Agile Placements

Photo Credit: acsprugby via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: acsprugby via Compfight cc

Working with technical placement professionals, they like to approach the selling process by looking at what people they have available and trying to find slots for them. The incentive to place candidates is large and can be a handsome sum. In Stephen R Covey’s landmark book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, his fifth habit is “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” As we try to place our recruits we should keep this in mind.

Understand to build Trust

A few years ago I was managing a team of developers, a few Java, Perl, and PHP developers. One technical sales representative called me up, “Tom I have the perfect person for your team, we have a .Net developer who is looking for work and he is great.” This guy had no understanding of my team and what I needed, he didn’t understand. This happened repeatedly to me, I had another individual call and tell me I should hire their DBA, I don’t handle DBAs! A little understanding goes a long way. Taking time to listen first can build trust. Building trust is the first part of making a sale.

Create a backlog

Drawing on my years as working as a Scrum Master, the agile process used in Scrum is quite helpful. The first part is identifying what the produce owner wants by creating a product backlog. The team has to listen to what the business wants. Sales professionals can learn from this process. The development team does not say, “hey, I would like to build a new login page.” The product owner, who represents the business, identifies the needs.

How can you help

I know you sales representatives are saying, “when do I get to talk.” The next part of Scrum is deciding what you can work on due to the constraints of time and resources. This is where you can propose candidates that fit the business need. If you aren’t willing to be collaborative partners you won’t become a trusted resource. Focus more on your customer’s needs and less on your monthly sales goal. It is about them, not you.

Servant leadership

The leader of a Scrum team is called a Scrum master. Similar to a project manager they are tasked with keeping things moving and meeting deadlines. Scrum masters are taught to be servant leaders more as opposed to giving orders. The term “servant leadership” is used to explain how they help remove obstacles that slow the teams progress. As a sales representative, you can learn how service can build trust and earn more business. By building trust and relationships, you can assemble good customers and raving fans.


In the Scrum process, there are many points of feedback to reveal issues immediately. Every day the team meets for a short status meeting called the Daily Stand-up. The meeting is meant to be short under fifteen minutes and help everyone to quickly know where everyone is at. The premise is for everyone to share what they worked on yesterday, what they plan to work on today, and if they have any roadblocks. How often do you check in with your clients? Do you also talk with you candidates you have placed?
At the end of each sprint, we have what is called a sprint retrospective. The team comes in to work through what went well, what went wrong, and what needs to change. The idea is to keep the team improving each sprint to work together better and to become more productive. Checking in with your customers at regular intervals can help you get ahead of the situations that might come up.

Responding to feedback

Abbie is a sales representative for a technical staffing agency and she checks in with her placements weekly. She also keeps close tabs on the customers as well. One of her placements alerted her about a potential issue with competing firms placement.  Abbie spoke to the customer about this and had potential candidates that fit the customers needs. Do you have some potential business that you are missing out on? Embrace the customers feedback and it will help you improve your service.

Are you checking in with your clients?

Are you checking in with your candidates?

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