time management issues. Punctuality and meeting deadlines are musts for any employee in a customer-facing role, and especially temporary staff who are representing your business. If a new hire is showing up tardy or unprepared, it may be time to tell that person to stop showing up at all.

5.     The blamer. Explanation or excuse, this person always has someone or something to blame for dropping the ball or producing less than quality work. Employees who don’t own up to their mistakes aren’t good team players, and as a result, won’t inspire the trust of your customers or their colleagues. Even the most talented employee isn’t worth breeding negativity to keep.

6.     The dishonest employee. This one is a no-brainer. Yet dishonest employees can be harder to pinpoint than other bad hires due to their attempts to be discreet about bad behavior. If you find out an employee is being untruthful or hiding things from supervisors or colleagues – even if they are small thing – trust your instincts and get to the bottom of it. If the lies continue to add up, it’s time for that employee to move on.

7.     The needy employee. Job negotiations should take place before a new employee comes on board. Yet some people wait to make additional asks after they are hired, from more vacation days to a better computer and a bigger expense account. Those who always needs one more thing to accomplish a job and can’t work with the resources at their disposal aren’t a good fit.

8.     The distractor. Distractions are everywhere, from funny cat videos in your inbox to friends updating their Twitter feeds. The only thing worse than the person who is easily distracted (see the employee who is always on break) is the person who distracts other people from getting things done. Is the new woman always stopping by for a “quick” 30-minute chat or encouraging other employees to leave early or take a longer lunch break?

9.     The box checker. You might overhear the box checker say things like, “I’m just building my resume,” or “I only want to be here for a year.” This person is using his or her position as a steppingstone to bigger and better things. This is fine for some organizations, but if you’re looking for a long-term team member who is going to contribute to your growth, there are better people to invest your time and money into.

10.  The bad attitude. This person comes with a stellar resume and great references, and is probably likeable. But within weeks, he or she is complaining about everything from the schedule to the manager to the office coffee. A bad attitude is contagious and isn’t likely to improve, and firing quickly is critical to keeping your culture healthy and positive.


Sometimes making a bad hire is unavoidable, not matter how much due diligence you’ve done. The important thing is to recognize when someone is a bad fit and be honest about it, so both parties can move on.


The BEST day of the week to do anything related to business

shutterstock_192632465_daysoftheweekIf you ever refer to Wednesday as hump day, down an extra cup of coffee on Mondays or avoid scheduling meetings on Fridays, you already know that the day of the week can affect your attitude on the job.


Mondays are hectic. Mid-week is filled with meetings, and on Fridays, people are thinking about the approaching weekend. But while these weekday highs and lows may be unavoidable, they don’t have to work against you as an employer. In fact, studies show that companies can use many weekday norms to their advantage by taking certain actions – from sending emails to sharing bad news – on certain days.


Here is a quick breakdown to help you plan your most effective workweek ever.


MONDAY – Fire an employee.

Many variables factor into the timing of when to let an employee go. That said, a large contingent of employers say that it is best to let an employee go early in the week. Not only can people get started right away on the job hunt, but firing people early in the week allows them to work with your HR team to get lingering questions and concerns answered as they arise, as opposed to a Friday, when they could be left hanging until the following week. Firing on a Friday also gives people time to stew over the weekend and may lead to a heated confrontation come Monday.


TUESDAY – Schedule a meeting.

Having trouble getting that big meeting on the calendar? Minimize scheduling conflicts by setting it for Tuesday afternoon. Recent data shows that Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. is the time period that most people accept meeting requests, potentially due to a jump in productivity and focus after Monday’s chaos. It’s also among the most popular times (along with Wednesday and Thursday afternoons) for people to read emails and direct mail. Coincidence?


WEDNESDAY – Post for new hires.

Recruiters take note: Halfway through the workweek is prime time to post that new job opening. Although many employers like to post new jobs on Mondays, reposting in the middle of the week could help you break through the noise to capture the attention of top talent. Even better? Post at the beginning and middle of the week to boost visibility.


THURSDAY – Deliver bad news.

There is never a good time to share bad news. But if you need to get the message across, most experts agree to wait until later in the day and toward the end of the week. This helps ensure that people don’t mull over the news all week but still have time to voice concerns. Thursday is also an ideal day to make a job offer for this reason, as you’re giving the candidate time to think through the offer without giving him or her the entire weekend to weigh competing options.


FRIDAY – Post on Facebook.

Don’t burn through your good social media posts too early in the week. New data from Adobe’s 2014 Social Intelligence Report found that Friday is the day when people are most likely to share, like and engage with posts from company pages, earning about 15.7 percent of the week’s total post impressions.


