[Podcast] Do my teams hate me? Metrics vs. Autonomy: Creating a Harmonious Business Development Process with Chris Hesson

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Show notes

Welcome to this episode of The Full Desk Experience Express, where host Kortney Harmon, joined by industry expert Chris Hesson, dives deep into the challenges and strategies of business development within staffing firms.

Chris offers sage advice on balancing business development strategies and structure with flexibility. He emphasizes the importance of aligning business processes with revenue generation and advises on how regular revisiting and adjustment of these processes can foster both team and business growth.

Stay tuned for an enriching session that promises not only to answer pressing leadership questions but also to equip you with practical approaches to enhance your firm’s performance amidst evolving market dynamics.


Follow Chris Hesson on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christopherhesson/
Follow Crelate on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/crelate/
Subscribe to our newsletter: https://www.crelate.com/full-desk-experience


Chris Hesson [00:00:00]:
I think ultimately everything needs to tie back to revenue. And the goal of having the metrics and having the goals is to achieve revenue, not to have the most number of contracts sent or the most number of new job orders. If it’s not leading to money, it’s not doing anything for you. So I think ratios becomes more important than actual numbers and volumes and how those ratios translate into revenue dollars, regardless of how you, how and when you recognize them. What are the actions and where those, where do those attribute to monies themselves? Something tangible that your recruiters are gonna be able to see.

Kortney Harmon [00:00:33]:
Hi, I’m Kortney Harmon, director of industry relations at Crelate. Welcome to FDE Express, a short, sweet format of the full desk experience, a Krill eight original podcast. We’ll be diving into specific topics to show you how you grow your firm within ten minutes or less. Each episode will cover quickly topics to give you inspiration and food for thought for your talent businesses do my teams hate me for failing to implement a structured bd or business development process? I’m the CEO of a staffing firm. While I have capable business development managers, I’ve taken a very hands off approach, allowing them to run their teams as they see fit. As a result, our business development efforts lack consistency and accountability across the organization. Simple processes like qualifying leads and managing the sales cycle are being handled differently by each team. This free, willing approach worked okay when we were smaller, but as we’ve grown, it’s become a major issue, especially for sales hires that are frustrated by the lack of structured process.

Kortney Harmon [00:01:47]:
Frankly, I’m going to be honest. Our revenue growth is stagnant, which has attributed to the lack of maybe standardized playbooks, strategic alignment, and further impact of our economy. At today’s current moment. However, when I try to implement a more, say, centralized control, I get pushback from my managers who feel I’m diminishing their autonomy. So do my teams hate me, or will my managers hate me more if I implement a more hands on approach to build a robust, scalable business development process for our entire organization, or instituting that level of top down control as an overstep that maybe will breed resentment across my team? I want to course correct, but I don’t want to be viewed as the distrusting ax hole boss. So what’s the right balance? Chris, I’m coming to you this time. I know this is your forte, so talk to me. Give me your insights on this question of do my teams hate me?

Chris Hesson [00:02:47]:
So when you’re a business owner or leader in a business, your business is your baby, this is something you have built. You have put your blood, sweat and tears you’ve put your effort into. And sometimes you need to give your children what they need, not what they want. And I think if we look at business development in particular, this right now is the most critical part and most pivotal element of your business. How are you going to continue to grow, survive and or thrive in this post COVID environment? So when you look at your teams, be concerned less on will they hate me and more concerned on will they thank me later when their check is bigger? Will they thank me later when your check is better, when you can grow your team, when they have additional mobility internally. So I think this comes down to what is your business need versus what does your team want right now? Do people love having boundaries and guidelines? No, they don’t. But do they need them? Sometimes? Absolutely. You’ll also find this, that small teams have small team problems, large teams have large team problems, and the solutions are not the same.

Chris Hesson [00:03:50]:
When it’s you and two other people in an office and you’re all working together, you don’t need the same types of controls in place that you do when you’ve got a team of 1015, 20 or even more so with business elements. Very easy and far too often in the recruiting side, I’ve seen it’s, hey, you’re just such a great recruiter, we’re going to move you to a role. Is there guidance? Do they know what they’re doing? Is there a way to do it? Is there a process? Something I’ve said a million times is if there’s not a correct way to do it, then everybody is doing it wrong. So if you look to be able to understand where you are succeeding and where you’re failing from the business development side, you have to have some standardization in place. There has to be a course from which you can correct as opposed to everybody going off and doing their own thing. I’ve seen many firms and in the past, the idea of you are the CEO of your own desk, you do it whatever and however you want to do it, that’s great, but that is not scalable. What you’ll find is you have one or two rainmakers or really powerful people that bring in a large majority of your revenue and the rest of your team is floundering. They don’t know what they’re doing, they don’t know where they are today, and they don’t know how to get where they need to be in the future.

