Consultative Selling Resource Pack

In the past couple years Higher has introduced our network to a job development model known as Consultative Selling. In addition to providing training on Consultative Selling at various Higher training events, we also published a four-part blog series and facilitated a 1-year online Community of Practice (CoP) group focused on adapting this model for refugee employment.

In order to continue helping our network learn and practice this approach to job development, we put together this resource pack, including our intitial Consultative Selling blog series and recordings of all 3 CoP calls.

Consultative Selling Blog Series

Click on the links below to read Higher’s 4-part blog series on the four primary aspects of the Consultative Selling model: Prospecting, Needs Analysis, Selling, and Follow-up:

Illustration by Gary Phelps / EMM Wichita

Part One:Hitting the Target: Prospecting Techniques That Work

Part Two:Understanding Employers’ Needs and Providing Solutions

Part Three:Providing and Selling Workforce Solutions

Part Four:Strengthening Employer Relationships Through Effective Follow-up

2016 Job Development Community of Practice (3 Presentations)

In 2016 Higher facilitated a Community of Practice (CoP) for refugee employment staff who had attended the one day training put on by Allen Anderson at our Second Annual Refugee Employment Workshop in November 2015 in Omaha, NE (to hear a little bit from Allen, check out the Innovations and Opportunities panel discussion from our Second Annual Refugee Employment Workshop page).

Over time the CoP expanded to include coworkers of the original members, and other refugee employment staff who received Consultative Selling training from Higher at separate events. You can access video recordings of these three online events below:




For more on Consultative Selling, click here.

If you are using this model, we would love to hear about your experience. Please email us at

Please follow and like us:

8 Steps to Get the Most from Cold Calling in a High Volume Shopping Area

Outdoor Shopping CenterThrowback Thursday: a classic Higher blog post about a fundamental of our work.

Cold call canvassing can be intimidating, but is one effective component of your job development strategy that you can’t afford to avoid.  Consider trying it in a high volume outdoor strip mall with a high volume and wide variety of retail businesses.

If you plan well, an afternoon’s work can net immediate job leads, numbers to call for future openings and even strategic employer contacts for longer term relationship development.

Sometimes getting out of the office helps you stay motivated and fueled with fresh ideas.  (And, if you happen into a DSW or Starbucks, a 10 minute break can really boost your energy level, as well.)

Here are 8 steps for making the most of this approach.  Gather your courage.  Make a plan.  Now, GO!

  1. Pick the best target.  Select a location on a bus line or accessible on-foot for a large number of clients.
  2. Come prepared.  Bring business cards, marketing materials and something to record information for your database and follow-up plans.
  3. Look the part.  Plan to dress appropriately since your first impression will be important.  Wear comfortable shoes since you’ll be walking a lot.
  4. Timing is critical.  Canvass businesses between 2:00 – 5:00 pm.  Noone wants to be bothered during the lunch rush.  Decision makers are often not on duty early in the morning or late in the work day.
  5. Jump on the openings you find.  You are very likely to identify a few immediate openings, some of which might not be advertised yet, so competition might be less.  Be prepared to respond to them within 24 hours at the latest.  Text or email them to your team immediately.  Have a couple of clients in mind so you can help them apply quickly.  You could even bring client resumes to lay the groundwork for them to respond in person.
  6. Be on the lookout for follow-up opportunities.  Note any employer that seems especially promising for longer term relationship building.  This won’t apply to every business in the shopping area, but you might find an interested manager or employee with some kind of connection you can leverage.
  7. Grab applications. They can be useful for future openings or to help clients practice completing them for general skill building.
  8. Don’t forget to capture basic information.  Include contact information, the application process, common types of jobs and any other details you can glean for your employer database.






Please follow and like us:

Employers Not Responding To Your Emails? Here’s a Tool That Will Help!

Guest Post by James Lopez

Email Black HoleEmail, for a Job Developer, is both a blessing and a curse. Sometimes it works like a charm. Other times it feels like a waste of time because no matter how many prospecting emails you send out, none ever return.

Fortunately, because of the digital age that we live in there are resources and tools out there to better improve your emails, resulting in higher response rates and better relationships with employers.


CRM Software

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems are tools designed to help salespeople develop better customer relationships. There are many different types of CRM software but anything that can collect or track customer relationships is defined under this term.

