business development advice for staffing agencies

Business Development for Staffing Agencies and Recruiters

Staffing and recruiting companies have a sixth sense for hot passive candidates.

But business development and expanding into new markets might not be second nature.

Meet Steve Bryerton, ZoomInfo’s Vice President of Sales. Steve sat down with Maurice Fuller, founder of StaffingTec and the New Vector Group, to reveal biz dev strategies that staffing firm leaders can  – or should be – doing to grow their business and find more clients.

Steve shows:

  • How to find and focus on decision-makers
  • How staffing firms can build customer relationships faster
  • How to use video to personalize and differentiate yourself
  • How to get creative with direct mail
  • How small staffing agencies can win big against enterprise competitors
  • How recruiters can expand within accounts
  • How to leverage opportunity data
  • How to be the first staffing agency in the door with intent data
  • How to use intelligence to land and expand
  • How to integrate your existing CRM or applicant-tracking systems work

Watch the full interview on StaffingTec TV.

Read on for tried-and-true sales development strategies that staffing and recruiting firms can use today to get more clients.

10 Biz Dev Strategies for Staffing & Recruitment Agencies

1. Find and Focus on Decision Makers.

First thing first: If you have direct access to decision-makers with budgetary discretion, how do you start honing in on the people we should be contacting?

Aim for a multi-threaded relationship – and look for planned projects.

“You’ll need to uncover not just one key stakeholder,” says Bryerton, “but look for multiple points of contact. Otherwise, when your single point of contact leaves the company or moves to a different department, you’ll have to rebuild the relationship from scratch with someone new. Or lose the deal altogether.”

First, look for information about company events:

  • Upcoming projects
  • Rounds of hiring and firing – especially new C-level leaders.
  • Financial events like investments or mergers
  • Installed technologies or software in use

Be aware of what projects are coming down the pipe, and what your prospective company’s focus is. What are their pain points?

These events help inform what their problems are, open the door, and highlight the right individuals at the right time. You can find this information yourself by setting up Google Alerts for your company along with hiring-related keywords.

2. Build Customer Relationships Faster.

Fuller wanted to go a little deeper: “What are some of the other things that the savviest staffing firms are doing to build client relationships faster?”

There are a few different techniques for building client relationships at a faster pace. It’s a lot of blocking and tackling so you have to use all the tools you have – and it’s not always sexy.

Look at job responsibilities – not just the title.

You can get direct-dial phone numbers, verified emails, and project data to identify the right people. 

Since titles differ between companies (“Coding Ninja” won’t turn up in a search for “Web Developer”), so remember to look at the job responsibilities.

Use Social Touches and an Email Cadence.

According to Bryerton, the most successful staffing and recruiting companies use social touches and an email cadence or sequence.

Here’s a common process our sales team has used with success:

  • Day 1: Call the prospect.
  • Day 2: Call again and leave a message if you don’t get through.
  • Day 2: Follow-up with an email, and reference your voicemail.
  • Day 3: Call again and leave another message.
  • Day 3: Send them an email if you have it, or a LinkedIn message – and reference the voicemail again.

3. Use Video to Personalize and Differentiate Yourself.

“Video is becoming a great personalized video,” Bryerton says.

In fact, in a recent interview with keynote speaker Jill Konrath told us that including a video in an email introduction was her favorite way of engaging with new vendors. It’s a great way to stand out from the crowd and personalize your message. (How many of your competitors are using video this way?)

Look for video tools like Vidyard, a modest paid subscription; or Loom, which is free, and used by a lot of our sales reps and customers. Tools like this make it easy to record a quick video to lend a face to show that it is personalized.

Bryerton offers this example of using video

Suppose he is trying to reach out and noticed his prospective company had an open request for VP of Marketing. He might record a quick video and say:

Hey Maurice. Steve over here at RapidHire. Noticed you got a position for an open VP of marketing. I’ve got lots of great candidates for you that I think would be really beneficial. We’ve made a lot of other placements for companies like Expedia and Starbucks that are in your area. Give me a call.”

Short. Sweet. Personalized.

Maurice Fuller agrees: “I landed my second-largest account using video to the chairman of a very large billion-dollar company, and it worked fantastically well!”

Pro Tip: Almost no one opens attachments unless they’re expecting something – so be sure to embed the video in the body of the message.

4. Get Creative with Direct Mail.

Sales intelligence tools capture physical addresses, but you may also be able to find this with a Google search of the prospect + company name.

Double-check that address against the main office location: In the age of remote work, these are often different.

5. Win Big Against Enterprise Competitors.

“You mentioned an interesting point,” Fuller says, “that even smaller staffing firms can use the same tools, that large enterprise companies use to get intelligence about their accounts”.

“Yeah, our users run the gamut, big to small,” Bryerton replies. “Here’s an example of a successful play from one small 3-person recruitment shop.”

They sent out a short email to CIOs that they targeted from the Fortune 1000 list, saying:

“I’m sure you’ve got a bunch of projects that are either behind schedule, over-budget, and your livelihood depends on these project getting across the finish line. We’ve been doing this for over 35 years, and we can help.”

Within the first three months, because they had accurate data about the right people, they landed Farmers Insurance and two other major corporations for seven-figure deals. BAM.

6. Leverage Opportunity Data.

“I want to talk about account expansion,” Fuller says. “Suppose you’ve penetrated an account, you’ve found the right person, you’ve developed a relationship with them, you’re receiving job orders, you’ve made placements so you have an account.