Chris Hesson [00:04:58]:
So the process here is for you to put something in place. Add these guidelines twofold. One, you have the ability to now assess in a standardized format what is working and what isn’t. And two, you have some benchmarks to determine. Is it a lack of willingness by someone on your team to do the right things or is it a lack of knowledge? Do they need additional help and training and support to push them along? So having these guidelines, they might not like it in the beginning, they probably won’t. But will they thank you later when they achieve the success they’re looking for professionally and financially? Absolutely. So when you look at the type of guidelines that come in, I think it’s working with the management team getting input and buy in, especially if your team is smaller. Now, if you are managing a staffing firm with 100 people, you can’t take that approach.

Chris Hesson [00:05:47]:
It’s not possible. But understanding the why will really go a long way towards your team being motivated. So coming down and putting arbitrary metrics, you’re now tracking without a clear understanding of what’s the purpose here. That absolutely, absolutely is going to breed resentment and your team won’t be happy. But if you can come in and hey, here’s the goals we’re looking to hit, here’s why we think they’re important. Here’s what we’re going to do with that information. Here’s why we want you to start tracking it. Because our goal is we want you to make more money next year.

Chris Hesson [00:06:16]:
I want you to be able to bring in five additional deals, five additional placements. I want you to hit this revenue goal, which means if we can do that, you’re going to make x amount more in your paycheck. When you can bring it down to where they are going to have a better quality of life, I think you’re going to get the buy in. So your approach on this becomes incredibly important with how they respond, there’s always going to be grumbling and we know recruiters are highly resistant to change. But having that idea of a standard process in place, having a concept on this is how we’re going to approach business development. It may change in the future, but this is how we’re going to work with it. This enables your team to understand what’s working, what’s not, and also helps you scale more once you do develop that process. And hey, this is our approach to BD.

Chris Hesson [00:07:04]:
This is how we go in and either bring in new clients or acquire new roles to work on. Now you have a set plan that a new hire can follow. So when you do increase and grow your team. You’re not throwing somebody else into the wolves. They have a process. They have that pathway to success. It now comes to execution. Now having a process, know that it’s going to change.

Chris Hesson [00:07:26]:
Markets shift. Things that worked yesterday won’t always work tomorrow, but this gives you the ability to now have data and insights on what’s working. Hey, maybe our email responses are down this month. Let’s take a look. Why maybe do we want to do some a b testing on that marketing blast we sent out? Are we getting a better response with this messaging versus that messaging? Maybe we find that, you know how we’re having conversations when we talk about rates or agreements on the perm placement side? We’re not getting the number of signed contracts back. Well, are we not qualifying them ahead of time or do we need to look at how we’re approaching negotiation? Are we giving too much away? So coming through and having the process, that is going to be key. Your approach, however, will determine the success and how your team takes it. If you have a strong, solid team, they just need that direction.

Chris Hesson [00:08:15]:
You don’t want to come through and just force things down their throat. They’re part of the reason you’re where you are today, through the good and the bad. And if this is the team that you see needing to be by your side in the future, give them that seat at the table. Help them understand the why and the benefit to them, just like you would with your clients. Put on that sales hat you are now selling internally to your team on what is the benefit? With them operating in a certain way, it might be a shift in the type of work they’re doing. It might be more work in some cases, but the ultimate goal is getting them to a spot where they are generating more revenue. You are generating more revenue and everybody’s making more money.

Kortney Harmon [00:08:54]:
Random question. So you talk about this process, you talk about assessing it. This isn’t a one and done thing. And we’ve seen that very frequently with offices that we’ve worked with. How often should this be something that an organization evaluates? Because we have listeners right now that are saying, I’ve already done that, it’s already there, but they’ve added five new pieces of tech. The industry has changed. The markets have shifted. How often should an organization revisit these processes? And what does that cadence look like?

Chris Hesson [00:09:24]:
I think some of it will depend on the size of your team. If you’re looking at a larger organization where you guys are 50 plus recruiters and salespeople, maybe it’s something you’re to look at on a quarterly basis. If you’re a bit smaller, you’re a little more tight knit. Maybe it’s something you start off looking at monthly, have a regular cadence to evaluate. But the metrics and the success rates, I think those are things that need to be public. I think first off, a good recruiter is highly competitive. Them knowing that, oh, this other recruiter made five placements, I don’t view that as a busybody thing. Use that as well.

Chris Hesson [00:09:55]:
You better make six this month. A good recruiter wants to be in first place. And if you have a team that they’re okay being last place. Very telling on the type of team you have and where you may need to look at some up leveling, but having these bad dashboards and metrics and having conversations and talking about it. So if you have a weekly meeting where you do updates either in projects or searches, let them know you’re paying attention to these metrics. Highlight and recognize success in the beginning, I think that’s big. When you’re looking at instituting new process, the sticks are much less productive than I think the carrots and a kudos and an atta boy and a call out to somebody who’s achieving success can go a very, very long way. I always think it’s funny how much people will do.

