Sourcing talent in this day and age can almost make you go cross-eyed. Staffing firms need to have their sights everywhere because “Division I” technical talent is available for only an instant. Where that next superstar candidate will emerge is anyone’s guess. Since sales and recruiting teams have to be economical with their time, sourcing efforts need to focus on known commodities whenever possible.
Think about it. At least 80% of sales take five follow-ups to close. Being that tenacious takes time. Though making new connections widens sales funnels, part of the reason sales and recruiting teams build relationships is to have a reliable well of talent when needed. Some of these techniques are things staffing firms may be doing every six months. But it’s the successful sales and recruiting teams that use these techniques to generate new staffing leads (both candidates and new accounts) on a regular basis. It’s a rookie mistake to let what’s already on your plate grow cold. Here’s the old school way to leverage existing relationships and spend more time closing tough placements.
1.) Maximize Those Personal Relationships
By their nature, established relationships are easier to leverage. Trust already exists because people understand you and your character. Sales reps and recruiters building books of business and candidate contacts ease introductions through long-standing relationships. Over time, their toolkit will include additional tactics for getting warm leads, but even then referrals from your personal relationships create a fast and stable foundation.
Years ago, I played in a volleyball league as a way of staying active, both physically and professionally. Through the league, I met three executive level technology professionals, one of which was a VP of IT at Discover Financial. We had played together, gotten to know each other’s character, and built a rapport. When I reached out to him and said, “I want a shot. What can I do to prove to you that my level of service and our firm’s ability are going to be at a high level?” he was already receptive.
He made the introductions with the caveat that closing the deal was up to me. He simply gave his people an understanding that he knew me and my character. Beyond that, the sale and delivery were in my hands. Great sales reps are people who do what they say and say what they do. That took some of the risk off the table for him. From the start, I let him know that I’m willing to work hard for the business and the introduction he made didn’t need to put his credibility on the line in the process.
Make saying yes to the referral as easy as possible. The process should feel hands-off. Your personal contact makes an introduction and you handle everything else. The less intrusive your request, the more likely you’ll be able to use that contact in the future. With the gatekeepers and procedures you’re able to bypass, you’ll want to keep on coming back.
2.) Be Willing to Connect with Old Contractors
In sales and recruiting, one eye needs to be fixed on the next sale or placement. It’s like playing Risk. Anyone not planning several moves ahead has nowhere to go without serious setbacks. Recruiters are always looking for new candidates to fill positions. Sales reps are looking to open new doors with new accounts. However, the more economical way to generate new staffing leads is to use previous contractors in one of two ways.
Think about it. Why can’t John Doe, who you placed in a role a year ago, help your transition into another account? All of the groundwork is completed. Your reputation is respected. They know your process first-hand. This makes them a walking, talking success story highlighting your capabilities. Even a brief word confirming your dedication goes a long way to generate new staffing leads. The process flashes from introduction to qualification with less heavy lifting.
On the other side, previous contractors are a renewable resource themselves. They’re a known commodity and you can present them to new prospects with great results. I can say “I’ve worked with John Doe in the past and this guy is the shit. I personally know he’s an outstanding consultant. Based on my research, I know he’s the type of resource you’ve looked for in the past and I’ll stake my reputation on him.” That to me is a door opener. That’s not just saying we carry Java Developers. That’s a person calling with conviction.
Using contractors to break into new accounts and find new candidates requires upfront work. There needs to be a living and breathing relationship between you and anyone you present. That’s why maintaining past relationships is so crucial. At least 10% to 15% of a sales rep’s or recruiter’s week should be dedicated to reaching out to people they’ve worked with in the past. Might seem like a lot, but top sales performers are meeting people face-to-face 8 hours a day anyway. And the results to generate new staffing leads are much more fruitful.
Let’s look at an example. High producers turn over a fair percentage of contractors every year. If you have 30 people billing on January 1st, then 10 to 15 might have completed their contracts by December 31st. Recruiters performing at that level or higher over three or four years have 40 to 60 people (minus the bad placements or ones with bad chemistry) available to give referrals or take contracts. Take one of those people per week out to coffee or lunch, asking them genuine questions about their career, and you will generate new staffing leads, whether it’s new clients or new candidates, on a fairly regular basis. You just need to ask the right detailed questions (it’s one of the six characteristics of a great recruiter):
- Where are you working?
- Who needs people?
- What can I help you with?
People who have a good relationship with you and trust you are going to be forthcoming about leads and instances when they would be willing to move on. All without the frustration built into establishing new connections.
3.) Use Your Recruiters for Insight
Recruiters interview countless people. In my own experience, there were 10% or 15% of people who I didn’t use, but who are deep down great candidates. Maybe the rate didn’t work or the location was too far away or the company was not the right fit for this given person. Regardless, I knew I wanted to keep tabs on Jane Doe because somewhere along the way this person might be the perfect fit for a different account or role. All of the vetting has been done in advance so the hiring timeline speeds up.
On the sales rep side, it is important to leverage certain top performing recruiters and bridge the gap between the sales and recruiting department. During my own experience, I was trying to handle 15 to 20 sales reqs on an ongoing basis. Depending on how the recruiting team is structured, I know that certain recruiters will understand the type of character I want in candidates I present inside my accounts or maybe they understand certain requirements better than their peers. I’ll sit down with the people who get my style, how I work, and how I sell to ask them where their recent candidates are coming from and going.
Projects come and go. Let’s say we recently lost candidates to certain accounts. That’s a means to identify and break into new accounts. If we’re losing candidates to specific companies sucking up talent, you know a demand exists that you can potentially go after.
Using Inbound Marketing to Generate New Staffing Leads
The above three tactics are known to most companies, but take time and effort on your end to put them into a formal process. It’s important to reinforce the importance of this specific strategy and incorporate it into your tactics to ensure the sales and recruiting team doesn’t fall into a comfort zone. Yet there are additional ways to draw in new clients and candidates without revamping what your team is doing.
Strong inbound marketing strategies are standard for every business. The question isn’t if you need to pursue inbound marketing, but how you can make it work most effectively for you. We can deliver the results you need.