As an economist and a longtime veteran of the staffing industry, I’ve endured five recessions — and enjoyed many years of exciting growth.

As of this writing, employment growth is at a record-long 93 consecutive months and the unemployment rate, at about 4.0%, hovers near a 17-year low. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows staffing is growing slightly better than 3.0% annually.

Even during a slower-growth employment period, our dynamic economy generates many underlying opportunities. Given the need to grow while staying vital and relevant in the competitive staffing pool, here are my thoughts on components of a successful staffing sales program covering three areas.

Strategic positioning statement. Does your positioning influence your sales program?

  • We develop employees and help them succeed, or we hire the best and pay them exceptionally well to perform.
  • We provide premium value to our customers, or we are the lowest cost, most efficient provider.
  • We are a high-performing organization, or we are family.

One can see that alternative positioning statements suggest very different strategies.

Sales culture. Do you recognize any of these?

  • Promote and conspicuously demonstrate your values.
  • Secure top management commitment
  • Communicate buy in; there is no such thing as overcommunicating.
  • Establish basic expectations
  • Invest in support materials and sales tools.
  • Develop a repeatable sales process that includes a structured, progressive multi-touch campaign.
  • Encourage cross-selling, upselling and/or strategic account penetration.
  • Rank results and share them.
  • Celebrate top performers.
  • Continuously learn, train, coach, improve and adapt.

Value proposition. Next, make sure your value proposition encompasses the critical focus on customer value:

  • What segment of the market do you service and why?
  • What are the important features, advantages, and benefits of your service that address customer challenges?
  • What do you do well? Is this valuable to customers?
  • How do you define and demonstrate your unique characteristics?
  • Why do your customers use you rather than your competition?

There are miscellaneous items to consider:

  • Focus on a niche/specialty: Leverage research, recruiting, and networking efforts and build a significant, exclusive brand.
  • Leverage technology: Deploy a CRM to reinforce processes, enhance organizational tasks, analyze and improve progress, and facilitate coaching and development.
  • Continuously conduct skill marketing: Build a database of buyers for specific skills sets and target those buyers with your best candidates.
  • Align marketing and sales departments so they complement each other.
  • Poor performers with positive values and commitment deserve time and coaching. Poor performers without these characteristics are encouraged to move on.
  • Always be looking for potential sales talent!

The combination of economic data, labor statistics and marketing research is the foundation to craft a successful selling program. Sales is a numbers game, but that does not mean you forgo strategy as well.

Finally, even though we are competitors, at the end of the day, we are the ultimate people business. Represent yourself, your company and our noble industry with integrity, honor, and pride in all your endeavors.