In the ever-evolving landscape of recruitment, one thing remains constant: the vital role of sales skills and BD in driving growth and success. In today's market, mastering the art of sales is more critical than ever before. Did you know that 48% of salespeople never make a single follow-up attempt? And whilst I can slide when the market is booming, during shifts like we’re experiencing now it’s a straight way to sinking.
So, what sets top-performing sales professionals apart from the rest? It all comes down to honing your sales techniques to perfection. We were joined during our Firefish Crowdcast this month by Brad Shackleton, a ‘Million Pound Biller’ Recruiter and a sales coach for the recruitment industry, who shared some of the key tips to developing a successful BD strategy and driving revenue even in the hardest of times.
Whether you're a seasoned sales veteran or just starting your career, his tips will provide valuable insights and guidance to help you enhance your sales skills – so you never feel threatened, no matter what the market is like!
"How do you break business development down to be the most successful without pages and pages of theory and content? Well, there are 5 things that are the most important."
Brad told us that the first thing he did when working on his sales coaching strategy was figure out how to create a business development road to success without having to go through an ocean of theory and pages of content. That’s how he created the 5 P’s of BD.
The biggest question to ask yourself is where is the biggest opportunity to make a profit in the market right now? And whilst a lot of recruiters head straight to targeting new business, it’s not the starting point Brad sees as the most profitable. You need to find people who are your ambassadors first – those who already love you and can introduce you to other businesses and become your advocates. At the end of the day, 9 out of 10 people say they are more likely to trust what an existing customer says about the product/service than what the business owner says about it themselves. Having a network of advocates for your services alongside determining where the profits are currently in your niche is the very first step to skyrocketing your profits. You might want to research your competitors and see who they’re doing business with that you might be missing out on, too. A big part of that research is realising that generic recruitment isn’t as profitable as it used to be – and according to Brad, niching down is the very key to making a good living. With so many recruitment agencies offering their services, it’s vital that you can stand out from the crowd with your specialised expertise and experience within a specific niche.
The next step to success is simply figuring out how can you get into those ponds of potential clients you researched earlier. And whilst there might be a lot of different strategies going into this, the very first thing you need to do is just start a conversation. As Brad says, ‘People only deal with people that they know, like, and trust.’ – so coming in hot with a perfect sales pitch right off the bat is often not the way to win new business. You need to stop asking yourself how to get them to use your services and start asking how to get them to like and trust you. And what comes in handy here is good, old networking. Sure, as much as a lot of the day-to-day has moved online in the recent years, if you’ve got the opportunity to stand in front of someone in the flesh, have a conversation, and share your expertise, you’ll most likely be remembered a lot more than if you had just jumped on a call with them or spammed them with emails.
The third P that Brad talks about is also one of the reasons a lot of people might have a fear of getting out there and networking – their pitch. What is it that you actually have to offer – and more importantly, how does your offer differ from hundreds of similar ones? People are not only interested in your agency, but also in yourself, your background, and personal experience. Have you heard the saying ‘people buy people’? It’s still as relevant as ever, which is why when creating a pitch, you need to throw in personal details that a lot of recruiters forget about. So, when working on your pitch, consider these key factors:
- Your personal background and experience.
- Your process and the way you work – how does it differ from those of your competitors? What are your morals and values?
- Your results to date – you have to prove to the prospect that the methods you talk about actually helped people in similar situations.
Of course, there are other key aspects of a successful pitch, but the areas mentioned by Brad above are at the very core of achieving new business. Which brings us to the fourth P:
The reason why so many recruiters fail at pitching their services successfully is because they generally lack the confidence and passion about what they do, who they are, and why they do it. Knowing why your services are different and can help your prospects, having confidence in yourself and your skillset gives you an upper hand when pitching. You stand a bit taller, you speak clearer, you smile – and generally are a lot more genuine than if you were just reciting something your boss wrote for you.
The key thing to remember is that this drive and passion often come from experience, knowledge of the industry and your business, as well as confidence in yourself that you build over time. The deeper you dive into your offer, tweak it, practice your pitch, and learn from feedback, the smoother your next encounters with new potential clients will go.
After you’ve set the scene – introduced yourself, your services, and your main selling points, it’s time to engage with the prospect. Brad mentioned to us that whilst speaking to a new potential client, you should be doing 20% of the talking whilst they’re doing 80%. Finding out about their day-to-day, struggles, victories, and so on will not only allow you to identify their pain points (or qualify them at all), but also create a more natural bond which takes the pressure off of pitching and selling.
For more unique sales tactics, listen to the Crowdcast!
As a Senior Marketing Executive, Martha keeps all our written content on point, sharing the latest tips and updates from the recruitment industry.