004: Tom Erb – How to Expand your Sales Team while Amplifying your Sales Pipeline with Scalable Processes

Is it time to turbo charge your sales? Along with being the CEO of Tallann Resourcing, Tom Erb is an influential leader in the recruitment industry. He has 20 years of experience in this field, and a published book called Winning the Staffing Sales Game. This podcast focuses heavily on how to sell in the recruitment space, how to motivate your team, and what metrics you should be looking to track in your business.

Short transcript

David Alonso:  There's obviously a difficulty for the people trying to get new business, maybe it's just me, but I'm enjoying the fact that when I get a good phone call, I want to listen. It's something interesting there's a hook there, and most of the people that I come across, they're just too scared to actually have those tough conversations with prospects nowadays, because they already feel that it's going to fail before they start. How do you do you motivate people, coach them around these pieces?

Tom Erb: Well, and to your point, it's getting harder and harder to get somebody live on the phone. It's not uncommon for me to talk to somebody, or coach a sales rep where we actually see the numbers where they're having a 30 to 1 ratio or higher. So, there's a lot of failure that's going into that.

So, part of what the process does, is we try and reach out to them ahead of time and try to catch their attention so we can bring that ratio back down to a more manageable number. The biggest reason is, is because they don't know what to say, and they're not calling with a purpose.

When they don't call you back, which nobody calls you back, you're disappointed. You feel like there's been failure there, and so, I've actually talked to many sales people who have told me that's what their voicemail or that's what their message is.

When we can create messaging that is compelling and that is different than every other staffing company out there and that resonates with prospects, then they're going to have more success, but they're also going to have a lot more confidence going into it, which just has a snowball effect of having more success. So, it just kind of builds on it.

David Alonso:  What about the owners of staffing companies? We all want rockstar recruiters who are going to bring in tons of new business, and hit their targets. How do we kind of get the balance between setting an ambitious targets, but not kind of creating these unmotivated teams or people when they don't hit those targets? So, where's the balance? We all need to hit our targets, we all need to make money, but at what point do we say, "That's too high." Where do you kind of sit as far as when you're consulting your clients on target setting.

Tom Erb: Yeah, it's actually pretty easy. It's have two targets. You should have a quota target, that in our industry typically is gross margin dollars on new business, and that quota target should be a reasonable goal that provides the return on investment that you're looking for out of that position.

David Alonso: So, apart from maybe not moving too soon, and passing over, what are the common mistakes would you say? It sounds harsh, but what are the common mistakes that CEOs make when they're trying to grow their business. Is there any sort of things that you come across all the time with CEOs?

Tom Erb:  Yeah, a couple things. One is not delegating, is trying to do everything on their own. We see that over and over again, and the other is not having a sales process or even, I wouldn't even just leave it with sales, but I would say processes and accountability and metrics in general both on the sales and the recruiting side. It's starting to track performance.

The second piece is the metrics, and then I probably would add in a third to this, because it's really important is, most of us don't spend enough time and effort in hiring the right internal people, and so as the owner of the company, that should be a big part of their responsibility is not just going out and running a craigslist ad and seeing who unemployed is going to show up, but really going through the process of saying, "Who is it that I want in this position? Who's going to help me really propel my company? What is it that I really need them to do?"

David Alonso:  You've been in the business for 20 years, right? So, there obviously challenges in staffing. What do you think kind of the biggest challenges to today's CEOs and this market? What are they really facing? What are the challenges now or maybe in the next year or so?

Tom Erb:  Well, without a doubt it's the talent pool. The talent pool is the number one biggest issue and you see that if you take a look at the quarterly earnings reports of the publicly traded companies. They're all saying, "Well, we grew by 4%, but we could've grown a lot more if we had the people."

David Alonso: The smallest staffing firm may feel they can't compete with bigger one, with brand, with resources. What do they need to do to attract these people? Is it us humans? Is that the only real changeable thing that people need to focus on? That they're different. They're the ones that work involving the actual company and brand itself. How do they get those candidates to work for them?

Tom Erb:  Yeah, I think it can be a combination of both. You've got to have a candidate value prop, just the same as we were talking about, the sales value prop, we have to have a candidate value prop. What is it that's going to attract people to us? If we're talking about contract staffing, which in staffing, that's most of what we have, then they're going to be our employee. They're going to go in one of our clients.

David Alonso:  So, how important is social and the impact of that on the actual staffing to be able to attract the candidates through the door?

Tom Erb:  I think it's absolutely critical. It's such an important piece, and I'll tell you we have actually proof that it's an important piece because when we go out and we teach people how to proactively recruit or to use our sales process to go out and sell, what we see in both cases are that they're Linkedin profiles spike, of the sales rep or the recruiter.

So, you're getting vetted on social media. You're getting vetted out on the website. If we think about the way that people buy now, people buy through proof. We have more proof than ever before. We have more ways to research things, and that's how we all buy. You're going to buy a new TV. What do you do? You go to consumer reports online. You go to the Amazon reviews. You go and you ask your friends out on Facebook, "Hey, does every bought this TV before?"

It's the same exact thing from sales, and it's the same thing for recruiting as well. Now, if we're trying to recruit people, they're going checking out your Linkedin profile. They're checking out your Facebook page. They're checking out your Linkedin page, your website, Glass Door, Google Reviews, everything, they're going everywhere. So, it is ... it's more critical now than ever.