Given the times we live in, the above heading could be something that makes people feel a little uncomfortable. But it’s a statement that I think is more important than ever.
One of my pet hates, at previous businesses I worked in, was the “let’s sell whatever we can to people, even if we can’t do it” mentality. It often happens when a manager is under pressure to hit their monthly sales target and it becomes a case of ditching plans, strategies, ethics, etc., and just selling to hit the numbers so the manager above them doesn’t come down on their head like a ton of bricks.
The problem with this approach is that, ultimately, it comes back to bite you. If you take an ‘everything to everyone’ approach, eventually you’ll find yourself in the position of providing very little value to anyone. One of the key lessons I’ve learnt in running my own business is that finding your speciality, your niche, makes a huge difference, even more so in the recruitment/project services space.
Don’t promise the world and deliver an atlas
The key to all of this is to build strong relationships. If your clients can trust you and see you as an expert, you go a long way to adding value and winning/retaining business. It’s a mantra for our team at PPS: We won’t take on a project that we can’t deliver. We don’t want to try and learn on the run; invariably this will leave you spending more resources than you’d budgeted for and making mistakes that impact your clients along the way.
Relationships are core to our business, specialising in the areas we do means that our clients see us not only as a partner, but also as a source of information in those speciality areas.
So, instead of trying to be a jack-of-all-trades, here are the three core principles I believe can lead you on the right path to being a stronger, trusted partner to your clients.
Find your niche
A former manager, and now mentor, of mine told me early on in my career, when I was under that ‘hit your number this month’ pressure, that I should ignore the calls to do every deal I could. Instead, I should concentrate on finding my niche.
Being in telecommunications recruitment, I found that idea daunting at first. But as I built my knowledge and understanding of the design space, I realised that was my core strength…and still is today. It was and still is the cornerstone of the PPS business and has allowed me to expand out from there.
Hire experts to cover your weaknesses
To expand, I didn’t want PPS to be based solely on my area of expertise. So I brought in partners, and will continue to do so (watch this space!), that have a different skill set to my own. It’s a strong business principle: The best leaders I see are the ones that surround themselves with people who have skills that they don’t, that fill the blind spots they have.
At PPS, this approach is allowing our business to expand into areas such as construction, civil engineering, sales and marketing, and IT. By bringing in experts in those fields we’re able to offer services that suit their core competencies, thereby growing the value PPS can offer.
If it isn’t your core, outsource it
The third rule is: If it isn’t your core skill, then find someone whose it is. Think about the example of an internal recruiter: Often they’re recruiting multiple roles across multiple disciplines. That means they’re often overwhelmed and under resourced. Why not work with someone who specialises in that instead? It means you have to think in terms of overall value rather than upfront costs, but once you get your head around it, I promise it will revolutionise your business.
For example, I do that in a number of areas internally in my business, from IT to our marketing efforts.
How about your approach? Do you agree or have a different set of rules? Keen to hear what you think; DM me here or email me at email@example.com.