The Secret Behind High Growth Staffing Firms
Market leaders, whether it be the staffing industry, manufacturing, software, financial services or any other industry all share one thing in common; their sales teams are a well oiled machine, operating in unison and consistently executing across the entire team. Their sales leader(s) consistently hire the same type (DNA profile) of successful salespeople who they consistently train and onboard to adopt the same skills, behaviors and knowledge and follow the same sales process and sales methodology and adopt common messaging and a call planning framework. There isn’t much deviation from rep to rep.
Most organizations aspire for such consistency, yet for most staffing firms there is wide variation in the sales approach, process and messaging from rep to rep. It’s this inconsistent approach that causes many staffing firms to plateau and struggle to “break through the ceiling” to achieve record-breaking revenue. This inconsistency drives sales team quota attainment to fall into a bell curve as you can see in the illustration below.
In this scenario everyone (but the lone top performer) is trying to figure things out on their own. They’re literally running sales experiments all day long trying to figure who to call, what to say, how to script their pitch, what to say to overcome an objection, how to close a deal. While the top 10% figure it out (how likely are you to hire top 10 percenters, consistently?) and achieve huge success, their success is cancelled out by everyone else trying to figure things out. The net result of all of this is a company operating under the “superhero” model in which the organization including the CEO or owner is overly reliant on the success of just a few individuals. That of course puts the business at risk.
Top performing staffing firms and their sales teams are different. They consistently hire the same type of successful salespeople in which they consistently train and onboard their salespeople to follow the same buyer aligned sales process, adopt common messaging and apply a common sales methodology and call planning framework. These behaviors, processes and methodologies are adopted by ALL reps across the sales organization. As a result, their sales quota attainment bell curve looks something like the illustration below.
Top performing sales teams have higher overall sales quota attainment. Even their average reps are meeting their sales quota. They have fewer sales reps failing to achieve quota attainment. What this all means for the sales leader and CEO is this; applying consistent sales behaviors accelerates growth, by a LOT. Inconsistent sales behaviors produces unpredictability. It clouds your sales funnel and sales forecast. It’s kind of like putting your sales team in a big boat and everyone starts rowing in a different direction. Paddling hard but going nowhere. Instead of deals moving consistently through a repeatable and predictable process, they function more like an airplane experiencing turbulence. Few leads convert to qualified opportunities and even fewer convert into revenue. “Hot” prospects suddenly go cold or “MIA” and reps have no clue as to why.
Gong, a sales conversation intelligence platform for B2B sales teams for recording, transcribing and analyzing sales calls analyzed 2 million sales call recordings from hundreds of companies. Twelve of the companies were identified as leaders in their market. What they learned from analyzing the data was that the sellers from the market leading companies were far more consistent in their selling behaviors from rep to rep than those from non market leaders. Interestingly, market leaders have a much smaller gap in the performance of their top performers vs. their middle of the pack performers. In other words, following a consistent sales process, adopting common messaging and applying a common sales methodology and call planning framework increases overall quota attainment.
Another key finding from the analysis was that the call planning structure that was followed and applied by top performers at market leading companies was very much the same call planning framework followed by those “middle of the pack” producers with those same market leading companies. However, in non market leading companies the call planning structure was haphazard at best from rep to rep. Which begs the question; when you walk your sales floor and listen to your sales reps execute their sales calls, do they sound similar or are they all over the place?
The point I’m trying to make and what I hope you take away from this post is this. If you have a large gap between your top performers and the rest of your team you likely have a wide gap from rep to rep regarding their messaging, the process they follow, how they prepare for sales calls and sales meetings. In short, you have a sales organization operating like the wild, wild, west. This KILLS revenue growth. You may understand your market and have a couple of really good customers and a top performer knocking the ball out of the park but you still haven't figured out how to build a scalable business model that will produce predictable revenue. If you have a sales organization that resembles the wild wild west with mavericks or lone wolfs doing their own thing, you are destined to sit at the bottom of the pecking order in your market. Even worse, you will remain at the bottom of the pecking order. I know this because I see it my travels, having worked with hundreds of staffing firms.
If you want revenue growth than you need to focus on consistency. For proof of this look no further than collegiate or professional sports. Alabama football, Duke basketball, New England Patriots football and the “Patriot Way.” All of these programs follow the same consistent process year after year regardless of their personnel. Year after year they compete for championships. Or better yet, call the VP of sales of local company that you know is very successful (regardless of their industry). Ask if you can walk their sales floor and observe. I assure you that you will see and hear what I'm talking about.
So how do you get started? It's not easy but the first step is getting your new hire onboarding and training right. For tips on that check out our ebook, Blueprint for Accelerating On-boarding.
About Dan Fisher
Dan Fisher is founder and owner of Menemsha Group, a provider of sales enablement solutions dedicated to helping IT staffing firms improve win rates, shorten their sales cycle, and increase revenue per sales rep. Since launching Menemsha Group in 2008, Dan has consulted with over 200 IT staffing firms and has invested over 5000 hours coaching IT staffing sales reps. He’s authored is his own proprietary sales methodology and has previously spoken at Staffing World, TechServe Alliance and Bullhorn Live 2012. Prior to launching Menemsha Group, Dan spent 16 years in the IT industry running local, regional and national sales teams. Dan worked for Kelly Services, Oracle Corporation and Alliance Consulting. Dan currently resides in Boston, Ma.