Who are you and what makes your company different?   Those are two of the questions every sales person needs to project in any sales situation, especially in the background screening industry.

If I had to place all screening companies into buckets, there would be four. First bucket, companies that innovate, disrupt and try to change the screening world for themselves and for their clients.  Second bucket would be simply the largest CRA’s.  Now some of the firms in this bucket could also be in the first but because they are so large, they go in both.  You can certainly disagree with this approach, but hey, it’s my article!  Third, you have everyday vanilla background screening companies that do a nice job marketing, gaining market share and winning deals.  These deals are sometimes won on price, promise of great service, customized processes and sometimes just because they have a great sales person that does what they say they’re going to do and their message resonates well with the prospect.  The fourth bucket would be everyone else, mostly very small CRA’s that grow in spite of themselves but have created nice little lifestyle businesses that they’re happy with.  Their clients are happy because they get what they want when they need it, but these firms will never grow into the next level, which is ok.

Why am I writing this article and what’s my point?  Well, it’s simple, if you don’t innovate or disrupt at this point you are no different than anyone else.   You will be passed by, you will be a dinosaur.  The firms that do disrupt will start to gain market share and after a while will absolutely dominate and change the screening world in the years to come.  Why aren’t you doing this?  In many cases you have been at this for a lot longer than everyone else!  You know this business better than most, but you fear change or are afraid to take the risks you once loved taking, that’s why you got into the business in the first place.  Now, let’s break this down a bit, what do I mean by innovate and disrupt?

You don’t have to spend millions of dollars or have the best leading edge technology to innovate, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say it helps.  Think about the products you offer and how you deliver them.  Can you make it better?  Can you make it cheaper?  Can you automate it?  Can you offer something that simply solves a business problem?  75% of you are saying to yourselves, “I’m so busy, who has the time?”  That’s a great problem to have, but it won’t last if you don’t find ways to differentiate yourself.  The rest of you may have other reasons, some companies are bound to a certain platform that may hamper your ability to do so, or even think outside that box.  I say to you that these are excuses and you must invest the time and money into thinking differently.  My business partner Les would always say to Nick and me, “don’t fall in love with yourself or what you’re doing, this is how companies fail.”  He’s 100% correct, especially in this case.  Don’t be afraid to take risks, you will fail more than you succeed especially when trying to shake things up. Learn from it and move on and KEEP TRYING.  This industry is growing nicely, but you have to be different.  Come up with a new product for a specific industry.  Find a new way of automating a process.  Figure out how to make your platform or your API that much different from you competitors!  Talk to your teams and let them help you find new and better ways….this is how successful companies grow and dominate an industry.  Look at what First Advantage announced this week with fingerprinting, it’s brilliant!  Look how Sterling Talent Solutions has changed the criminal record research model through automation with CourtDirect™, and its done with an incredibly high rate of accuracy, total disruption!  HireRight has done a ton with their candidate experience, and others have built industry specific products. Checkr has literally changed the industry overnight by introducing a true on demand API model.  The mid-market has done little and needs to step up to the challenge.

I love this industry and I see so much potential in it. I remember the days of going to a NAPBS conference and seeing what was new and cool.  What new platforms were out there and what all the CRA’s talking about.   I remember seeing some new firms with some crazy whacky ideas and thinking there was no way they can pull it off. Guess what, some of them not only pulled it off, but are now the largest players in the industry!  Know what else I loved? My BlackBerry!! I bet they wish they had not fallen in love with themselves.

I now get to help many different CRA’s and vendors in many different ways and I get to innovate myself!  If you are looking for someone to kick ideas around with or troubleshoot, hit me up, those are my favorite conversations to have.

Until my next article,