SI Review: May 2013

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Power Seller

How to Be a Big Dog

Bridging staffing’s digital divide between the old and the new sales folks

By Miner Smith

The saying “the only constant is change” has definitely been true of staffing industry sales, which has gone through one evolution after another. Driven by advances in technology, selling in the staffing space has changed. Days of scouring jobs in classifieds, poring over business journals and pressing flesh at Chamber of Commerce meet­ings to develop sales leads are a thing of the past. The Rolodex, file cabinet and “smile-and-dial” were uprooted by Internet, social media and text messaging. Cultivating sales through face time has been replaced by acro­nyms like ATS, CRM, MSP and VMS.

While relationship selling will never go out of vogue, New Dogs are creating relationships through the digital land­scape. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter combined with email, text and instant messaging provide access to anyone, anywhere at any time. New Dogs use productivity enhancing technologies, and are armed with intel that used to take Old Dogs an extended period of time to develop.

But here’s the thing about Old Dogs — they booked billions in sales and built an industry with just a phone, lunch reservations and persistence. So those Old Dogs must have had some great tricks. As tempting as it may be to dismiss those tricks as relics, there are a few things worth remembering.

Whether the sales process is driven by technology or telephone, a person will decide whether you get the busi­ness. Old Dogs were masters at getting decision makers to say yes, while New Dogs are masters at identifying decision makers, accessing them quickly and establishing influence. One of staffing’s biggest opportunities is bridging that gap between Old Dogs and New Dogs. Today’s most successful salespeople are those who combine tricks to close more deals. These are the Big Dogs.

Let’s consider three tips to make more Big Dogs.

Focus on ABCs. Utilize the full array of available resources to keep activity focused on ABCs, and provide the opening to say “yes.” There’s a great quote from the movie Glengarry Glen Ross: “These are the new leads. These are the Glengarry leads. And to you they’re gold, and you don’t get them. Why? Because to give them to you would be throwing them away. They’re for closers.” Every Old Dog knows that quote, and lives by the ABCs of sales: Always. Be. Closing. Big Dogs focus every activity on closing the deal — whether it’s an old school cold call or lunch meeting, or a new school LinkedIn request or text message. Every activity builds on the last, and gives targets the opportunity to say “yes, I’m ready to do business with you.”

Become a person they trust. Less than 10 percent of people trust what companies say about themselves. Who do they trust? They trust people that they trust. Read that again. PEOPLE who decide whether to do busi­ness with you don’t trust what your company says, but they do trust what others say about you. So what’s a Big Dog to do?

Start by honoring your commitments and helping clients become better at what they do. Answer ques­tions and provide insight. Regularly send articles, videos or other helpful infor­mation. Show you know what’s happening in their industry. All of this helps makes clients better at what they do, and moves you beyond being a Salesperson into a partner. Go a step further and get people they trust to become your advo­cates. Leverage social media to show­case your common connections and great reputation.

Close the deal, then shut up. Once the deal is closed, Big Dogs shut up. In this era when many people broadcast every thought, sometimes it’s hard to stop talking, but that’s exactly what’s required to close and keep more deals. You have gotten them to say “yes.” All you can do by talking more is give them a reason to rethink. So when the deal is done, thank the client, then let your delivery do the talking.

By leveraging a legacy of successful staffing sales practices, and applying them across the evolving digital land­scape, you can be the Big Dog who knows all the tricks that it takes to ensure the success of your clients, your company and yourself.

My final tip? Be prepared; things will change. Again. 

Miner Smith is executive vice president of U.S. Staffing at Pyramid Consulting Inc. miner.smith@pyramidci.com

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