As an account executive for a marketing workforce solutions provider, I have seen how marketing as well as the process of selling contingent workforce solutions are constantly evolving.
Just as our workforce of professionals have embraced disruptive technologies like mobile devices and social media to market more effectively, our salesforce has changed its strategies to sell more successfully to large, increasingly complex technology organizations.
The wrong approach. We used to sell our services directly to a new contact within the company’s marketing organization. That person had probably obtained an outside reference, worked with us at another company, or connected with us through our network, so they’d already be interested in working with us. At that point, we’d ask our contact to set us up as a vendor at the company so we could do business together.
Sometimes that person didn’t know how to manage the vendor setup process, lengthening the process. Other times that person didn’t have the time or just didn’t want to go through the hassle, so the deal didn’t happen at all. Still others, we would get quite far down the sales cycle (like identifying a candidate) only to learn the company was not accepting any new vendors.
The problem with this approach was that we were putting all of the work on our potential client, when the client needs us to lighten their workloads. That clearly wasn’t the best approach.
New, quicker path. Now, when we target a new company, we work to secure vendor status first. Once we’re on the vendor list, it’s a much quicker path to engaging in business with our new contacts — and creating other new opportunities within the organization. So if you want to secure vendor status within a company, what does this mean for your salespeople? Here are a few things to keep in mind:
The target has changed. No more soliciting business from managers, directors- and department VPs — even if those are the people with whom you’ll work once you get the contract. Instead, you need to set your sights on contacts in operations, procurement, and/or vendor/supplier management departments. These people were once influencers, but now they’re your primary targets because they’re in charge of vendor approvals.
Sales tactics have changed. When you’re speaking to these new targets, you’re not asking them for business. You’re engaging more as a business partner who’s doing due diligence in the process of getting on the vendor list.
As part of that due diligence, you need to clearly differentiate your company from your competitors.
Crawford Group highlights two key points: that we specialize in marketing talent and as a WBENC-certified woman-owned business, we’re a trusted diverse supplier. These distinctions create opportunities for us because they’re often highly valued by operations, procurement, and vendor/supplier management teams.
Know the VMO. Many large enterprises now use vendor management organizations as gatekeepers to keep vendor lists manageable and costs down. If you’re dealing with a VMO, it’s important to convey that, as a supplier, your company will be transparent and honest in all dealings and contacts within the company. In short, the VMO needs to know that you’ll play by the rules.
Also, be sure you understand the partnership between the VMO and your potential client(s) within the organization. For example, does the VMO have a “no touch” policy, so that once you’re approved as a vendor you must work exclusively through the VMO and have no contact with the client?
No matter what type of staffing you provide, you’ll accelerate sales and account penetration if you identify your differentiator and become an approved vendor first. By adjusting your sales targets, you’ll have a great shot at connecting with new clients and accelerate sales.