Try these tips and see how your week shapes up.





The top concerns of employers hiring new college grads

shutterstock_interviewSummer is here, which means a new batch of college graduates is gearing up to join the workforce. For the majority of employers, the seasonal influx of new talent is welcome news, as 57 percent of companies plan to hire new graduates this year, according to a new study from CareerBuilder and CareerRookie.com*.


But are new graduates as prepared for the real world as they need to be? Twenty-four percent of employers surveyed say no, indicating that they don’t feel today’s institutions are providing adequate preparation for the jobs they need to fill. Some concerns cited by employers include:


  • There is too much emphasis on book learning vs. real-world learning (53 percent).
  • Entry-level roles are becoming more complex (26 percent).
  • There is not enough focus on internships and apprenticeships (16 percent).
  • Technology is changing too quickly for academics to keep up (16 percent).

If your staffing firm is recruiting new graduates, ensure you are hiring candidates that today’s employers will find attractive. That means looking for graduates with a good mix of academic and real-world experience.


While job history and internships are important factors in hiring decisions, today’s companies place a high value on candidates who can bring real-world knowledge and learning to their roles. This relevant business experience could come in the form of volunteering, extracurricular activities, travel abroad or other activities that show personal efforts.


The same goes for graduates who take steps to hone their skillset for a particular field outside of the classroom. Such candidates are not only more desirable to employers who are looking for employees who are proactive, but those candidates also prove they are prepared to adapt to new technologies, whether it’s by attending technical workshops or maintaining a blog about industry trends.


(*The online survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder among 2,138 hiring managers and human resource professionals ages 18 and older between Feb. 10 and March 4, 2014.)


Workers’ comp: 3 things you aren’t doing that could hurt you

shutterstock_workerscompBy law, your agency — not your clients — is charged with providing a safe work environment for your temporary employees. This means ensuring they have the right equipment and training to do their jobs safely, and providing workers’ compensation coverage to protect them in the event of injury or disability.


Failure to provide workers’ comp coverage can result in costly penalties for your business. Yet deliberate negligence is rarely what gets staffing agencies into trouble, as state and federal laws clearly spell out the minimum coverage you need to provide.


However, doing the minimum often leads to back-office errors and poor recordkeeping — mistakes that cost employers a lot of money. Here are three mistakes you may be making with your workers’ compensation program that could be costing you money.


The mistake: You don’t screen temporary employees.

Screening temporary employees may seem to be an unnecessary and added cost, especially when you are regularly adding and turning over staff. But it’s worth it to pay a little more in upfront costs to reduce work-related injuries, keep your insurance premiums low and ensure that employees are properly trained for the jobs they’ll be performing.

The fix: Screen your temporary employees, as well as your full-time staff. A thorough screening should include a background check and prior injury history. And depending on the job requirements, additional screening may also be appropriate — for example, a motor vehicle records check is important for candidates whose role will involve significant driving.


The mistake: You don’t have the proper state coverage.
No matter what industry you’re in or how careful you are, accidents happen, and no business is immune. Carrying the proper workers’ comp coverage for every state you operate in will keep your agency protected when the worst occurs.

If you’re operating in multiple states, your agency needs to be familiar with the variations in workers’ comp laws in each state you are doing business in, federal laws and classification codes for your industry or industries. For example, you will not be able to place temporary workers in other states if you have a single state, state fund or assigned risk policy. Coverage needs also vary for different industries due to different levels of risk.

The fix: If you are running your own back office, it is essential that you know and follow state rules and regulations for all regions in which you do business, both to avoid being sued for employee negligence and to ensure you know your legal rights if a claim is filed. Visit workerscompensation.com to learn about the laws for your state(s).


The mistake: You don’t plan for employee fraud.
You probably trust your employees and it’s part of why you hired them. It’s also why many agencies can’t believe that one of their staff members would file a fraudulent workers’ comp claim.
Although studies show that just 1 to 2 percent of workers’ comp claims are fraudulent, false claims can drastically increase your premiums. Without clear processes in place to collect and record information for workers’ comp claims, you are an easy target for fraudulent activity, as you are less likely to see the warning signs.

The fix: Do your due diligence so that you recognize the signs of workers’ comp fraud. Red flags include not having witnesses to the accident, conflicting accounts of what happened, late reporting and difficulty reaching the claimant. While these are not necessarily definite indicators of fraud, two or more red flags in one incident is cause to investigate further.


Workers’ comp coverage is one of the largest expenses for staffing agencies. Yet the cost is even higher if you aren’t proactive about how you maintain coverage for employees. Knowing how costly errors originate will help you adjust your behaviors to better serve your employees and improve productivity.