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Three Reasons IT Staffing Firms Struggle to Scale


Over the course of the past several months I have been doing less sales training and more "business consulting."  More to the point, clients are sharing with me their challenges in growing and scaling their business.  Owners of IT staffing firms are getting Three reasons IT staffing firms struggle to scalestuck at various revenue plateaus and can't seem to break through. In short, these organizations are struggling to achieve scalable growth. In this blog post I share with you three reasons IT staffing firms struggle to scale

Hands-off Leadership

Often when I begin working with a new client I see leadership that either tries to “do it all,” or they’re extremely “hands off.” Let me try to explain.

With a couple of rare exceptions, just about all IT Staffing firms I have worked for (or consulted with) struggle with the challenge of holding people accountable. And even those who do, struggle to do it on a consistent basis. When people are not held accountable, “settling” for second place and mediocrity become acceptable.  And if the behavior (of not being held accountable) goes on long enough, it becomes the culture of your organization. But the lack of accountability often begins with unclear or poorly defined performance expectations. If leadership has not clearly defined and clearly communicated for sales people what sales quota is expected of them than the expectations have not been clearly established. Thus you have no standard or expectations in which to hold someone accountable to.

If you are a manager, when is the last time you met with your team members to discuss this stuff? How often do you discuss performance management with your team and in what level of detail?  Are action items clearly defined from those meetings? Most importantly, is follow up conducted on the results of those action items?  Just like you have to tell your children to look both ways before they cross the street more than once before they understand it, this is a conversation you have to have on a weekly basis in your one-on-one meetings.

When people fail to hold themselves (or others) accountable they fail to pay attention to the results. When it comes to scaling the business, this is by far the most common challenge that I see IT staffing firms struggle with.  

“Do It All Leadership”

The other “leadership extreme” I see is leaders who do it all. When I say “Do It All Leadership” I'm referring to the owner/operators or sales leaders who literally do everything.  The problem with this type of leadership is that you can’t scale and grow your business this way. It doesn’t matter how great of a sales person, recruiter or manager you are, one person can only bring in so much revenue , close so many deals and work so many hours. 

The common shortfall I see here is sales leaders trying to “lead from behind their desk.” What I mean by that is they have sales reps on their team that they know will not meet their sales quota. The way they address it is by selling more themselves to make up for the short fall. Instead, what I suggest these leaders should be doing is getting out from behind their desk and working at the desk level with their sales reps and coaching them. Only when you develop your people can you truly begin to scale and grow your business.

Informal and Haphazard Sales Onboarding, Training and Coaching

I know, I know, this one seems a little bias coming from a training provider.  The simple reality is that most (80%) IT staffing firms have informal, haphazard sales onboarding and don't even take advantage of modern learning technologies.   You can't scale your revenue growth without investing in your people and making sales onboarding repeatable, scalable and predictable.

Having a scalable sales organization means having an organization with the capacity and capability to produce repeatable and sustainable revenue growth without being overly dependent on a key customer one or two key performers. Doing this requires IT staffing firms to adopted a structured sales onboarding and training program in which all employees are trained consistently.  Having a scalable staffing organization is one in which all team members have been taught, adopted and execute the same sales skills, sales behaviors, messaging and activities so that your sellers, regardless of experience or talent level,

Reason #3 IT Staffing Firms Struggle to Scale 

In addition to sales onboarding and sales coaching, we also help organizations design and implement sales process.  We begin by conducting input sessions by asking salespeople to describe and document their sales process.  We typically discover the following:

  • Each seller has their own, unique understanding of the steps of their sales process
  • Seller's don't understand what their buyer's must do in order to buy from them
  • Seller's have no signal or indicators telling them if and when they have successfully completed a step in their sales process

A sales process is a systematic series of repeatable actions or steps intended to achieve a result. When followed, these steps lead to predictable and expected outcomes.  Staffing firms without a sales process have a sales organization operating like the wild, wild west.  Every rep sells their own way and the manager has no idea what is working and what is not working.  If you don't know what is working and what is not working it's hard to identify what you want to make repeatable in order scale. In order to scale, staffing firms need a formal sales process. Here are seven signs that prove your sales process is working.

This third reason, lack of a formal sales process, for why staffing firms struggle to scale actually brings back to the issue of leadership. Leadership is needed to properly define the sales process including the verifiable outcomes.  Without a sales process sales leaders can't coach sales reps to their sales pipeline.  

Rest assured, staffing firms that have figured out how to scale their organization are firing on all cylinders when it comes to leadership, sales onboarding and sales process.

For additional ideas and best practices for scaling your revenue growth, download our eBook, The Staffing Leaders Guide to Sales Enablement.

Staffing Leader's Guide to Sales Enablement


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