Jeff Farrington joins other FocusCFO team members to discuss the recovery. 6/3/2020
Awecomm Testimonial – Jeff Farrington
“One of the objectives I have had over the past few years is to continue to strengthen Awecomm’s relationship and expertise as it relates to financial matters. We have a regional CPA firm doing our transactional accounting, a great local firm handling our taxes, I am a part of a business coaching group and know a lot of smart people there, and of course our relationship with FocusCFO. The one that paid off the most in this situation was obviously you and FocusCFO – thank you again!”
David Townsend, President, Awecomm, Troy, MI
Early in my career I met a client who spoke about when Mr. Kelly would drive his station wagon to General Motors each morning and provide one of the Kelly Girl secretaries for various GM executives. Times have surely changed regarding the many options employers and employees have in the employment equation.
Direct hire employment still consists of the bulk of relationships in the workforce. Whether because of low unemployment, flexible staffing needs or improved efficiencies, let’s examine three other options available; temporary staffing, outsourcing and fractional services. To keep the concepts consistent, we’ll look at each option through the lens of financial staffing alternatives.
Temporary staffing has grown in popularity since the 1950s. In the 1980’s Robert Half introduced the concept of specialized staffing by providing financial staffing services. Generally speaking, temporary staff are recruited and interviewed by the service and matched up with the proposed client. Markups usually range from 1.4 to 1.7 of base compensation though based on volume and skills it can be higher or lower. The temporary employee works at the client site under the supervision of the client. When a full-time interim need occurs, this can be a very beneficial arrangement and in some situations the employee is offered employment at the client site, though a transition fee is often part of the pre- agreement.
Outsourcing is often different than temporary in two ways. First, the entire group or department is outsourced, so the need to develop and improve processes are a large component of this arrangement.
Using the accounting group scenario; the Controller, accountants and accounting clerks are often not on-site or are on-site on a limited basis. The work is often handled in an off-site group setting amongst other clients that the company handles. Some companies believe that outsourcing a non-essential function is a better use of their resources. With the proliferation of on-line accounting systems this has become an ever-increasing development. Some firms even send the work offshore to lower cost countries.
Fractional services are the newest of the alternatives, though the segment has been growing rapidly over the past several decades, especially with small and mid-sized organizations. With the small and mid-sized firms, they reach a stage where they need to bring in professional management with experience that can augment the talents of the founding leadership group. On the other hand, they don’t have the ability to afford, nor the need to retain high quality expertise on a full-time basis. This matches up with the professionals who would be bored or underutilized if they were working full time at this size organization. The answer is to work part-time as a win-win for both sides. Changing demographics have provided a boost as well with experienced professionals being available for less than a full-work week as they transition in their career from a 40 to 60-hour work week.
The other key with fractional services is that some of these professionals work on-site, embedded into the leadership of an organization. It’s not just looking at the numbers and creating a financial model, it’s consistent conversations with ownership and various leaders in the organization to develop key performance indicators, develop what-if scenarios that help the owner make better and more timely decisions. In addition, some fractional service firms work in a team environment allowing the individual professional to leverage the knowledge of the overall team. This is different than temporary staffing where the individual is on an island and bring only the knowledge they personally have.
Temporary, outsourcing or fractional services. Each alternative can be the right decision based on the situation and goals of an organization. If you’d like to discuss the various options, I can be reached at email@example.com and I’ll be glad to discuss them with you.
At one point about six years into my career I had a new boss, who eventually became my best mentor. His name is Mike and he asked me if I’d start doing some of the corporate sales training for new associates. I responded that I’m not a very good salesperson – those people are aggressive and the life of the party, I’m more analytical and just want to help people. He chuckled, which was about the most emotion you could get out of this former CPA turned Division President of a billion-dollar organization, and Mike said; exactly – you’re one of the top performers in the company because you listen and want to solve their issues. Now learn to teach that to others. Books have been written on the subject and training can be days in length. With this brief article I hope to impart some of what I’ve learned along the way.
Some People Just Seem to “Get It”
Before I start with the science versus art debate, let’s address the most important component of the process – the human that is delving into the world of B2B sales. I believe finding the right person is imperative for success. Along the way, the following attributes have been identified in those successful people. You’ll notice “life of the party” is not one of them!
First and foremost, the person should be intuitive. Some people just seem to “get it”, while others will follow training and processes and never reach the pinnacle. That trait is intuition. Knowing how to approach a person or situation, or “reading” them. The Meyers-Briggs test is the best I’ve found at identifying that in candidates. Other traits of success would be someone that works hard, has integrity and instills confidence and trust in the person they’re selling to.
The Science – And a Bit of Math Too
Now let’s transition to the Science aspect of selling. The science or structure portion is more so in the pre-meeting stage. For instance; are you fishing in the right pond? Are you calling with the right amount of frequency? Are you developing the right volume? For instance, you can’t hit 30 home runs if you only take 20 at-bats. In fact, know your numbers. If you need 20 at-bats to hit a home run, you better have 600 at-bats to reach your goal. The old adage is that 80 percent of sales comes from 20 percent of your clients. What is often forgotten is that those 20 percent of decision makers that we call “A” accounts can and often do change. You still need the “B” and “C” accounts to develop into “A” accounts, as your best clients will transition off at times. Just call on the Bs and Cs less frequently.
It’s All in the Details
Finally, do you document and follow up as needed. It’s hard to instill confidence with your client if you allow items to fall through the cracks. Appointments missed, follow-up items not done as promised – all signs of a person that doesn’t take their profession seriously.
The Art – Asking the Right Questions
The client or referral partner meeting is one that could be labeled as the art of selling. For instance, are you asking the right questions? Are you listening for signals of the direction they want the conversation to go, or are you just waiting for the next opening to say your next piece you learned to say? In my training sessions I often would put several buying signals into a role play. It was up to the new associates, both those doing the role play as well as those in the audience to point out the signals as part of the exercise. Likewise, have you identified the “pain point” in the prospect. The old saying of selling a refrigerator to an Eskimo went out 60 years ago. It’s better to find out if they have an issue and identifying a tool in your toolbox to solve their issue. The difficult part is clarifying their intentions. Many of us seem to be built to avoid conflict, especially people that are amiable in nature. To assist in bringing their thoughts or intentions to the surface there are multiple techniques. Some use an up-front contract. Meaning, you discuss ahead of time that if X happens, the next step is Y and you ask for their approval of that up-front. Another method is the trial close. You’re not closing on the final objective, but instead you’re testing the waters along the way. For instance, ask the prospect if they can see the benefit of X happening. Either way, if you can’t solve their issue, it’s better to refer them to a resource that can solve their issue.
At the end of the day, we are not in the business of selling; we are in the business of solving. Remember – it’s always about them, not about us. Good luck and feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I’ll be glad to have a conversation if you think you may benefit from it.