In a previous role, I sold a recruitment process outsourcing product early in its evolutionary cycle. I evangelized the merits of outsourcing a talent acquisition resource along with my company’s ability to deliver this workforce solution. At the time, few companies outsourced their talent acquisition process/resource, making it a tough sell.

To address the problem, I looked to an emerging industry list called HRO Today’s RPO Baker’s Dozen, which evaluated — with buyer input — providers of RPO solutions and services. At that time, participating RPO solution providers needed to lobby their clients to contribute opinions on their RPO solutions and services to generate this annual, marketplace list. Landing a spot on that list gave providers credibility — and I can attest it greatly improved my ability to sell in that early-stage, marketplace.

Credible Endorsements

Leveraging such marketplace lists can make the first cold-calling steps in the sales process easier. It can even create some productive lead generation momentum. These lists can endorse a provider’s solution brand and delivery knowledge. We see it all the time in our consumer experience with such organizations as Consumer Reports; Angie’s List; or CNET for product, services and provider capability reviews. It is not uncommon for buyers to turn to industry lists for provider names when undertaking RFx initiatives. We see it here at SIA.

But not all industrywide, market “credibility” lists are accessible to every player in the marketplace, especially for smaller workforce solution providers. Theoretically, a Baker’s Dozen list would only include 13 provider names in a marketplace that operates with potentially thousands. Luckily, there are other options open to providers looking to get noticed.

Regional markets. Opportunities to gain credibility exist in local media platforms. Examples certainly can be found in business magazines such as Crain’s Chicago Business or Boston Business Journal featuring specific perspectives and segmentation such as Best Event Spaces In Chicago, Best Places to Work For or Fast 50. Capturing a spot on such lists in your specific region will provide some real cred in your markets.

Leveraging industry associations can also enhance selling efforts. Establishing a membership link to one’s industry association — national or local — can create a best practices image for a provider’s operating brand and boost sales energies. For instance, many staffing associations share best practices for staffing and workforce solution firms to better conduct business.

Are You Certified?

Certifications are another tool used by providers to enhance their credibility — especially those who are too small or too niche-market to capture a place on an annual, industrywide, marketplace credibility list. These certifications can be quite specific to the solution services and expertise that the provider delivers, such as SIA’s Certified Contingent Workforce Professional program; ASA’s CSP Certification to certify staffing professional’s knowledge of marketplace regulations; and a Six Sigma certification for those who are outsourcing solutions such as MSP or RPO engagements. These certifications validate a level of expertise that is highly respected in the sales process for specific deal opportunities.

But at the end of the day, such a sales enhancement effort needs to be closely married to your customer experience. Maybe it’s an annual customer satisfaction survey or even a net promoter score initiative. Such initiatives provide marketplace evidence of why your company is on an industry list or why it has acquired established industry certifications. When specific customers’ outlooks confirm your market credibility as one of the leading providers in the markets in which you operate, you can leverage this standing to close more sales successfully.