SI Review: November 2013

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Power Seller: Service Sells

Why serving, not selling, keeps our customers coming back for more

By Aanchal (Ann) Thakur

I am often asked how we keep closing on new customers when we don’t seem to sell. In fact, our customers — both new and old — satisfied with what we deliver, are increasing the scope of our responsibilities thanks to our mantra: focus on the “service only model.”

Our story. We obtained our first set of customers by asking them to give an opportunity to a supplier who has put upfront investment in its recruiting, onboarding and contractor care capabilities, promising to play by the program rules and showing we were willing to take on part of the program that was facing serious challenges. We got that chance and serviced them well. The next sale automatically followed, where the client gave us more business in additional job categories and geographies. After a year of hard work, the client gave us great recommendations, which in turn triggered more business. And so it went. The MSP that was managing the program introduced us to more clients that were going through supplier optimization efforts. It sounds fairly simple and it is. It’s a delivery model and it can sell itself.

Here’s how. Have a high volume/centralized delivery model aligned by industries, skill categories and geographies. Focus on improvements, better quality of workers, coverage of areas and responses to the customer and talent. This will sell itself.

Second, invest in knowing your customer and building a connection. What that means is understanding the geographical footprint, products, differentiators and values that the customer stands for. Create a marketing document which creates brand awareness amongst the talent pool. Proactively work on the most common job categories to identify candidates who identify themselves with the client’s brand and express desire to work on client locations. This results in increased quality of talent who will bring in better quality of work and stay through project assignments ultimately resulting in better program metrics.

Suppliers often get bogged down by metrics, but they are a fact of life. In my experience, candidate performance, bill rates and order fill rates are some of the most common metrics that buyers use to evaluate the staffing supplier’s performance. So are number of résumé submissions; number of interviews from those résumés; number of hires from those interviews; time to fill; and ratios related to rate-card compliance. Most vendor management systems have the capacity to track these metrics. It really is up to the MSP to decide which ones are more important to it, which in turn is dictated by the client. But staffing firms must build their strengths to match their customers’ priorities for speed, price and quality or customer service. Be prepared to demonstrate your results. Staffing services designed to match those priorities keep customers coming back for more.

At the end of the day, keeping your MSP and the end user happy should be your priorities. Don’t worry about getting face time with the customer. Provide the MSP and the customer what they need and you will be selling less and less. The rest will follow.

Know your customer. Knowing your customer is highly important to service the account efficiently. Know the customer’s expectations, know their definition of customer service, know the do’s and don’ts, which will increase the visibility in the program. Bottom line, play by the rules of the program. Therein lies the most important component of your service. And, in your service is the next sell.

[SIDEBAR]

Referrals through Metrics / Results …

  • Do well at one program and request referrals and recommendations into other programs. Absolutely be sure to share metrics on a timely basis to inform the contacts of your successful delivery model.
  • Once you have established your credentials with an MSP there is a high likelihood that it will introduce you to other workforce programs that it is managing within the same client or at other clients.
  • End clients that are name brands will help build credibility.

Aanchal (Ann) Thakur is a founding member of eTeam. She can be reached at athakur@eteaminc.com

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