Selling Smart: Today’s Power Sellers
Not long ago, charismatic sales professionals could achieve lucrative deals and professional distinction by dropping in frequently at client sites and showering hiring managers with extra attention. Today’s sellers play very different roles.
These professionals develop business opportunities and lasting client relationships through solution sales. Rather than focusing on getting bodies into seats, they become experts in prospective client businesses, shaping human capital solutions to meet specific company goals. They are strategic consultants, designing sophisticated solutions for clients using a range of models and worker classifications, from RPO, VMS, MSP and SOW to a broad range of staffing software and tools.
Focused on driving performance and business growth, leaders across the staffing industry are working to build a stronger culture and practice of solution selling. Working closely with boards and CEOs to place leaders tasked with implementing best practices in sales, I’ve had a front-row seat to the evolution from staffing sales to solution selling. In fact, the staffing companies that turn to me to manage their executive searches are looking for CEOs with experience building world-class, solutions-based sales organizations. Here are some of their best practices.
Recruit SMEs and problem solvers. The industry needs subject-matter experts with experience in specific vertical markets. Solution selling is sophisticated. It’s as much about building the right solution as it is about winning over clients. Experience and knowledge within a sector gives sales professionals the understanding needed to identify where different staffing, management or payment models can make a business more efficient, profitable and productive.
Today’s sales directors need to focus their recruiting by vertical market, identifying experts who know an industry and its operations, challenges and professions. They must hire specialists who can engage with senior business leaders who ask tough, business-oriented questions and expect well-informed insights and consultation.
Engage with knowledge. Today’s solution sellers reach many prospects out in the knowledge marketplace. They are actively engaged in the industries they serve, keeping their names in front of business leaders and decision makers by joining panels and contributing to presentations at conferences. They write articles and blogs, sharing staffing innovations and models. They establish themselves as thought leaders and experts, becoming a resource businesses seek out.
Effective business leaders encourage their sales staff to establish credibility in the marketplace. They make industry engagement a key tenet of good sales and thought leadership contributions a measure of sales productivity.
Rely on marketing. Good marketing practices can help sales teams keep the staffing brand “top of mind.” Strong solution sales teams are good at partnering with marketing to leverage communication tools, media and marketing automation as a way to share targeted content with prospects. Promoting thought leadership, case studies, testimonials and partnership is a powerful way to share a company’s solution capabilities, but it’s not the role of sales. Allowing marketing teams to do the critical job of communicating the brand story is one way these teams reduce their administrative load and get more time to build relationships with their prospects.
Collaborate with internal experts. From technical specialists and recruiting experts to operational leaders, many people across a staffing organization contribute to a successful client solution. Effective solution-oriented sales teams are very good at knowing when to bring in other inside experts to answer questions, provide technical knowledge and help close the deal. In fact, many of the staffing industry CEOs I work with spend a portion of their time in latest age sales meetings. This executive level sales participation is a reflection of how sophisticated staffing solutions have become and how clients today tie solution success to business outcomes. While sales in staffing has certainly changed, one thing remains true: relationships matter. The better suited your sales teams are to selling solutions, the better they will be at developing the lasting partnerships that define staffing success.