Managing Sales and Recruiting

  By Michael Neidle  |    Monday June 14, 2021

Category: Expert Advice, Recruiting


A common problem in staffing is balancing sales and recruiting. This is more of a problem in temp (or contracting), instead of a direct hire firm where most people operate a full desk and the same person is handling both functions. So what are the difficulties that arise in balancing these two functions? Is it the resources that the sales team requires to fill the job orders they generate? 

There are two basic models in temp. One where the sales rep has a pool of recruiters (sometimes known as a bullpen) who have the opportunity to fill an open JO and each person submits their candidate for the job, usually thru the sales rep, or sometimes directly to the client. Here there is usually a recruiting manager charged with the proper allocation of recruiting resources.  

The other model is for a sales rep to manage his own recruiters, with his own sales reps who should from one to several recruiter’s on his team then depending on his needs. This is often implemented in a hierarchical system, called a pod or a team, with a project manager (PM) at the top, business developers signing up new clients (BD), client relationship managers (CRM) tending to the needs of existing clients and recruiter sourcing candidates and filling JO’s. Larger clients often use the latter model. The project manager may also function as the BD and CRM. Direct hire positions may be part of the pod or handled by full desk specialists, but the critical job of the BD may suffer due to the PM having to wear too many hats. One of the benefits of this approach is that the contribution of a pod is easy to measure (net contribution, which is margin, less the compensation cost of the team). As the PM’s commission is measured by their contribution, not margin, they should not have more recruiters or other people then they need, which would reduce their commission. There, of course, are other models, but these are two of the most prevalent.

In an arrangement using a recruiting pool, there still should be a recruiting manager who does not let everyone run toward the easiest to fill positions as the harder to fill JO’s goes wanting. There should at be recruiters who specialize in filling certain types of JO’s and other with different skill set and levels of experience. This is especially important in a general staffing firm who may work in multiple staffing niches from IT to LI and anything that comes thru the door. As a sidebar, broad based general staffing companies tend to have a lower market value than those who specialize.

To make the job of everyone transparent, metrics or (key performance indicators (KPI’s) are tracked for every person be they in a recruiting pool, or in a pod. This can be converted from just KPI’s to a profitability algorithm to determine any person’s productivity as well as efficiency in generating margin $ for the company and which their compensation can be set. Productivity measures for things like the number of calls (conversation) a person makes/week and the JO’s and candidates they generate (usually referenced to a target value) and trended over time with efficiency measures, such as fill ratio, duration of assignment, placements/send outs, etc. and financial performance indicators (FPI), such as bill and margin rate. When KPI and FPI are integrated they can generate profitability algorithms to optimize the performance of each person and reward them accordingly, zeroing in on the areas of weakness and working to improve them. For those who are given enough time to improve their performance but are not cut for their job, it provides management with documentation to make personnel changes. In addition, this can be used to maximize the contribution and profit of the company; even creating a strategic and tactical game plan, with the help of ancillary staffing modules.   

A company in a dynamic market should match their culture with people who are curious, inventive and have the freedom to explore and be open to change. Companies in a static market should hire people who match their culture of following the rules and not possibly sacrificing the company’s sacred cash cow(s) as long as their herd remains healthy.

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