BLOG: Prospecting in an Over-Crowded Marketplace
The economic recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic decimated many industries. Unemployment continues to lag behind economic growth in the US; however, the IT and engineering staffing industry is back to pre-pandemic levels. The lockdowns significantly affected how we do business. With our industry as competitive as ever, our prospecting must adapt to the new normal.
Speaking to managers in the places we already do business is hard enough in the current workplace environment. Building relationships and getting “added” as a newly approved vendor is nearly impossible if you aren’t changing how you prospect.
Get in Front of Your Clients and Prospects
The current work restrictions regarding networking have dramatically changed. Pre-Covid, we had the luxury of choosing between going into a client’s office or meeting people at events. Now, in person meetings are the exception and we must optimize the means available to ensure we are consistently adding prospects and developing new relationships.
Rick Carlson, Sales and Recruiting Management Program Director from TechServe Alliance and Founder/President at Harvyst Consulting Partners, recalls a client of his who set up a driveway meeting with a manager. He brought coffee and donuts to the client instead of meeting in his office. Rick urges all staffing firms to find a way to stay in front of clients and prospects without harassing them.
The subliminal message you want to get across is, “I won’t harass you, but I’m not going away.”
Expand Your Prospecting Strategies
Creating unique, socially-distant strategies to get in front of clients isn’t enough; you must bring value to be successful. Instead of sending a generic cold email about your work history or your company’s capability, give your opinion, and ask for theirs on a topic related to their industry supported by articles, surveys, and references to webinars.
Improve Email and Video Mail
Rick urges sales people to never send a cold email with an attachment. We all read email in a similar fashion – “who sent this? If I do not know them, what is the subject, and if the subject interests me but there is an attachment, delete”. If you are referencing an article, blog post, or personal video message, include an excerpt from or the URL to the aforementioned article. Attachments will dramatically lower your open rate.
Video messages are a great way to build relationships when we are unable to meet face-to-face. Use them to send an invite, request a zoom call, follow-up after a discussion, or deliver a personal message such as a happy birthday or anniversary.
Rick’s tips for getting emails opened starts with the subject line. We must write short, compelling subjects that get the receiver’s attention. Keep emails relatively short with plenty of white space. And by all means, have a call to action (your action not theirs).Rick recommends sending emails Sunday or Monday night, so the prospect receives them early in the week and can plan accordingly.
Always Work on Your Game
In a competitive marketplace turned upside down due to COVID-19, we must continually improve our selling skills and abilities. Rick compares the work necessary to that of Tiger Woods. Even if you think you have enough business, you have to continue to get better. While Tiger Woods was the number one golfer in the world, he still changed his swing four times. We should never be complacent enough to think that we cannot improve our skills.
Rick encourages us all to ask ourselves, “What are you doing to improve yourself?” It has always been essential to continue to evolve our craft, but as technology and the way we do business changes, urgency is at an all-time high.
Members can access the Prospecting in an Over-Crowded Marketplace webinar through the TechServe Online Learning Center.