SI Review: June 2013

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Power Seller

Wooing the Customer

Tackling client relationships as a group helps mutually beneficial alliances thrive

By David Findley

In staffing, client relationships thrive with a group effort. A successful sales structure keeps the client at the heart of all business activities. The team should share a panoramic view of potential sales opportunities while fostering organic customer growth and maintaining excellence in execution for existing clients. It is the responsibility of the entire team to invest in knowledge discovery and sharing throughout the relationship.

Of course, it all starts with wooing the client. In the ever-competitive staffing industry, you catch a client’s eye by showing off your ability to be resourceful. You can earn a potential client’s trust by demonstrating that you are not only a knowledgeable expert in the field, but you also possess a deep understanding of the client and its needs. Flexing the muscles of the entire team will illustrate your combined breadth of knowledge — not to mention a contagious feeling of teamwork and positive morale that empowers your staff.

Constantly keeping a finger on the pulse of the clients’ needs will support a mutually beneficial relationship and arm all members of the team with the acumen they need to successfully close a deal.

Know Your Team. The team is only as strong as its individuals. While maintaining a team spirit, it is important to identify where skills exist and where there are gaps. This not only relates to the evaluation of other team members — self-awareness is just as critical.

Knowing the lengths and limits of your own expertise, in addition to the proficiencies of those around you, will foster a strong team foundation.

Then comes courting the client. Day-to-day account managers are the front-line relationship builders. They call, visit and get to know the client. Forging these close ties provides a peek at the client’s ups and downs and helps guide relationship growth strategies by providing tactical details to executive leadership. Though their broader industry knowledge may be limited, account managers can use their detailed knowledge of the client to serve as a trusted resource in a more proactive, anticipatory way.

Whether pursuing a new sale or managing an ongoing account, there are four key questions that must be answered for each client: Who is hiring? Why are they hiring? Where is it being done? What is the wallet share?

Back to Basics. Many account managers spend countless hours reading about industry trends, but have trouble applying what they read to the actual day-to-day work. To combat this issue, account managers should get back to the basics. Good relationships start when you spend quality time with the client. Above all, these managers must be aware of their role and responsibilities — this self-awareness will help them assess their existing skills and know when to bring in another member of the team for guidance or support.

Executives become key to keeping the client. While account managers focus on opportunity fulfillment, executive leaders are tasked with opportunity creation. These leaders have a higher level knowledge of the industry, which arms them with the ability to see the bigger picture. Executives are able to create a strategic playbook that will propel client relationships forward, setting the team up for success from a long-term, sustainable perspective. Executive leaders must constantly evaluate how the team can provide value to the client. While it may not translate into a sale at that moment, it may be beneficial in the long term.

Maintaining a Balance. Many staffing executives are so inwardly focused they forget the success of the company is based on client acquisition and retention. They must know who the players are within their own organization and within that of their clients. They must know when to step in to support an existing account, and they must make themselves available to account managers to provide industry insights and guidance.

Regardless of an individual’s position on the sales team, it is critical it become an effective, productive unit that understands each member’s role, strengths and weaknesses. Once a team operates as a whole versus individual parts, sales success can be much easier to achieve. One strategy for fostering this type of team unity is by creating and continuously editing an account plan that ensures every team member is on the same page, operating under common goals and strategies and understanding each play to attract and retain clients. When this happens effectively, sales teams can achieve longstanding, profitable relationships that result in winning records for them and their clients.

David Findley is vice president of sales at Randstad Engineering. He can be reached at david.findley@randstadusa.com.

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