Business Development in a Downturn

Layoffs continue to mount as the Covid-19 crisis reverberates through the system and corporations downsize in response to it. With many companies hiring at a tentative pace or on a complete freeze, staffing professionals now find themselves searching for their next client. So how do you approach finding new business in unprecedented times?

Consider the opportunity. Is your mindset crippling you? If you convince yourself no companies are hiring, then you have lost the race already. As we have conversations with clients and prospects realize that they may not have a need today, but with diligent follow up they will remember you when they are ready to hire. In addition, embrace an attitude of helping others during this time. We have all experienced that candidates become clients and vice versa in economic downturns. People will remember how they were treated by a staffing associate. Go the extra mile to help someone even if there is no immediate benefit to you. As the economy recovers you will be at the forefront of their mind when they need to hire.

The referral network. Do you ask your current clients for referrals and introductions? It is an overlooked source of sales in staffing. Often times staffing associates feel uneasy about asking for this or simply don’t know how to approach the question. Assuming you have done a great job for your clients, know that they want to help you. It is likely they probably have not thought about giving you a referral into their company or another one. If you simply ask the client to introduce you, chances are they will be happy to broker that meeting and illustrate the value you can bring to the table. You earned your sterling reputation, so make it a point to ask all customers for introductions and referrals. Let your clients do some of the sales work for you!

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Current and former clients. Have you witnessed a staffing associate who thinks they are the top supplier for a client, only to learn their competition is blowing them away? It seems to be reality that we don’t penetrate an account and expand our business and relationships as much as we should. Look objectively at your clients and determine of you have met every department, area, and leader who might be a user of your services. If you have not met all of them, it is a good goal to put in place. Also realize that companies still have core functions, back office processes, and projects that are critical to the business. Ask the client how they will keep these areas up and running with less staff. Do you have top candidates you can market into these areas to generate interest? Next, we have all had a client go dormant for one reason or another. Situations, people, and dynamics change at companies, so never make an assumption. Contact the organization and reintroduce yourself. You never know what their hiring landscape looks like.

New targets. While it may seem like no organization is hiring, have you looked in all the right places? Highly specialized industries like healthcare, financial services, and manufacturing hire unique skill sets. This type of experience often can’t be found on a job board, but typically calls for a staffing company to locate the correct expertise. Next, don’t dismiss local and state government, education, and non-profits as users of staffing services. Many not only use staffing companies to procure talent, but rely on them to keep projects going. Look for companies with mergers & acquisitions and divestitures in their plan. Divestitures tend to displace workers creating a need for temporary staffing to fill the void and mergers spur more hiring as integration work on systems and back office take shape. Additionally, look for innovative companies making a specialized product. They tend to thrive in this economic climate. Finally, never forget organizations that have ongoing cyclical demands for their services, as they need staff for peak periods.Push your comfort zone into industries you have never explored!

Gain Perspective

In summation, view the temporary setback in the economy as a vast opportunity to expand your conversations, relationships, and knowledge with prospects and clients. Become a student of their business and industry. As the hiring rebound happens, they will remember you!

 

Kim Henderson
Kim Henderson is a managing consultant with Cobalt Compass Solutions. She can be reached at khender10 (at) tampabay.rr (dot) com.


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