08 May IT Staffing Sales: How to Transform New Reps into Kings (or Queens)
IT staffing sales is not an easy job. In fact, it is quite difficult, and that is why those that excel end up making quite a nice living. In a mature market where buyers are savvy, breaking down doors is a tough task to accomplish. However, becoming successful is a feat that new reps can achieve by building a base of self confidence and a can-do attitude. I remember a quote by Zig Ziglar , a historical motivational speaker, that talks to this very topic: “We all need a daily check up from the neck up to avoid stinkin ‘thinkin’ which ultimately leads to hardening of the attitudes”. Although a large part of selling relates to the mental state of the person, there are additional steps that, when applied, can help your team from becoming their own worst enemy in the sales process.
Here are 5 ways to position sales reps for greatness in order to become an IT Staffing sales star:
- Identify a Specific Offering with a pinpoint Value Proposition to Start your Attack. Most IT Staffing companies are able to staff all types of IT positions. In fact, most are willing to staff anything as long as the recruiting team can get to the resources in a timely fashion. Additionally, most vendors have a few areas of specialty that they outline on the web site under the “Services” section. Although it is common that as the vendors get more entrenched and continue to grow, the approach diverts from specialty to account management. The larger opportunity lies in the development of an account and becoming a primary vendor in major accounts that need tons of resources. It turns into the 80/20 rule after firms reach a critical mass. However, new reps that are on the hook for placing candidates and driving headcount, need to start in a place that will give them traction and low hanging fruit. The best way to do this is to pick an offering that can be defined as a “specialty” area or niche service to open new doors. When I first sold services, my niche was data warehousing and all of my clients saw my company as a DW specialist, even though we were a generalist company. This is a great strategy to get started and to differentiate out of the gate.
- Get Clear on your Target Accounts. A lot of new reps start out lacking direction and territory. It is VITAL that new reps have a list of companies that are considered “target accounts”. Each new rep should start with at least 100 companies that they will prospect to, knowing that the list will fluctuate in size and name over time. If done correctly, the list will include a chunk of companies (say 30) that are solid targets, free from tight vendor lists, and large enough to have IT staffing needs in excess of 30 contractors. The next 30 targets will be companies that you aren’t sure of, but should have an IT department that can accommodate at least 5+ contractors from your company. The remainder of the list is unknown, but brand named companies that offer up opportunity to place 1-3 contractors at any given time.
- Create a Penetration Process and Stick to it. This is likely the most important part of moving from average to outstanding. The best IT Sales reps have a solid sales foundation and are well organized. The foundation of the penetration process starts with a continual pursuit of names and targets, a consistent and timely touch point process to the market, and an intelligent communication system in place to resonate with each buyer persona. Stating that you are calling to “understand their environment” or “see if they have any openings” is a death sentence in that company. A well-thought out approach that can be implemented with precision is imperative to the success of a new rep. Reps that don’t follow a system will likely flounder unless they are well-networked to begin with. Oh yeah- all of this MUST be utilized within a CRM/SFA or ATS system. If you are sitting in excel sheets and paper processes, you are already way behind the 8-ball.
- Don’t be Stupid about your Buyer Persona. If you aren’t clear on the definitions of your buyers, you’ll have to rely on luck to win. In the highly competitive space of IT Staffing, luck will only get you so far, and then you lose. If you are selling to a Director of Application Development, know how they think, know what’s important to them, and know how they fit into the IT organization. If you are trying to connect with a head of Infrastructure, know the trends, know what the “cloud” is, and know what pains they feel. The balance of knowledge that you can bring to your buyer persona is critical in differentiating against your competition. If your message about your value proposition, combined with your buyer persona intellect isn’t on target, your credibility has already started to fall. And also remember, playing buzzword bingo will catch up to you.
- Stay Confident and Sell like you’re a King. The person on the other side of the phone can tell if you are new. They can tell within just a few minutes if you are new to the game and are desperate to open a new account. If you play sports, a really good analogy has to do with “acting like it is a regular occurrence”. For instance, you score a touchdown, you fly in for a dunk, you dig a hard-driven spike, you hit a home run- if you act all crazy like it’s a once in a lifetime event, that’s the impression people will get; you are new, so that’s why you act this way. If you are used to hitting home runs, you act like it’s no big deal. The same goes for selling. If you act like you sell nothing but $5 Million projects, then landing a meeting with your targeted buyer persona within a targeted account is just another daily event. You need to act like a king, to become a king.
Kevin O’Brien is a Co-Founder and Partner at echogravity. Kevin’s credentials include being a top recruiter for a international Big 8 consulting firm, top business development rep for a global consulting and staffing firm, and consulting with over 100 companies across North America.