Four Foundational Strategies for Boosting IT Staffing Sales Revenue


Joe Donna, President of Sales Oxygen, a sales consulting firm, compares today’s staffing firms to Indiana Jones in pursuit of the Holy Grail – every day of every quarter, these businesses are frantically looking for opportunities to boost their IT staffing sales revenue, but they rarely find that “hidden gem” of sustainable growth and stable, predictable, sales revenue.

Joe should know – over the past 15-years Sales Oxygen has consulted with CEO’s and business leaders of many IT staffing and solutions firms, as well as other SMB businesses, as a trusted advisor, focusing on revenue strategy and sales growth. He discovered through his interactions with clients that most business leaders don’t fully consider how their current involvement and investment in selling is driving their success.

“We have found that many business leaders have not been informed about current sales best practices available in the marketplace,” comments Joe. “Traditional approaches such as cold calling and direct mail fail to produce the results that businesses need.”

Sales Oxygen performs extensive research and provides clients with critical information on how companies in many industries are improving their revenue models. With this experience, Joe has found four foundational strategies for boosting revenue specific to IT Staffing firms.

#1: Sales Opportunity Profitability

Not many companies take the opportunity to measure critical Key Performance Indicators, such as profit per rep or sales team. How much cost, effort and internal resources are spent in the pursuit of each sales opportunity? Which team members and types of opportunities produce the most profit (or the least)?

Through cost assessment and a few simple reports, companies can significantly improve their return on investment, and their return-on-revenue. When companies begin to assess sales opportunity profitability, many interesting results tend to surface.

For example, a $10 million company selling staffing and consulting services might easily find that over 50% of its opportunities prove to be unprofitable based on resources used and sales rep compensation.  If this company ran an analysis to quantify how much overhead it takes for the business to support selling efforts, they’d be able to determine an overhead cost metric in addition to their traditional revenue metrics around consultant hourly cost and billing. This will result in many process improvements to achieve higher profitability, including eliminating extraneous sales costs, revising the compensation plan or even walking away from the customer.

#2: Customer Profitability

Given improved focus on sales profitability, the next step is to focus on how customers contribute to revenue profitability.  Many small and mid-sized staffing firms target mega-businesses like WalMart, McDonalds or other large firms in hopes of generating substantial product volume. However, given these firms’ procurement practices, many staffing firms are forced to sacrifice profit in order to sell their service.

To avoid this risk, it’s critical to perform target market and customer profitability analysis.  The idea is to target better, more profitable customers by defining better criteria about what makes them a “good” customer.  A smaller number of highly profitable customers can produce a significantly better return on revenue. Capturing KPI’s around customer profitability makes it easier to target the right customers. So to build better valuation in your company, begin by building better customers.

#3: Disciplined Forecasting

Sales forecasts are typically created by the business sales leader in conjunction with sales reps. Forecasts are then updated in weekly sales meetings where reps express their opinions about each opportunity in their pipeline.

However, forecasts frequently fail to predict actual revenues in a consistent fashion. For example, in most forecasts, deals are given a probability percentage of success based on how far into the sale cycle a deal has progressed. However, a simple win/loss analysis can uncover the reality that many deals are lost when the sales rep indicated they had received a “verbal” commitment from the customer!

Best practice sales forecasting requires a disciplined, forward-looking approach that doesn’t rely on a sales rep’s personal assessments. Forecasts are designed so that each step in the sales cycle is accompanied by objective criteria that must be completed by the rep; reps must provide “proof” that each step has been completed, typically using their CRM system to manage and update that information.  This allows management to objectively understand where each opportunity is and what will be required to complete the sales cycle.

#4: Effective Hiring

Among the most significant challenges small and mid-sized staffing firms face is hiring the right staffing salespeople. When internal, or external, recruiting is done effectively, hiring the right sales people will have the most impact on revenue growth.

It may be counterintuitive, but often the best strategy is to focus on finding “B sales players, because the top sales people typically constitute less than 3% of all sales people. There are two strategies for hiring good sales people. First, develop a set of rigorous hiring criteria, and then find sales people that meet these specific criteria better than 80% of the time. It’s that last 20% where many businesses compromise; that last 20% is the cultural and personal fit that is critical to having good working relationships with other personnel on the team.

Second, hire the best sales people you can afford and pay them properly. Successful sales people who meet a firm’s hiring criteria are typically more experienced, are self-starters and generally have better industry background. They require less support and ultimately lower the cost of sales by improving the quality of the selling effort and closing a higher percentage of deals.

Summary: Boosting IT Staffing Sales Revenue

For many businesses, revenue growth is a life and death issue – make the wrong decision and your business could flounder or even crash!

By improving sales and customer profitability, enhancing forecasting and hiring the right sales personnel, staffing firms can make dramatic improvements in their revenue growth. “Additionally, try to reach outside your business to the industry and to professional organizations to find new ideas about how to boost IT staffing sales revenue,” concludes Joe Donna of Sales Oxygen.

Joe Donna is President of Sales Oxygen, a consulting firm that acts as a trusted advisor to small and middle market businesses that want to enhance their revenue outcomes.  Joe contributed a great deal to this article and can be contacted at


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