SI Review: December 2012

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Power Seller

New Worlds, New Rules

Global staffing ushers in varied opportunities but do your due diligence

By Sean Garbett

With organizations increasingly exploring business opportunities beyond traditional borders, staffing organizations and managed services providers (MSP) each need to be aware of the global, regional and local market dynamics that impact clients’ hiring needs. Successful cross- border sales strategies in our industry require a holistic approach based on long-term client relationships. We must know their business, their challenges and their objectives to ensure that we can meet their needs. This requires a significant level of due diligence and foundational effort. Without it, staffing agencies and MSPs may find themselves contracting for services they cannot deliver, committing to expand a program to a part of the world where legal or cultural compliance makes it difficult — if not impossible — to achieve or replicate domestic success.

So how do you proactively avoid these situations? It is simple — communication and consistency.

Communication. Often, it can be difficult to establish the desired balance between local autonomy and global governance, which gives rise to challenges for ongoing communication and collaboration across country borders.

  • How you communicate with each market may need to change. A lot of details can get lost in translation. Your email volume is likely to increase threefold for the same tasks when you cross borders, and if you rely too heavily on email to connect with global resources, you’re missing an opportunity to build cross-border relationships.
  • Consider the benefits you gain in your regular team meetings. Now, imagine the potential of occasionally joining another team’s calls. Think of the anecdotes and updates about what’s going on in other countries, or in other parts of your business that you could take to client conversations. In my experience, producing these various perspectives creates cultural alignment and results in much more compelling sales messages.
  • To effectively forecast and advise on a client’s hiring initiatives requires collaboration and communication from both the client and your own organization. Anyone who has participated in a cross-border pursuit knows client sponsorship for cross border solutions is inconsistent at best. The most successful teams are able to identify sponsorship gaps and tailor sales messaging to close any gaps that exist.

Consistency. The engagement, deployment and delivery of the solution should inform how you sell, implement and engage with clients. Too often, the sales cycle focuses on hypothetical results rather than the client’s specific needs. This disconnect is challenging enough to overcome for a single market solution, but it becomes exponentially more difficult to surmount with multi-country solutions.

  • With an MSP program, for instance, it is imperative that conversations with the client are driven by its program priorities and geographic scope from the onset. Validate that the program priorities are well under- stood at the local-market level. The complexity of the client’s need often varies by market, and process mapping and governance models will not be successful if these complexities are not accurately understood.
  • Accounting for the local (in-country) aspects of a multi-country pursuit is a foundational aspect of successful delivery, and the introduction of your local resources should be scheduled earlier in discussions to maintain awareness of local nuances and alignment with the global approach being discussed. These solutions do differ at the local level in very specific ways, and selling a generic global solution that does not recognize the local delivery requirements often leads to unsustainable operating models with incorrect cost structures.

Some might suggest that communication and consistency are really one aspect of an informed go-to-market strategy — and they would be correct. Complex global solutions require a sophisticated, nuanced approach to communication. Your sales efforts will not be effective unless you maintain and evolve your communications capability regularly.

Sean Garbett is vice president, Global Center of Excellence, for TAPFIN, ManpowerGroup Solutions. He can be reached at sean.garbett@tapfin.com

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