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Know thy Client!

Photo Credit: mdennes via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: mdennes via Compfight cc

 The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.

Peter Drucker
Anytime you sell something it is important to understand your client or customer. In the technical staffing sector, we need to grasp the client company so we can see all the opportunities that exist. In addition, it is crucial to know your contact at the company and realize their position and influence. I teach people to understand first, then make the pitch.

 Company

 When I first was getting ready for job interviews I was told to do my homework. If you didn’t know what the company did you should not be interviewing with them. I made this mistake one time and I was literally laughed at. “You don’t have any idea what we do kid!” and that was the end of that interview.
As professionals, we need to take some time and do our homework. When we look at the company website we should quickly recognize what they do. From there we should begin to build questions we can answer on the call. Asking the right questions can lead to placement opportunities.

 Technologies used

 The technologies that the company uses are important points that many recruiters often overlook. I distinctly remember working with a sales professional who kept track of this information and would never propose candidates that did not have the key skills we were looking for. We would use him repeatedly.
Why is this important? Hiring managers don’t want to screen through unqualified candidates. You are wasting their time and chances are they will find a professional who can do this. So as you talk to people at the company note that they use Java or .Net. Strive to recognize the key JavaScript frameworks and which of your candidates use them. It will pay dividends for them and you!

Environment

I have worked in many different environments over my fifteen plus years in Information Technology. Each company is a little bit different. Some are slow to change where others shift priorities multiple times a day. As you talk to your customers you should get an idea where the company falls. Keep this in mind when you present candidates.
One place I worked was quite dynamic and had shifting priorities. A contract worker came into this environment and was completely flustered. The staffing comapny had not prepared them for the environment or asked them if this was a good fit. They quickly had to remove the individual and it left a bad taste in our mouth. Do you think we wanted to use them again?

Methodologies

As companies experiment and embrace new development methodologies it can be helpful to understand what the team is using and how they structure their teams. Candidates who have experience mainly in waterfall development might have issues jumping into a Scrum team or use Kanban.

Contact

The contact you have at the company is another important piece to the puzzle. We need to know three main parts about them to help us navigate the waters.

Position/Responsibilities

For starters, we want to know what their position is in the company. Titles can be misleading so it helps to get an idea of who they report to and the corporate structure. What responsibilities do they have? How big of a team do they have and who is on that team? As you think about proposing candidates this information will be helpful. Are they responsible for hiring other positions too?

Technical Expertise

It is no surprise that technical people can get mired in the details. For instance, if they were a developer before they moved into management or a team lead position this may color the questions they ask. Having a basic technical knowledge of the overall software development lifecycle can make you a collaborative resource that can bring in the right candidates. A little knowledge will earn you some influence with them.

Influence

Finding the decision maker is key to selling to the right people. We don’t want to waste our time with people we can’t sell to. As we mentioned earlier about position and titles can be deceiving.  As you talk with different people in the organization you should start to see who makes the decision and has an influence on hiring employees and contract candidates.

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