Marginal Gains is a common enough phrase. It’s used in many walks of life, many industries and in many different contexts. Therefore, its meaning is – to a degree – diluted.

The concept of marginal gains is reasonably new – Dave Brailsford introduced it at Team Sky back in 2010. At that time, no British cyclist had ever won the Tour de France and Brailsford faced a massive task in trying to change that.

He started with all the obvious areas – shaving weight from the bikes (and the riders!), improving diet and nutrition, changing exercise regimes. However, they also looked beyond the edge of the box. They looked at all the parts of the process, all the contributing factors.

Some of the extremes may seem a little far-fetched – shipping mattresses and pillows around the stages, hiring private cleaners for hotel rooms (even a small amount of dust in the air was thought to have a slightly detrimental effect on recovery rates overnight) – but they were aiming to provide as many areas of improvement as possible, for as many riders as possible.

After all, as much as the individual honour of winning the Tour de France, it takes the whole team to get their rider to the front.

They were able to measure the output of change – they had a goal in mind, and could see the effect of each improvement.

The Value of Marginal Gains in Your Recruitment Business

Sales leaders strive to help individual contributors to be more effective. We set KPI’s around the number of calls made, the number of leads generated and values of deals at each stage of the sales pipeline. We try to encourage and cajole our sales teams to increase those numbers.

But how do we provide blanket improvement? How do we help every individual in the business to be even 1% more efficient? What would those cumulative efficiencies add up to? In our industry, the opportunities to increase efficiency are myriad, but can be distilled into a few simple metrics:

  • Increase the number of open roles available to our teams
  • Maximise the margins that we are working for
  • Increase the likelihood that we will fill a role
  • Reduce the effort and time taken to make a placement

Now, at first glance, this list might seem basic good practice, teaching granny to suck eggs. However, as we look closer at the processes involved in each step and the interdependencies of each stage, we start to realise that moving the dial on any one of these affects each of the others.

Clients are more likely to open roles to us if we are fast and efficient in sending relevant CVs to them. Clients are more likely to pay slightly more if they are confident that we will be able to fill their open roles, and that the candidates we send them will be of the highest quality.

Adopting a Marginal Gain Mindset

The answer to ‘what does good look like’ is already within our CRM. We have people who are doing a great job. Equally, we have people who are spending time on the wrong opportunities, with low margins and low chance of success.

By analysing our database, and our activities and processes, we can start to give guidance on how to be more successful in our own niche, with our customers. Even down to the level of saying ‘Hiring manager X only responds to us after we have submitted 3 CVs, regardless of the role’.

In that scenario, we may have sent two amazing candidates across, but we aren’t going to get any feedback – or progress the opportunity – until he has seen a 3rd. The danger here, of course, is that the 3rd CV comes from another agency! How much better would it be to know ahead of time? To be able to analyse the buying habits of our customer and formulate a sales process aligned directly to it.

Delivering Marginal Gains in Your Business

It’s easy to dismiss a 1% gain as futile, but aggregated compound improvements over time across multiple business areas can provide unprecedented growth opportunities.

Just think:

  • 1% more new business
  • 1% for new fee income
  • 1% less time to fill
  • 1% more placement fee
  • Across every consultant in your recruitment business.

When these things are added up across the entire organisation, there is room for huge gains to the top and bottom lines.

Your Marginal Gain Optimisation Strategy

Write a list of the 100 things you want to improve and manually record the metadata into a spreadsheet to make marginal gains over time!

Back in the real world, you can join hundreds of staffing firms utilising cube19, and the power of your database to turn the dial right away.

However you choose to drive marginal gains in your business, good luck.


This article was originally posted on LinkedIn