Coming as a surprise to no one who has been involved in Technical Staffing for the past few years, the industry is changing.
As I reflect on conversations I’ve had with dozens of clients over the last several months, some experiencing victories and some losses, I find that the recurring theme among the two camps is how they are interacting with their clients and prospects and what impact that interaction is having.
Especially those clients and prospects who they have just started to interact with.
Those that are embracing the new paradigm, what I call Tech Staffing 3.0, are able to connect with new prospects and difficult to reach contacts in existing accounts at a measurably larger margin than those that are not adapting to the shift in the market. In addition, when they engage with larger firms they are able to navigate around the vendor managed programs (if they choose to!) that have devastated the profit margins of their competitors.
Very simply, they have changed their approach, their positioning, in the market place.
Let me explain…
When I first started in this industry (what I’m calling Tech Staffing 1.0, though I’m certain that there were iterations prior to this) we were taught to sell our company. To sell our unique characteristics and why working with “us” would be a superior experience to working with the “other guys.”
That philosophy led to “quality” prospecting calls like this one, “Hello, my name is Gerry Gadoury with XYZ Technical Staffing and we provide Contract, Contract-To-Hire, and Perm staffing in the technical space…”
Frankly, it is thousands and thousands of garbage calls like that one that led to the industry generally loathing calls from salespeople like me. It is a contributing factor in why so many prospects immediately shut-down when they realize there is a Tech Staffing Sales person on the line with them (Sorry those who came after!).
As this approach wore out it’s welcome in the market place, it spawned a shift in the more aware tech staffing firms. It birthed what I call Tech Staffing 2.0. In this model, the salesperson shifted from talking about their company, their awards, their accolades (because they came to realize that the prospect couldn’t possibly care less!) to talking about the results their consultants got for a similar prospect. Essentially, they crafted results focused business stories that were delivered in the language of the buyer (carefully avoiding HR/Staffing terminology). This technique is referred to as a “Value Proposition” prospecting call.
The Value Proposition call is focused on the needs and wants of the prospect. It is framed in their language and targets their hot buttons (How you helped a similar prospect to increase their revenue, decrease their costs, and/or increase their efficiency). It has a lot to recommend it and it was extremely effective for a long time. As a matter of fact, I still teach this method to all of my clients at the Menemsha Group.
However, we are finding that even though this technique is dramatically more effective than the Tech Staffing 1.0 method, it is proving to be less and less effective for initial or introductory calls.
Needless to say this isn’t exactly super-great news!
Or is it?
The Tech Staffing industry is iterating again. As it did several years ago and as it will do again at some point in the future. Our prospects and clients are moving toward, or in some instances HAVE MOVED TO, a mindset that all Tech Staffing firms are more or less the same.
In other words, our clients and prospects believe us to be a commodity.
What happens to commodity industries?
Ask the Airlines how much fun it is to be in a commodity industry.
In commodity industries we have very little control over our gross margins and can really only significantly impact our profits by streamlining our processes and becoming more and more efficient. While I certainly believe that we SHOULD be as efficient as possible I have precisely zero interest in having my top-line controlled.
I’d MUCH rather be Macy’s than Wal Mart.
I’d MUCH rather coach my clients to be Macy’s than Wal Mart.
In this iteration we have the choice of either going down the vendor managed service, master service provider, staffing program route OR we can find a way to work around those systems.
Let me be CRYSTAL clear here: Those firms that have large enough recruiting teams to effectively compete in those systems and want that business can make a considerable amount of money there. It’s not that its BAD business but for me, and many of my clients, it is not business we want.
So what do we do?
That is where Tech Staffing 3.0 comes in.
Interestingly, even for those among my audience who DO want the VMS and MSP type business everything I am about to detail will still apply.
This iteration of the Tech Staffing industry applies to ALL of its members. From the independent recruiter working alone to the publicly traded National firm.
The key to Tech Staffing 3.0 is how we present ourselves, where we meet our prospects on their buying journey, and how we position ourselves at that point.
With Tech Staffing 3.0 we take the elements from prior iterations that are still useful and we repackage them, using them later in the prospecting cycle.
In Tech Staffing 3.0 we create content that draws prospects to us. Instead of sharing our knowledge of the market place with the clients that we have come to know we LEAD WITH THAT KNOWLEDGE. That is our real value.
In Tech Staffing 3.0 we control the interaction by positioning ourselves as the professionals that we are. We use our incredibly valuable market knowledge, candidate access, and our ability to properly position client opportunities in a candidate controlled marketplace to our advantage by creating content that educates our prospects on how to staff their projects and positions with the best talent.
In Part 2 of this post we will get into the strategies and tactics of content creation and market position that will keep your firm, your desk, and your book of business in YOUR control and not at the mercy of a market that believes you to be a commodity. If what I’ve shared so far resonates with you then make sure to come back in a week and we’ll dig into the nuts and bolts of this.
Better yet, sign up for the blog so you don’t miss a post or, best yet, join the community and get a free copy of my book The Successful Business Blueprint. In addition, I share things with the community that I don’t put in the blog or talk about on the PODCAST.
For repeat readers, the customary “Weekly Challenge” that normally ends my posts and podcasts will be held until the end of this topic as it will be far more impactful for you there.
I’ll be talking about Tech Staffing 3.0 in depth in this week’s Podcast (released the Monday AFTER this releases) so tune in to continue the conversation and learn how embracing Tech Staffing 3.0 will keep YOU in the driver’s seat (You can catch the Podcast HERE ON THE SITE or on iTunes!)
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