Building relationships and growing your business with MSP partners depends on how well you listen to their buying signs. As the director of supplier management, the most frequent question I received from staffing companies was the secret to growing their business and getting into more accounts. Of course, I can’t speak for all organizations, but I think the biggest rule for standing out in a long line of competition is implementing a process of listening.

Internal Look

Appreciating the business you currently have is a great way to grow! One of our suppliers had a 50% response rate to the requisitions they were receiving and wanted to know how they could get more business. Imagine how much their business would grow if they were to respond to 80%. Before you can ask for more business, you must be successful with the business you have.

Take a look at each of your accounts, broken out by MSP customer, and review your internal metrics. Are you doing your best? Can you do more? Where are you excelling? Once you have your statistics, evaluate where the issues lie. If you aren’t working the requisitions, then the issue lies within your recruiting team. If you are working the requisitions but not getting placements, then it may be a quality issue.

One of our successful suppliers would schedule quarterly business reviews to discuss all of their accounts. This sales executive knew to come to the meeting prepared with a review of how they did and where they thought they could improve. They were honest with the challenges they were having and asked for advice. And then they listened. They asked for more business in those areas where they were doing well. Where they were failing, they asked for more time to improve with the suggestions I had provided. If you can build a better engine, then ask for time to do so. If you can’t, then respectfully decline the business. It’s vital to focus on the areas where you can contribute and talk about how you can help.

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External Look

Knowing your business is important, but knowing your MSP’s business is critical. If there are industries where you excel, bring this to the attention of your MSP partner and request more clients in those areas. If you have done well in a particular geography, suggest you grow with their clients in those locations.

We had several suppliers who had customers in the San Francisco area, so fitting them to our clients in SF was an easy win because they already had a candidate pool we could tap into. Maybe there is a skill category where you have a large group of resources already sourced and ready to work, or perhaps you have a program set up to train on specific skillsets; suggest these as opportunities for expansion. Again, listening to your MSP’s needs gives you the opportunity to pivot on your approach and find solutions. Many times on client spotlight calls, program teams will share where they are struggling to fill requisitions, so if you are listening closely and know how to ease the stress coming from a client, you will be first of mind to help and top of mind for other clients needing similar support.

Listen, Build, Grow, Repeat

So what’s the secret to growing with MSPs? It starts with listening to their needs.  Once you know their needs and you know if your business can help, you can grow or you have the opportunity to rebuild the areas that need improvement. Grow internally in the programs you have first, then look to grow externally to new programs — and repeat for each MSP where you have a partnership.

The other secret is to be specific in your requests. When suppliers came with their hands out asking for business but didn’t know where they wanted it, our team was so busy putting out fires, we didn’t have time to figure it out for them. In those situations, the supplier was placed on a general waitlist. But when suppliers did their homework and came with a plan on where they wanted to grow, it took all the guesswork out of where we could use their support, and we were able to place them at the front of the right customers’ line — which is where you want to be too.

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