Planning To Win: A Guide to Writing a Business Plan For Your Organization

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Jan 10, 2012

 “All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination.” Earl Nightingale, American motivational speaker and author

What are your business objectives for 2012? I know we have personal resolutions that we announce to the world and then try to keep but what are your New Year resolutions for work? Most sales organizations begin the year with a plan to fail because they did not have a strategic plan to win. The most successful plans require the following:

  1. Plans must be specific, detailed and realistic
  2. Plans must be written down and accountable
  3. Plans must be associated with deadlines or deliverables
  4. Plans must be measurable for success or failure
  5. Plans must have the ability to change or adjust based on success of goals

I encourage you to sit down this year to come up with a detailed business plan that is worthy of the industry and the company you represent. In the spirit of Work, Compete, or Dominate, you should be focused on nothing less than Competing or Dominating. Start thinking about the following…

“Like Industries and Like Skill Sets”

Your plan should include a complete understanding of the industries and skill sets that you and your team can consistently provide with exceptional service. Each market is defined differently. Anyone can provide staffing services, but only ONE staffing firm can be the best in their market and it is critical that you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your recruiting team — and exploit the strengths.

Target Account List

Once “Like Industries and Like Skill Sets” are defined, your goal is to add hundreds of prospective clients that meet that profile. If they are “Like Industries and Like Skill Sets,” add them to your list! Earn the right to meet with them by doing your homework. Understand how flexible staffing or solutions are incorporated into their business model and find ways to improve that process. Every client prospect has an “approved bench” of vendors that have earned the right to support their business needs. To earn the right to meet with them, your engagement approach should lead them to believe that you can actually raise the level of service. In other words, you are a firm that could compete or raise the level of service they are currently experiencing from their primary vendor.

Too often we settle for the “I would love to be a backup vendor” mentality, when you can strategically place yourself as their primary vendor for all solutions. As you begin the discovery process, focus on the challenges, not the services. If you can fix the challenges, you’ll earn the right to provide solutions.

Questions to consider when placing prospect clients on your Targeted Account List:

  • Does the prospective client match your office’s business plans?
  • Can you “Compete” or “Dominate” in provided services or solutions?
  • Why do they need YOU? For what type(s) of services?
  • Who are your competitors? What is your relationship with client vs. your competitors?
  • Who are the decision makers or buying influencers? Can you get access to them?
  • What is their current Staff Augmentation or Solutions spend?
  • What challenges do they have with regard to finding talent or services?
  • Do you have solutions to solve the problems?
  • Do you know the Features & Benefits of those solutions?

Why is the Job Order King? Candidates are KING!

Continued face to face “candidate traffic” will be the lifeblood for your office. Too often the focus has been on “client development” or bringing in logos. However, if your office does not have the talent to submit to the orders, you’ll lose the client. Proactive pipelining of candidates that match your office’s recruiting plan is paramount.

What came first: the Chicken or the Egg? What should come first: the order or the candidate? The answer is the candidate. Here’s the rationale: You cannot win a “client” if you can’t fill the order. Companies will always be a “prospect” until you actually fill an order and then they become a “client.” You can bring in all the orders you want however if your team can’t fill them with qualified candidates it’s just a costly exercise. Another famous quote from this industry is as follows: “If you can own the talent, you’ll own the market.”

Recruiter Lead Sheets

Your recruiters should be presenting their top Most Market-able Candidates to you every day with a clear understanding of what differentiates that candidate from all the other candidates. Set standards for them to interview beyond skill sets. They should be interviewing for accomplishments and reference quotes.

Encourage face-to-face interviews with all “Like Industries and Like Skill Sets” candidates in their market. 10 candidates per week face to face interview is a good benchmark standard. Each candidate interview has the opportunity to drive 10-15 leads per interview with the following questions.

  • What have you done to date in your search?
    • This provides companies with active searches, so don’t start selling services — start selling MPC Candidates!
  • What companies would you love to work for?
    • This provides additional companies in your market that should be on your Target Account List.
  • 360 degree referencing
    • 9 Passive candidates in your market. (3 Supervisors / 3 Peers / 3 Subordinates)
  • Who do you know in your industry that I need to be connected to?
    • 5+ candidates over the life of a candidate

Social Media / Networking

Become a Center of Influence in your virtual and physical communities. We are in the people business and I’m amazed how little our salespeople are involved in their local community. Surveys have shown that less than 50% of our Business Development Managers are actively involved in local professional organizations that are closely tied to their business / recruiting plans. Of that 50% that are engaged in local networking, less that 25% participate consistently in those organizations. Most of the time they show up sporadically and hand out business cards but leave shortly afterwards! Lastly, less than 5% of salespeople have consistently supported their local professional organizations to where they have earned a spot on the board.

Get out of the offices and off the phones and meet people personally. If you talk to the top producers in our industry, they will tell you that active involvement in their local community is critical to their success. Find two to three local professional organizations that are closely tied to your office’s business model and get involved.

