SI Review: September 2013

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Expert’s Corner: Changing directions

Be prepared to fill clients’ unexpected needs even if it means altering your pitch

By Kay Colson

I recently accompanied representatives of a well-established staffing company on a call to pitch a new solution to an existing client. A great deal of effort had been devoted to preparing the presentation in order to articulate the value proposition and leverage the trusted advisor relationship built over many years. During the call, though, the client asked about the firm’s consultative services, which we had not come to pitch.

Consulting was not what we had come to sell. However, the skilled partners adjusted their materials to showcase its consultative and expanded capabilities — as well as the more complex staffing product they originally came to pitch. All the solutions discussed that day could significantly affect the client’s challenging delivery objectives. Each is valuable to this particular client — right now! What was fascinating was that the staffing firm’s consultative services was the draw. And if the staffing firm had not moved quickly and changed its pitch to give the client what it wanted, things might have been quite different.

In today’s incredibly fast-paced dynamic environment where there is a global shortage of skilled labor, smart staffing companies are developing expertise in services that clients require immediately. These customers know they are better served by staffing partners that can be trusted to deliver.

New value-add solutions. These solutions are the result of a dynamic environment, driving demand for business process outsourcing (BPO) or business process services (BPS). Smart staffing professionals, working closely with their clients who have real-time needs, are filling the gap by providing not just the people but also the experience and market knowledge, process development and management to accomplish the client’s objectives.

Evolving industry. The experience validates the fact that staffing continues to move far beyond brokering people and the skill of finding them. Staffing solutions have been evolving and adapting to new market demands for years. MSP and RPO models were developed for clients that needed to free staff up for more focus on other enterprise goals. The merger of these two solutions in order to leverage a trusted partner’s recruiting engine to find both potential employees and contractors is not a brand new idea. No doubt clients who embrace the concept with the right partner will certainly gain benefits from that leverage. At the same time, staffing firms need to adopt a few best practices to stay competitive.

Be nimble. This next level of solutions is likely best suited to mid-market clients that lack the staff and resources to move quickly. These solutions are sometimes short-term, which means bringing in the people with experience and building out the need, then transferring critical knowledge and work back to the client. In other situations, the need may require a long-term solution that, once built, remains in place under the partner’s people and direction to continue required service delivery. In either case this is BPO/BPS delivered by staffing professionals leveraging their growing expertise across industries.

For today’s business leaders who are under pressure to change swiftly, cut costs and improve performance, BPO/ BPS can be a perfect solution when delivered by a qualified partner. This solution solves the client’s dilemma without disrupting its current operations or established customer relationships. This level of service requires ingenuity, consultative ability, strong partnership and trustworthy expertise to assist with transforming critical business processes via the next level of business partnership.

So what are the lessons learned?

  • Through client engagements, staffing firms work with experts in a wide variety of niche areas that can be beneficial to other clients. That expertise is highly valuable when packaged and replicated for other clients with similar needs.
  • Listening is the single most effective and profitable sales tool. Make sure your sales team takes listening to the next stage — matching experience with need makes you a trusted partner to deliver higher value-add services.

It’s all about the old saying, “luck is being prepared when opportunity knocks.” More important, effectively recognizing and translating not only the people you deploy but your experience in applying what they do into true value is the best preparation of all! From there your track record will speak for itself.

Kay Colson is president of Resource Business Services Inc. She can be reached at kaycolson@solutionsatRBS.com

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