Most staffing companies talk ad nauseam about their differentiators: We have access to the best talent at the lowest rates while delivering the highest level of service. The harsh reality is that the majority of staffing firms are pretty similar to one another.

You may be thinking, “That’s ridiculous. We are far superior to our competition. We have better people, processes, training, and we know our business.” That may be true — but do you know theirs? The last thing clients want to hear is a cookie-cutter sales pitch. What they do care about is how you will make their lives easier. In my experience, here’s what will set you apart.

Invest. Take time to familiarize yourself with the intricacies of their business. That alone will set you apart from your peers. Having a thorough understanding of their business, pain points and where they are going as an organization before you meet with them is meaningful.

And it happens less often than you think. So, to truly differentiate yourself, do your homework and be prepared to talk about how exactly you can help:

  • Who are the client’s principal competitors?
  • How are individuals at the client rewarded or judged?
  • What is the client/division’s strategic plan for that fiscal year?
  • What were their most successful projects last year and why?

All this research will enable you to utilize your time in a more meaningful way when you eventually meet face to face.

Understand. You are one piece of a very large puzzle. Recognizing how you can successfully solve their staffing needs while also considering what their organization is doing from a total talent management perspective is key. Understanding how they manage their full-time resources; what technologies they use in other parts of the organization (ERP, VMS, performance/learning management, procurement platforms, etc.) to help manage labor; what integrations are in place; what service organizations they use (MSP, VoP); and what their pain points are with each can provide valuable insight into how you can best help their business.

Empower. Clients today are constantly prioritizing the demands of their business. They are forced to staff projects with limited budgets while competing with internal priorities and are being pressured to automate and bring efficiency everywhere possible. Successful staffing companies know how to provide thought leadership and bring ideas to the table their clients can quickly apply to enable them to do their jobs better.

Your staff likely has large, diverse backgrounds so use them to your benefit. Talk with your staff before you have a first meeting. You’ll be surprised how many of them have either worked with them in another life, have read something online about their business, or know someone within the organization you could use to glean invaluable knowledge.

Implement. Our clients are experts in their business and they need partners who are experts in theirs. We are immersed in what’s happening in our field and it’s easy to assume our clients know what we know. They don’t. Bring new ideas clients can implement that will make an immediate impact to their business. Send whitepapers, talk about what’s working well at other clients in similar fields, be proactive without expectations. Our clients have hundreds of vendors they deal with on a day-to-day basis and very few true partners. You shouldn’t need to articulate your desire to be a partner; act like one from the very beginning.

None of these are remarkable or new ideas, but it takes diligence and patience to invest in an organization that may not result in new business in the short term. Doing so, however, has proven to deliver dividends and warrant future business beyond a mainstream vendor relationship. This approach has absolutely helped us sell better with a higher close rate.