I began my career as a contingent workforce professional on the supply side. I remember how much each placement would mean to me personally, because it meant that I was helping another person find a job and another team get closer to achieving their goals or a project outcome. I still recall the details of my first very placement — how long it took to find the right match and the number of attempts it took to finally lock down my candidate.
Eventually, I accepted a position working for a VMS/MSP and appreciated my time as the liaison to the staffing suppliers and the buyers. It was an exciting way to help even more people. Taking a position on the buy side was not initially part of my plan, but when the opportunity was presented, it seemed like the perfect way to expand my footprint in this ecosystem.
I really enjoy the time I spend collaborating with industry friends at conferences or periodic touch points. We share updates, situational advice, catch up on the current trends and the “who’s who” of the industry. We also often joke about someday writing a book of “crazy staffing” stories, lessons learned, or even a few simple words of wisdom.
In that spirit, I present some words of wisdom based on my own lessons learned along my journey; I hope they may help you along yours.
People talk. It might seem big, but this industry is small, and people talk. I recommend that you keep this in mind during your own daily practices, and remind your candidates as well. Remember the game of telephone when you were a kid? By the time the “secret” made it around the circle, the message sounded very different.
Since we don’t always know at what point around the circle the message changes so dramatically, it’s best practice to be seen in a positive light.
Know the team. Not all program teams are the source of the proverbial “black hole” (MSP or internally managed). I have seen some amazing program teams, and I have also seen teams that struggle to bring value. Either way, get to know the program team. You can help them and share ideas of what is working well with other clients. Together, you can work toward a solution to that “black hole” problem.
The long game. The days of being able to “do everything” in a sales pitch are over. It’s far more intriguing to hear that a certain skill set may not be an area of specialty, however their real niche is in another skill set and they share examples of what they’ve done to differentiate themselves. This is a long game, so build the relationship and lay a genuine foundation.
Priorities. Know your boundaries between “sweating the small stuff” and “mission critical.” There are minimum program requirements for a reason (including regulatory, compliance and legal). If you’re negotiating below a minimum requirement, understand how it may impact your position in the program, and may even result in removal. Although you may have an established relationship or exceptional performance scores, ask yourself if this sticking point is mission critical to your company, or if you might just be “sweating the small stuff.”
Have a plan! Salespeople, please have a plan. Know if you’re calling in to an existing customer. Think about how that lack of preparation may impact the relationship your own colleague spent so long building. I have yet to hear of a reason that 10 new business development people from one company should be making sales calls to a prospective client at the same time. The appearance of organization can go a long way toward your first impressions. At the end of the day, we’re all here to do a job — whichever side of this industry we may be servicing.