Trying to choose between business growth strategies for your staffing agency?
We know the struggle well. You're competing with younger, more nimble agencies (or yours is one). You're in an industry that has never shied away from aggressive sales tactics, and now the market is over-saturated with competitors WAY more aggressive and entrenched than you.
To top it off, you've never had to invest much into marketing, so even though you're starting to understand that it's time to go there, it's very difficult to understand where your efforts and money are going to be the most meaningful.
5To help sort through these challenges, we've compiled a list of 4 business growth strategies that apply specifically to staffing agencies dealing with the aggressively evolving marketplace.
1. Find your Niche
"Riches are in the niches." You probably know this already. If you've been around, you do, anyway.
But are your niches still relevant?
Businesses are changing. They're becoming smaller, more nimble, and their demands are changing with them.
Saturation is a good thing. It means that there is a demand for your business, and that your service has been tested and validated over and over and over.
But it's also a bad thing, because it means that the market is noisy and crowded, and standing out isn't easy. (source)
This is very reason why finding those niches are increasingly more important.... but not as vague or general as "accounting and finance" placements, but rather, what industry and vertical are you targeting? Additionally, how are you specifically catering to that vertical and its embedded audience?
For example, my growth agency, Orange Pegs Media, specializes in inbound lead generation... for staffing agencies. We went this route because staffing agencies are largely underserved when it comes to lead generation, and because of it, there are very few inbound lead generation companies with experience in staffing.
But to take it a step further, we recognized that lead generation is only about 25% of your problem, and certainly not the first problem that needs to be solved 95% of the time.
Staffing is a sales industry, and yet, you're operating with tools and processes that were developed DECADES ago. (yes, even those of you using Bullhorn or Salesforce - even though the technologies are newer, the driving concepts behind them are not)
So, we developed programs specifically for staffing agencies to solve their sales woes by addressing structural issues first, which lead to quick wins, while opening the doors for effective inbound lead generation when the time is right.
It doesn't get more niche than that... and it's having an ENORMOUS impact on my business... because nobody else is addressing your sales problems the way we are. Period.
2. Lean into Automation
There is no argument to avoid sales or marketing automation that holds an ounce of credibility in my mind. It's likely driven by fear of change vs what that change actually is.
But the thing is - your employees (sales AND recruiting) are sick of manual entry. And being that your most successful folks are Millennials, you're making it very difficult for them to love their jobs if they're still being tasked with manual data entry and other tasks that require them to tack on hours to their day every day.
As mentioned by author Jamie Notter, this isn't just about changing your business practices... it's about changing your mindset... (especially if you want to attract and retain the best recruiters). The key is to base your services around these four pillars: Clear, Fluid, Fast, and Digital. (source: Quickbooks.intuit.com)
A lot of what your production teams do today can be automated, such as:
- Data entry
- Deal creation
- Email nurturing
And it can apply to sales AND recruiting. You just need the right tools, and again... mindset.
3. Build your Sales Infrastructure
Dovetailing off of my last point, you can actually achieve automation (and a ton of other great outcomes) by first addressing your sales infrastructure.
By this, I mean, by implementing a Modern CRM.
Don't bounce just because I said that.... even if you JUST implemented Bullhorn or Salesforce last week. They are NOT modern. They take the same ideas from my AS400 platform of yesteryear (dating myself here), and putting them in the cloud, and making them look nicer.
That's it. They are management tools... not sales tools... meaning, they don't support sales the way sales needs to be supported... ie - making way for a 5-minute or less response time to inquiries AND buying signals.
In that rare occasion when somebody submits a job order through the contact form, it gets distributed to a person who has to determine where it goes. It could take hours or even DAYS to get into the hands of somebody who can do something with it.
Even 10 minutes is bad news.
Check out these statistics:
- There's a 20 x better chance your rainmakers will connect with prospects if called within 5 minutes vs 90 minutes of engaging with your content (website, emails, etc)
- There's a 4 x better chance of connecting if called withing 5 minutes vs 10
- 50% of all deals are awarded to first-responders
Your sales infrastructure, fueled by a Modern CRM, is the key to achieving first-response, and putting decision-makers on the phone with your account executives in less than five minutes.
And it's not just those extremely rare job order requests that I'm referring to. It's ANY kind of engagement with your company, such as your:
- Bottom of funnel marketing collateral
- Important pages on your website (like pricing, etc)
- Sales collateral
For source information and more staggering sales statistics, check out our Introductory Guide to Growth Planning:
There is nothing more frustrating as a marketer than to have all of their hard work vaporize the minute they hand off a lead to sales. To compound their frustrations, YOU are likely to side with sales when it comes time to play the blame game. Why? Because sales pays the bills. Marketing has historically provided no service of quantifiable value.
But that's not entirely their fault. Part of it lies with the lack of technology (historically) that allows you to measure the entire funnel, not just marketing KPIs and end of day sales.
The technology exists now... as mentioned above.
Technically, it's also partly your fault for not having clearly defined rules of engagement spelled out and formally agreed to. Of course, without sales infrastructure to measure TOTAL outcomes and all the peaks and valleys in between, it was never possible.
But it is now. Again. I must emphasize that it IS possible to objectively measure and gauge performance of your entire sales & marketing funnel.
With clear data and rules of engagement, executing Service Level Agreement (SLA) between sales and marketing has never been easier.
A word of caution - don't execute and run.... you should be measuring individual outcomes every month, and pitting them against global outcomes at least once a quarter. Be prepared to adjust the terms too. Going into it, you'll only have hypothesis' to light the way. In three months you'll have hard data.
5. Growth Hack
Growth hacking is a term more commonly found among start-ups, and it's more often related to marketing than it is sales. True growth hacking also involves product development. What is Growth Hacking, you ask?
According to Wikipedia:
"is a process of rapid experimentation across marketing funnel, product development, sales segments, and other areas of the business to identify the most efficient ways to grow a business. A growth hacking team is made up of marketers, developers, engineers and product managers that specifically focus on building and engaging the user base of a business."
"Growth hacking is particularly prevalent with startups, when the goal is rapid growth in the early-stages of launching a new product or service to market. Growth hacking may focus on lowering cost per customer acquisition, or it may focus on long-term sustainability as Mason Pelt points out in a 2015 article on SiliconANGLE.com "The goal of any marketing should be long-term sustainable growth, not just a short-term gain. Growth hacking is about optimization as well as lead generation. Imagine your business is a bucket and your leads are water. You don't want to pour water into a leaky bucket; it's a waste of money. That's why a true growth hacker would care about customer retention."
To be clear, you should never start here, because in order to achieve any of these things, you need to be able to objectively measure results. The act of growth hacking involves A/B testing, and making small, incremental changes over time in order to fully optimize your online collateral.
Things you can growth hack:
- Sales emails
- Marketing emails
- Slide decks
- Online content offers
- Automated sequences
- Calling schedules
- Calling frequences
Let's recap. The four strategies we're suggesting are:
- Find your niche
- Lean into automation
- Deploy sales infrastructure
- Growth hack
To build a growth strategy that fits where your staffing agency is today, check out our DIY growth planner. There are 5 pages of questions (page 2 is the heaviest), and at the end, it will spit out a high-level assessment along with areas for improvement, and how those improvements can be made: