Don’t let the term confuse you; “assignment selling” has nothing to do with convincing a prospect they need a temporary worker for the week.
Well, almost nothing (you are in the staffing industry, after all).
Assignment selling is a powerful concept I learned from a book called They Ask, You Answer by Marcus Sheridan. And if you master it, you’ll dramatically improve the quality of your sales calls — by addressing prospects’ concerns and answering their questions before you ever pick up the phone.
Here’s a little bit more about the process and how you can use it to accelerate the sales cycle and increase close rates:
Assignment Selling: A practical definition
According to Sheridan, assignment selling is the process of using your educational content (e.g., blog posts, videos, eBooks) to resolve prospects’ major objections and answer their burning questions in advance of your sales call, so they are more prepared for the conversation.
In some cases, assignment selling literally involves giving a prospect a homework “assignment” — such as a video to watch or an article to read — before speaking with them. In a broader context, assignment selling is about providing prospects with high quality information to show that you:
- Empathize with their concerns
- Are honest and transparent
- Are an expert at what you do
- Are willing to provide answers to their tough questions
Sharing the right information in advance of any sales efforts has been shown to increase close rates. In fact, Marcus came up with the idea of assignment selling after examining the behaviors of two groups of prospects: one had a close rate around 25%, while the other had a close rate of about 80%. The difference? The low-close-rate group had only visited a small number of web pages prior to the sales call, while the high-close-rate prospects had visited 30+ pages.
The more prospects know about your firm, and the more they have engaged with your content, the more likely they are to buy. So, put all that amazing content you create to work in your sales process – building authority and trust, while proactively addressing objections.
Okay, but won’t assignment selling scare prospects away?
Understandably, account managers may be hesitant to “give too much away” in advance of a sales call. After all, providing detailed information about your workforce solutions, recruiting process or how your firm stacks up against competitors may make some prospects realize you’re not a good fit for their needs.
But if you’re not the right solution for an employer, isn’t it better to determine that early in the process — before you invest tons of time and energy trying to close them?
Interested in giving assignment selling a try?
Here’s how to get started:
- Brainstorm a list of your ideal customers’ biggest questions. Gather your sales, recruiting and service teams to determine the most common questions they hear from clients and prospects. These questions will serve as the foundation for creating your content arsenal.
- Create the right content. If your staffing firm has a blog, resource center, eBook library, newsletter or other educational content, you have a head start. Inventory your content library, to determine which top questions you’ve already provided answers to. Then, plan to create content that answers remaining questions.
- Make answers easy to find. Prospects should be able to quickly access the answers they want by conducting a Google search or skimming your website (if you don’t have them, consider adding search features and/or a comprehensive FAQ to your site). On the flip side, create a repository (e.g., a database or spreadsheet) account managers can use to easily find and share the content they need in advance of sales conversations.
- Share content both before and after sales calls. Use scenario-based group training to help account managers become adept at selecting and sharing content proactively and retroactively. Be sure to personalize content for each prospect’s needs, while being careful not to overwhelm them (one or two pieces of content is plenty).