Grow your virtual network on LinkedIn, BranchOut, and Facebook with the following values as defined in Bob Littell’s book, The Heart and Art of Netweaving, which gives us clear direction:

  • Be a connector of other people with their Needs, Problems, and Opportunities in mind — not yours.
  • Position yourself as the “no strings attached” resource for others and establish yourself as the “go-to” person.
  • Constantly be on the lookout for persons who are “best of breed” at what they do and when you identify one, stay in touch and add to your trusted network.

Advanced Google Search Tools

Today’s Web 3.0 world provides us with the opportunity to automate alerts and organize tons of Internet data like never before. There’s no reason for you not to be completely informed with “behind the scenes” information prior to making your first call.

You’ve heard that “people like to buy, they don’t like to be sold” and that rings true in our business as well. As a business development manager your success will be directly related to your ability to understand and identify the challenges that your prospective clients have with regard to staff augmentation and more specifically how staff augmentation plays a role in their company’s mission statement. Their challenges are normally centered on the following:

  • Quality of Consultants
  • Quantity of Consultants
  • Availability of Consultants
  • Time to Fill
  • Productivity of Consultants
  • Communications or Follow Up

90% of the time your competition struggles in those areas and it will be your job to identify them through various resources including your Recruiting Team, Internet Research, or Internal Coaches. You’ll need to know the challenges so you can position specific questions to bring these challenges to the surface. Once surfaced, it will be your job to walk clients through the process they have in place and to help them realize that if that process is left unchanged it may have negative bottom line impact.

If you fail to show them how you can raise the level of service, resolve problems, fix pain, or that you can challenge their “bench” of approved vendors, then the only means of winning that prospect will be through lowering your price. Anyone can gain clients by lowering pricing but to build “sustainable business relations” you will have to outperform the competition. Your competitive advantage is your strategic approach to resolving problems and improving proficiencies with regard to how companies utilize temporary staffing consultants to meet company objectives. Without that, you are only as good as the next salesperson that should happen to call. Know their PAIN, Know your SOLUTIONS.

Activity-Based Metrics

Too often, we tend to focus on the end result by concentrating on the number of submits per week or the number of appointments you had this week. Don’t get me wrong — those are important KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) to follow; however, you could make your weekly quota of meetings and submits week after week and still not be close to driving revenue at the end of the month.

Activity without “quality” is just a wasted exercise of time, resources, and company money. – Daniel Guelzo

If you really want to measure recruiter activity then measure:

  • The number of recruiting calls you make to get a passive candidate.
  • The number of submittals you make to get an interview.
  • The number of interviews or “send outs” you schedule to get a hire.
  • The number of passive referrals you receive each week from the active candidate you interview.
  • The number of relationships you make each week with place-able, source-able, and Centers of Influence (COI’s) professionals that match your “recruiting and business” plan.

If you really want to measure Account Executives’ activity then measure:

  • The number of Appointment Action Calls you make to get a face-to-face meeting.
  • The number challenges you discover each time you meet with a decision maker.
  • The number of times you are invited back to continue the discovery process.
  • The number of meetings it takes before you are able to provide valuable solutions.
  • The number of unsolicited “referrals” you get from your existing clients.

Job Order / Submittal Standards

Our industry has two gigantic time wasters, 1) taking and investing valuable man hours on unqualified job orders with little or no Return-on -Investment (ROI) and 2) recruiting, interviewing, and submitting lack-luster candidates. Unfortunately this has become 70-80% of our activity. Let me try to set clear standards here:

Job Order Standards (See attached)

  1. A “priority order” is one that your recruiting team can submit three qualified candidates to immediately.
  2. It matches your “Like Industry / Like Skill Set” objectives.
  3. It has as a minimum all of the following attributes:
    • A well-defined description of key elements and requirements to include functional title, vertical, applications or degrees, size of project or people, and experience
    • Short Term / Long Term Objectives of the role
    •  Selling Points of Interest
    • Desirable company that will work with you to fill the opening

Submittal Standards

  1. A “qualified candidate” is one that matches your “Like Industry / Like Skill Set” objectives
  2. Is activity seeking opportunities to upgrade their career
  3. Willing to work with you honestly in representing them with the minimum attributes:
    • Matches the key elements and requirements to include functional title, vertical, applications or degrees, size of project or people, and experience
    • Has justifiable accomplishments that relate to Short Term / Long Term Objectives
    • Verifiable references from influential supervisors that are willing to speak to our clients

Going back to the quote at the beginning of this article, Mr. Nightingale is correct in saying that we need a plan, a road map, and the courage to chase our dreams. Too often we start the year with a just a goal of doing better or closing more business or making more money. That’s not enough. A well-defined plan includes specific, actionable activities, which can be measured to see if desired results have been accomplished. Dreams are measured by win or fail, but individual action items needed to accomplish a dream can be measured and each successful completion gives us the courage to continue.

Good hunting this year!

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