By Janet DeGeorge
The most successful newspapers have recruitment teams. The most important elements of the team are of course, the People. Even the smallest of newspapers should have a trained recruitment rep that knows how to upsell each customer to drive results, upsell to the internet, and understand how to use your market demographics. For larger newspapers, the complete Recruitment Team will drive success. From Sacramento, CA., to Madison, Wisconsin, Davenport to Escondido, their recruitment teams are making the difference. If you are still having struggles with recruitment revenue, perhaps you need to completely change how you do business in your recruitment area.
In this article we will look at some of the key positions on a recruitment team, as well as the nasty subject of account management. If you need ideas or information beyond this article for a recruitment team, please email me at email@example.com.
Should you or should you not have a manager for recruitment? This should be based solely on the percent of revenue it brings in. A manager drives the business, gets job fairs and special sections going, gets involved in associations, makes four legged calls with reps, holds reps accountable, coaches, solves problems, clears pathways for faster sales, finds new revenue sources and is fully accountable for that category's success. If recruitment is 30% or more of your classified revenue (or was 30% or more prior to 2001), a recruitment manager might be the missing link. A good Recruitment Manages does not always have to have Recruitment experience. Leadership skills, experience in promotion, marketing, negotiations and sales in general is key. The rest can be trained. Some of the best recruitment managers I know came from a completely different industry and took what they knew to drive the business.
Without an artist on the team you are simply not going to be as successful as you would with one. After training over 400 sales reps this year, the number one reason they say they do not sell display is "the process" takes too long. It is human nature for a group of artist in production to bury the copy heavy, mostly black and white employment display ads, way under the pile of complicated and colorful auto and real estate ads. The right artist on your recruitment team will drive revenue, give you faster turnaround on displays, get logos ready in minutes, train your reps on design, as well as design flyers, special sections, banners, editorial content, create visually stunning booths at job fairs, posters, filler space, promotions, testimonials etc. etc. etc.
The type of person who belongs on a recruitment team is not your typical newspaper production assembly line artist or composer. The right person, of course, must have all the best technical skills, but they must also enjoy working with sales reps and customers. It will be up to the artist to pick up the Sunday classifieds first thing Monday morning, review all potential liner ads, and start designing display specs for the reps to use to upsell that ad next time around. They should bring you ideas for special sections, as well as work directly with customers on design. If you would like a copy of a job description for such an artist, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
RECRUITMENT AGENCY SPECIALIST
Whether one or two people handle the agencies or each rep handles a few each, it is imperative that they understand this business. You can start by having your agency reps read RX for Recruitment Agencies (www.Naa.org $50.00 for members). Understanding relationship building is a start and there are many books to read on this subject available. Agencies need one rep with direct email addresses, direct lines for agencies (800 numbers are a lot cheaper than they use to be) 24/7 ad placement through interent (check out the NAA/AdStar partnership at www. BonafideClassified.com for the best in internet ad placement), and reps that know how to clear pathways (from credit problems to missed deadlines) for their advertising.
EMPLOYMENT TRANSIENT GROUP
One of the biggest losses of revenue I see is having your "voluntary" group take private party ads along with employment ads. Those reps are "squeeze it into three line reps" who are there to complete transaction as quickly as possible. This is not the way to build recruitment. A major gain you can make for recruitment is selling more to people coming to you, as well as keeping in touch with them on a monthly basis. Not all employers needs account reps or contracts, but all ads should be sold the right way the first time. This takes training, a targeted commission plan for upsells, good frequency rates, minimum linage standards, and an understanding that employment ads are placed for results, not to save money. Make sure commission plans compliment each other and that there are standards and procedures to move potential transient ads on to contract.
MAJOR ACCOUNT REPS
Just like your retail side, employment has major accounts as well that need special handling. Usually your top 25 employers with the biggest employee base (regardless if they go through an agency) should have an outside sales rep. Hospitals and government offices (usually government is your biggest employer), in particular should have assigned outside reps that will keep on top of all the hiring.
CONTRACT REPS: By Category, Territory, Alpha Sort or Hodge Podge?
For the vast number of accounts, you must have a system to distribute accounts, as well as an understanding, a line drawn when a desk is "FULL" signaling the need to hire another rep. It is very disconcerting to train at companies and see employment reps with 500 plus accounts. How many accounts are out there? Well, pick up the yellow pages for all the areas your circulation services. EVERY COMPANY in there is a potential employment account. They all need to hire! Whether they use your paper or something else depends on the level of service and commitment to that customer.
Account Management for recruitment is poorly handled at most newspapers. And getting it in shape is no easy task. Let's look at some of the pros and cons of each method.
By Category (i.e. Healthcare, Office Workers, Trades, etc.)
Pro: Gives a rep the ability to specialize in one or two areas and become deeply involved in that industry, attend functions, keep up with changes. Con: Special sections for that category put too much burden on one person and are rarely successful. Also, if that industry has a downtown, so does the rep with no alternatives to increase revenue. Also, a rep with poor skills or no motivation to grow that area can completely disintegrate a category.
Pro: Usually divided up by city or zip code, clearly defines who gets what. When a special section arises, reps have an array of different accounts to call on. Clear accountability with defined lines. Con: Such a huge amount of businesses in any one area or zip code, almost overwhelming for any rep. Very difficult to balance account distribution.
Pro: Cleanly works with your internal systems. Reps know exactly whom each account should be assigned. Con: Seems to promote lots of infighting among reps and with that, lots of "miss spelling of names of accounts". Difficult, if not impossible to hold reps accountable with this method.
Pros: What most newspapers seem to have. A desk is developed and grandfathered to the next rep that builds upon it with incoming calls. Customers hate being changed to a new rep when a system changes, so many newspaper just keep this going. Con: No accountability for account list, no way to assign new accounts, reps become "ad takers" instead of aggressive reps seeking new business for their area of responsibility.
SO WHAT IS THE ANSWER?
Maybe it is a combination of all the above. If I were starting a new classified recruitment team from scratch, I would have reps that all have at least one or two agencies that they cater two. Unless you are a large company and have more than four agency reps, no one person could do it all and do it aggressively. Spread over several reps who are well trained in agency selling, gets my vote. Training is key.
I would also have a Major Account Rep, basically an outside sales reps that handle the big accounts in person as well as by phone and email. They should be skilled in presentation as well as wining and dining, promotion, marketing, etc. Just as skilled at the majors or national rep in your retail department. Many times they will be making presentations even when that account goes through an agency. (Always remember to invite the agency rep along.)
For Major Accounts the categories I would choose would be: Hospitals, Government (Local, state and National including military), top 10-25 Employers in your circulation area. Perhaps some bigger Temp services, but these can be handled from inside reps just as well.
If you are a bigger market, or have some unique employee base (like Silicon Valley or if you have a huge supply of Medical specialists) you should also have a "national" rep that is dedicated to bringing in new business. This takes a highly skilled rep that spends time "selling your market" to companies and agencies out of your circulation area, and usually out of state for the many companies that hire nationally for particular job positions.
For the sheer majority of accounts, I feel territories might be the way I would do it. This method keeps accountability focused, but gives each rep a wider range and variety of accounts so that they can sell into just about any special section. The key here would be to carefully make up each territory so all reps have an abundance, but not an overwhelming amount of accounts to handle.
Anyone can sell recruitment advertising, but it takes a recruitment team to drive sales and ensure your success.