Not Your Father’s Staffing Industry

174277233Recruiting and software don’t always get along. This isn’t to say that recruiters aren’t tech-savvy – quite the contrary, as they were among the first to embrace techniques like social sourcing. However, whereas marketing analysts will never delude themselves into thinking they could be successful without Excel, many agency executives legitimately feel as though CRM systems are unnecessary frosting on a perfectly acceptable staffing sales cake. The reality of the matter is that CRM is to your sales process what baking powder is to your cake – it may not be glamorous or tasty by itself, but it’s necessary to turn that sugar and flour into something worth eating.

The staffing industry landscape has changed indelibly in the past five years, and any agency that doesn’t realize that and change how they operate accordingly should prepare for failure. A staffing agency’s business success is predicated upon the success of its customers. Lack of client diversification is a perennial issue in the staffing industry (our annual trends report showed that 22 percent of firms get the majority of their revenue from just one customer), and the way these end clients operate shifted dramatically in 2009. Large companies’ love affair with permanent workers took a nosedive with the Great Recession, and in the past five years the contingent workforce has doubled. Companies no longer want to be caught off-guard by economic circumstances and be stymied by the rising costs of benefits administration, so they’re increasingly relying on VMS, RPO, SOW, and other workforce business models to supply plentiful temp and contract workers and reduce their overall spend.

Now, it is news to no one that the staffing industry isn’t crazy about VMS margins, but agencies that can compete effectively on VMS business can rest prettily on piles of money, because VMS isn’t going away. As the hiring practices of large buyers change, staffing firms need to gain better insight into their clients’ plans and adapt their sales strategies to appeal to these shifting models. It’s not enough to have a CRM system that’s nothing more than a glorified contact database, or a sophisticated CRM system that can forecast the likelihood of an opportunity closing but not the likelihood of a job order closing. For many staffing and recruiting agencies, increasing sales productivity – which is what most CRM systems address – is barely half the battle. Nurturing, maintaining and forecasting the course of customer relationships is what separates a staffing agency railroaded by economic dips from one that can surf over various waves.

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And speaking of waves, Bullhorn has seen plenty of our own. First in 2000, a year after we launched, and then nearly ten years later. We’ve maintained rapid growth despite changing economic conditions because we always looked ahead from a sales perspective, understanding our clients’ needs and predicting what they wanted based on insight. This is why we launched the Bullhorn Sales CRM, which combines pipeline management with an industry-leading ATS for full, end-to-end relationship management. The new offering helps split-desk and full-desk firms standardize their sales methodology around best practices to increase the productivity of their sales teams, deepen and improve the profitability of their customer relationships, and drive topline revenue growth.

The major advantage of the Bullhorn Sales CRM is that it enforces a programmatic approach to sales execution and management. As staffing agencies grow, scaling knowledge can be a problem. Sales professionals have the necessary insight into their prospects’ and customers’ business models, but that knowledge lives mainly in their heads, where it can’t help agency leaders. By making insight available (and beautifully digestible via standard reports) to everyone in an organization, sales knowledge becomes agency firepower. Every touch point – email, phone call, calendar meeting – is automatically tracked and collected to create a tapestry of intelligence around client relationships, forecasting changes before they happen and showcasing opportunities to increase profit from customers.

Ultimately, staffing is an incredibly complex industry. Only a system purpose-built for staffing can facilitate sales management, customer relationship management, and delivery all in one. The real question is, are you ready to supercharge your sales pipeline, or would you prefer to keep it in your head?

MORE: How to select an ATS

Aravinda Rao Souza

Aravinda Rao Souza
Aravinda Rao Souza is a senior marketing manager at Bullhorn, where she runs public relations, content marketing and social media. Follow Vinda on Twitter @seriousvinda

Aravinda Rao Souza

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