“Then you see opportunities to expand and go deeper. How do we do that?”

We call this context opportunity data

These are action-based signals indicating the time is right for purchase, such as leadership changes and funding events.

Graphic illustrating fit, intent, and opportunity data.

Trigger events indicate buying opportunities because they signify the change of budgets and priorities, and new people are anxious to make their mark.

These kinds of opportunities include:

  • Company awards
  • Earnings reports
  • Employee departures
  • Funding
  • Hiring plans
  • Initial Public Offerings (IPO)
  • Layoffs
  • Leadership changes
  • Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A)
  • New hires
  • Open positions
  • Partnerships
  • Product launches
  • Projects and purchase initiatives
  • Promotions
  • Request for Proposal (RFP)

“When companies are experiencing growth, all that new human capital needs to be leveraged and the potential needs to be realized,” adds Brandon Battey, our Senior Sales Manager. “When we reach out to high-growth companies, or companies with specific positions posted, we’ve found a distinct increase in win-rate … without changing a thing about our sales cycle.”

7. Be the First Staffing Agency in the Door with Intent Data.

One of the more unique pieces of data that databases have been focusing on recently is intent data: tracking firms doing a significant amount of research about contingent staffing, employment agencies, IT staffing, or any hiring needs.

Intent data is important because so much of the buying process happens online nowadays. The average B2B buyer is most of the way through the buyer journey before they ever engage with a salesperson.

“Buyers are in that ‘homework phase’ of whittling down their list,” Bryerton says. “And so you miss out on a lot of opportunities that you didn’t even know you were even in the game for! Now we can point you in the direction of organizations that have a significant spike in consuming content related to your topic of choice, so you can be first in the door.”

8. Use Intelligence to Land and Expand.

If you have an existing placement relationship in a company, it’s easy to approach the HR team, or Legal or Finance, or others who might have that position. You can say something like:

“Hey, I’ve been working with John over in IT. I’ve made three placements for him over the course of the last year. Feel free to get his feedback, but I can certainly help you in this area.”

It’s a way to present value. You have a reputable story. You know the names of the other people because you’ve either worked it. This way, your outreach is far more relevant. 

You know what you’re talking about, and they’re far more apt to listen.

“We know that staffing is done,” Fuller says, “wherever IT is. More and more, IT is moving out into the business units. It’s being done directly within marketing departments, within operations. It’s done within HR. It’s no longer the domain strictly of the IT department.”

He continues, “So if we want to find those opportunities, we need to move into other departments. And that’s where org charts can help us get there.”

9. Use the Tech Stack to Get in the Door at Net-New Accounts.

If you don’t have an existing relationship at a company, you’ll want to take a different approach: Leverage their tech stack.

Bryerton suggests: “Suppose you see that the organization is hiring a VP of marketing. You discover that the company uses Marketo, and they also have Highspot as part of their content management system.”

“Reach out to the potential hiring managers, or the organization directly, with a compelling message like this:

“‘Hey, I understand you’ve got an open-rec for a VP of marketing. We have a large pool of people that we can pull from, including several who are Marketo-certified and have experience with Highspot. Can we set up a time to talk?’

“Show that you’ve done your homework, use some of those data points as a jumping-off point, and watch your response rate and conversion rate skyrocket.”

10. Integrate Your Existing CRM or Applicant-Tracking Systems.

Fuller posed some questions: How do systems work together? Do you have to use your data platform to access the data? What if you have your own applicant tracking system (ATS)?

The other advantage of integrating is constant data refresh. The result is a very high level of accuracy, and the highest percentage of direct lines and emails. 

Technology information, projects, scoops, and more are layered so that now you can go to one source, eliminate a lot of the back and forth that you’re doing between tools.

And with integrations, it can live right within your ecosystem.

Bryerton says, “there’s a good chance that a business email address that worked six months ago is no longer valid now.” That’s one of the reasons why constant data refresh is so important.

New data points are added at a constant rate to your prospects or candidates. Likewise, you’re probably trying to uncover projects or new insight on your target clients all the time. 

Integrations make the data actionable. With these kinds of integrations, it’s easy to get your prospective candidates in a call campaign, get them in an email sequence. Automate some of those touches.

To Sum: A Tech Revolution in Staffing and Recruiting Business Development.

“It’s kind of amazing when you think about it.” Fuller says. “Up until a few years ago, you were kind of flying blind when you were trying to work into an account. And now, the right tools, it’s like you just have this visual understanding of the complete account that you’re trying to go into, the job is easier.”

“Not that sales is easy,” he adds, “but certainly helps a lot!”

The “Democratization” of Data.

Bryerton agrees. “Years ago, it was a very different way of selling. Enterprise organizations were able to dominate the market because they had the resources, they had the money, they had the ability to build those relationships. It was far more difficult for early-stage or mid-stage companies to break down those walls.”

Now the challenge is that there’s so much data available now. Too much, in some cases. You have all of these different services: LinkedIn, Google searches, company websites. Aggregator data tools and RSS feeds… The list goes on.

A lot of the sources come up short in the data they’re collecting (because it’s not made public), and in their verification and cleansing. This leaves you to sort through the mountain of information to figure out what’s real and what’s not and how to fill the gaps left. That’s not something any of us want to do.


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