Chris Hesson [00:10:40]:
Also for a $25 Amazon gift card. Yeah, I mean, even if once a week you’re going, hey, whoever, I’m going to pick a random metric and whoever achieves the most gets dollar 25 Amazon gift card, it’s a month. That’s nothing from a business perspective. And you’re now giving your team motivation to do the things that are then going to earn them more money as well.

Kortney Harmon [00:11:00]:
I love that. Anything that you would recommend on the reporting side, obviously, you know, scalability comes down to metrics. We don’t want the doing things for doing things sake that KPI hamster wheel that we kind of us as leaders get caught up on in this industry. Any word of advice as they’re looking into what this new process and things look like without being the dictator of metrics?

Chris Hesson [00:11:27]:
I think ultimately everything needs to tie back to revenue. And the goal of having the metrics and having the goals is to achieve revenue. Not to have the most number of contracts sent or the most number of new job orders. If it’s not leading to money, it’s not doing anything for you. So I think ratios becomes more important than actual numbers and volumes and how those ratios translate into revenue dollars. Regardless of how and when you recognize them, what are the actions and where do those attribute to monies themselves? Something tangible that your recruiters are going to be able to see. So if you’re looking at implementing something full scale, a lot of it in the beginning might be an assessment where let’s look at some of the data we do have, and it might not be clean and might be messy and maybe we’re going to have to stumble around it a little bit. But work with your team so they understand why you’re tracking different things, what your goals are, where you’re looking to move the ball forward.

Chris Hesson [00:12:22]:
If you start on the revenue side, I always start to walk backwards from there. So if this is specifically bd metrics for your sales team dollars, then is going to be big. Well, the next thing I want to look at is what’s the ratio of jobs worked to jobs that you actually made a placement on? Even if you are fully retained doing the executive search, direct placement, you know, high end, sea level roles, you do not have a 100% fill rate. Nobody does. Jobs will always fall off for one reason or another. So the question is, what if you had all that time back on the things that didn’t generate you revenue? Well, you could either take six months vacation or you could double your money. So look at what searches are we bringing in, what are we actually closing and then starting to diagnose the ones we did not close? Why was there a challenge on the recruiting side? It’s very possible, and I’m sure you’ve run into that where your clients expectations for salary don’t align with what exists in the market. You’re a recruiting firm.

Chris Hesson [00:13:20]:
You don’t manufacture your candidates. You only have what’s out there in the market. Or is there maybe a mismatch where you guys just were sourcing the wrong area? The right candidates were there and you didn’t find them. So what are the jobs that are brought in? What are the jobs that result in a placement and the ones that did not bring you revenue? What could or should have been done differently? Is it a recruiting problem or is it this was the wrong job to work on. It wasn’t qualified correctly, it wasn’t priced correctly, then starts to work backwards from there. Let’s look at the jobs we brought in. Is that volume enough? Are we bringing in the right types of jobs? Where are these jobs coming from? Something I always recommend doing, at least with each person on your team from a sales side, is having them sit down and create a yearly plan. Where is their revenue going to come from next year.

Chris Hesson [00:14:06]:
Now, we all know you’re not going to get 100% of your existing clients coming back for the same amount next year. It would be fantastic. There’s going to be shifts. Some will be up, some will be down. Look, based on trends, where do I think those dollars will come from? Hey, 40% of my revenue next year is going to come from existing clients this year. Here’s the clients, here’s the conversations I’ve had. High level here’s what we’re targeting. Here’s the percentage coming from new business.

Chris Hesson [00:14:29]:
Here’s coming from former clients that we haven’t worked with in maybe more than a year. But plan that out and at least have that starting point. You can always adjust the plan as things are or are not working, but not having a plan means you are hoping to get lucky. You will not build a sustainable business based on luck.

Kortney Harmon [00:14:48]:
I love it. Chris, as always, I appreciate your insights. This was amazing. I think this was a great answer to our listener and hope that provided some insight.

Chris Hesson [00:14:57]:

Kortney Harmon [00:14:58]:
Thanks for joining us.

Chris Hesson [00:14:59]:
Thank you.

Kortney Harmon [00:15:01]:
That’s all for today’s episode of FDE Express. I’m Kortney Harmon with Creole Eight. If you have any questions or topics you’d like for us to cover in future episodes, please feel free to submit them to fulldeskrlate.com or ask us live next session. And don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast wherever you listen, and sign up for our monthly events to keep learning and growing your business. Thanks for tuning in to FDE Express, a short and sweet format of the full desk experience. We’ll see you next time.

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