I've never been one who relishes being where I'm not wanted. In fact, quite the opposite. When I was dating my wife, I remember telling her early on in our courtship that if she ever didn't want me around all she had to do was say the word and I'd be gone. Sure I liked her, a lot, but the last thing I wanted to do was push myself on someone, to be where I wasn't wanted. Fortunately for me (and her, I might add!), that day never came.

I suspect a lot of people are like that, probably even a lot of people in professions, like sales or staffing, where letting that feeling get the best of us can be a detriment.

The thing is, whether you're in sales, management, or on the front lines of client service, the staffing industry is filled with instances of having to find ways to place ourselves where we're not necessarily welcome or wanted in order to have any modicum of success.

Consider these two (sadly) very real examples from our company's history. Some of you will be aghast, just aghast that people in our employ could have made these kinds of mistakes, but others will recognize the fact that the busy day-to-day life of staffing combined with our natural human desire to only be where we are wanted can, if we're not vigilant, cause these kinds of issues to creep up and negatively affect our business.

Exhibit A:

A top client prospect who uses staffing but isn't busy right now makes it abundantly clear to our BDM (Business Development Manager) that it's totally fine to just drop by every once in a while, or even just to drop an email once a quarter or so and forgo the trip altogether. In fact, she uses the example of a competitor agency that "bugs the hell out of her" as a template of what NOT to do when trying to earn her business. Don't worry, she'll let US know when she needs something.

The BDM, not wanting to be where she's not wanted, happily obliges and moves on to more welcoming turf. In a few months, however, we are shocked when we start getting word that this client prospect is indeed using temps again, only not through us. Who could have possibly earned this company's business? Why, that HR manager TOLD US she doesn't like to be "bothered!"

Imagine our surprise and frustration when we found out that the staffing company that earned their business was the very company that was "bugging the hell" out of them!

Sure, we had succeeded in not bothering the HR manager, and she probably didn't have any negative thoughts about us at all, but we didn't have their business either.

Exhibit B:

We had a good, steady relationship with client XYZ, and a couple dozen temps to prove it. The HR Manager was friendly to us and seemed to like us, but he was a standoffish type of guy who didn't like to be bothered. We had an understanding - he would let us know when they needed temps and we would send them the next day. Easy peasy. If something was wrong, he'd let us know, but otherwise, no news was good news. The office staff never really made inroads with the individual supervisors because client XYZ wasn't really a place that seemed very accessible and besides, our relationship with the HR Manager seemed solid enough.

Over the course of a few weeks the orders, and consequently our headcount, started to decline. Pretty soon, we found ourselves getting zero new orders there. There was no news, but surely it wasn't good news.

But but but ... the HR Manager TOLD us no news WAS good news!

Except, while we were happily filling fewer and fewer of their orders each week (like a boiling pot, we didn't even notice until it was too late) and leaving them alone in our cozy "agreement," another agency was in their face wowing them with all the ways they could "streamline their hiring process", "decrease turnover", and, wouldn't you know it, make the HR Manager's job exponentially easier by placing an on-site coordinator at the client facility.

We ended up losing the client (and winning them back later, but that's another story). Turns out, there had been some customer service issues here and there, but we didn't know it because we weren't regularly in front of our client, face to face, getting their feedback and assessing their needs.

We didn't want to bother them, except if we HAD bothered them a little more we might have realized that an on-site manager would have been a great fit. We might have built a more solid and broad foundation of client loyalty by getting to know others in the organization besides the individual giving us the job orders.  

There's a balance to this, of course. Making oneself a pest is one thing. Nobody wants to have the cops called on them or be removed from the premises by security. We also can't always go walking willy-nilly down the production floors of our clients without permission.

But, just like human nature is to not be where we aren't wanted, human nature also wants to not be bothered. How many of us would tell someone wanting to sell or service us ANYTHING to not call us, that we'll call them if we need them? And yet, if we find ourselves in need of that service the first person we contact is often the one right in front of us.

After all, they really must want our business.

In staffing, as in pretty much anything else involving sales or client service, finding ways to get out of our comfort zone and in front of our clients and prospects is one of the most uncomfortable, yet rewarding, things we can do.