Four Sales Best Practices Adopted by Top IT Staffing Firms
Busy is good. Busy is productive. Busy equals success…or does it? When trying to motivate your IT staffing sales team to do more and work harder, it’s normal to push them to “get busy!” But busy work and IT staffing sales effectiveness are two very different things. Sales effectiveness is about improving your sales performance. Busy work is simply about maintaining the status quo.
The last thing any sales manager wants is a busy sales team producing little results and doing little to increase sales performance. So stop pushing for “busy” and start working towards improving sales effectiveness by aligning efforts with the key performance indicators of highly effective IT staffing sales teams outlined below.
Four Sales Best Practices Adopted by Top IT Staffing Firms
Work from an Established Sales Process. Providing effective, consistent sales coaching and achieving consistent sales results requires a clearly defined sales process. Performance can only get better if you have a baseline from which to measure. Nevertheless, I am constantly surprised by the number of IT staffing firms (large and small) operating without a sales process. With no clearly defined sales process sales reps have the freedom to go about their job as they wish. Hey I like freedom and believe in giving sales reps freedom but in this case it is a bad idea. I have seen this hundreds of times, sales reps will always follow the path of least resistance and very rarely will they ever push themselves outside of their comfort zone. I could go on and on about why this is a bad idea. Instead you should map your map out your sales process by highlighting the high-level steps and activities that need to be completed by both the rep and the customer.You need to define, document and configure your CRM/ATS application to automate your sales process so that all sales reps, regardless of location will follow one unified sales process and speak a common sales language.
IT staffing sales teams that have a defined process are at a great advantage. Sales professionals know what is expected of them, exactly what steps they need to execute in order to be successful and sales managers can easily identify and diagnose where improvements need to be made and sales coaching can be given. And having a process allows all of this to happen on a consistent basis.
Use Objective Criteria to Establish Sales Milestones. While the power of “gut instinct” is helpful with a lot of things, it’s better to check it at the door when it comes to qualifying and sales forecasting accuracy. That’s because
forecasting accuracy requires objectivity. If sales managers are using their gut instincts to rank the opportunities and coordinate the activities of their sales teams, they are promoting inconsistent, bad sales behavior and in all likelihood inconsistent sales results.
Take for example the case of IT staffing sales managers who use subjective criteria for ranking job requisitions. Using subjective data implies that the criteria can change based on the "eye of the beholder." In this case the sales manager may boost the morale and confidence of the sales person by assigning the job order as an “A order” because the sales manager has a "good gut feeling" the IT hiring manager really likes us. But the reality is the role is underfunded. Under this scenario the sales manager (unintentionally) encourages poor sales behavior. The salesperson receives inconsistent coaching and subsequently delivers inconsistent results. An ego boost will not change the quality of the opportunity, but effective sales coaching early in the sales process and hard work on the part of the sales professional—such as going back to the IT hiring manager to get more information (verifiable, objective data)—can turn it into a qualified job order. Sticking to highly objective measures to rank requisitions and other IT staffing sales milestones is essential to improving sales behavior and driving consistent, long-term performance.
To begin, define and assign customer driven verifiable outcomes to your sales process.
Understand Client/Prospect Purchase Processes: At the end of the day in IT staffing sales, we don’t get paid for what we do. We get paid based on what our clients do. Did they screen the candidates? Did they interview them? Did they push the hiring process forward? Have they committed to completing the next step in their purchasing process?
Top performing sales people understand their clients purchasing process. Great salespeople know how to lead their clients through their purchasing process. They do this by aligning their own sales activities and milestones with their customers purchasing process. Are you doing this?
Sales Management System & Business Intelligence: If you’re a sales manager, consistency is a critical success factor in working with your sales people. Sales people want a consistent methodology to follow that leads to predictable success. The best thing sales managers can have is a sales system and access to objective data that consistently prompts you to ask the right questions that lead to positive and predictable outcomes.
When is the last time you evaluated your IT staffing sales processes, behaviors and activities? Are the milestones in your sales process are objective or subjective? How much does your sales teams know about your clients’ purchasing processes? Please share your thoughts and comments in the section below.
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.