CRM Systems can be used to:

  • Track when and how often a customer or prospect is interacting with messaging
  • Help create better marketing messages by identifying successful key phrases
  • Increase email response rates
  • Ensure that you are keeping in constant contact with customers or prospects
  • Help you use your time more efficiently

Using CRM Software for Job Development

CRMs offer a multitude of tracking and organizing strategies to make job development and outreach easier and more efficient.

CRMs allow you to see, in real time, the actions of potential employers and how they respond to your “cold” emails. Imagine after sending an email being able to see when a new employer clicks on your email to read it. Imagine being able to use that data to know what phrases are most effective in getting a response from a potential employer.

According to HubSpot, a top rated CRM company, “a recent study found that the average response rate of cold emails is 1.7%.”

With such limited time, it is important to identify tools that will help maximize your effectiveness and increase the chance that employers will read and respond to your emails.

Using CRM software to improve your email

Sidekick by HubSpot is a free CRM extension you can add to your email (Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, etc) that will track real time openings of emails and total views. Instead of blindly sending out an email, Sidekick will notify you if and when someone opens your email, the total number of views, and give you a contact card with a potential employer’s social media accounts and websites associated with their email.


Here are some ways that Sidekick will help you maximize your efficiency:

  • Write effective emails that people will actually open
  • Write more personalized emails that sound less like sales and more like a conversation starter
  • Keep in better contact with potential prospects
  • Help identify other potential employers via social media connections and professional groups
  • Create follow up requests immediately after you see a prospect open your email by sending another email

What I learned from using Sidekick

As a Job Developer, I am constantly sending out emails to potential employers. Before, I would send out long detailed emails that would explain who we were and what our program did. These emails would receive very low response rates and I had no idea what was turning people off to opening or reading my emails.

By using the Sidekick tool I started to track the open rates of my emails based on different subject lines, content, and action steps. What I found out was that employers prefer shorter emails (less than 200 words) that acknowledge the open position and set up specific days and times to meet as well as expectations of the meeting.

Additionally, I noticed that subject lines that require action like “Open Position at your Warehouse, Let’s Fill It ASAP together!” are much more effective in opening the conversation and getting potential employers to open your emails. Now, I have a 30% higher open rate and a 40% higher response rate that has led to a significant increase in my employer portfolio.

Check out the Sidekick tool here to see if it might be helpful in your Job Development efforts!

James LopezJames Lopez is a Job Developer at Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains in Greeley, CO. James’ expertise includes helping refugees obtain employment in rural/suburban areas, integrating technology into Job Development work, and using the Consultative Selling approach to build long-term employer relationships. You can reach James at

Please follow and like us:

Hitting the Target: Prospecting Techniques That Work

Consultative Selling for Refugees, Part One

Omaha Photo Collage

Second Annual Refugee Employment Workshop, Omaha, NE / Illustration by Gary Phelps at EWARM in Wichita, KS

During the optional day at our Second Annual Refugee Employment Workshop last November, international job development consultant Allen Anderson gave 70+ refugee employment professionals a crash course on a model of Job Development known as Consultative Selling.

We’ve already shared a birds-eye-view of what Allen presented, but now we want to zoom in and talk about the model in more detail.

This post is the first of a 4-part series that will share the basics of the model, as well as adaptations from refugee employment programs who have already been using it.

The “4-Step Roadmap”

 There are many facets to this model but the basic framework can be found in what Allen Anderson calls “The 4-Step Roadmap.” These four steps include: Prospecting, Needs Analysis, Selling and Follow-up—in other words, the process of finding, developing and maintaining employer relationships.

Four-step Roadmap

Let’s get started with a basic introduction to Consultative Selling and then zero in on the first step in the “The 4-Step Roadmap”: Prospecting.

What is Consultative Selling? defines Consultative Selling as “Personal selling in which a salesperson plays the role of a consultant. He or she first assists the buyer in identifying his or her needs, and then suggests products that satisfy those needs.”

This approach has been around since the 1970s, and has gradually gained popularity among employment service professionals as a strategy to build long-term partnerships with employers.

For those serving populations with significant employment barriers, Consultative Selling also provides a framework that allows them to make the case that they can provide motivated, dependable and reliable workers that meet the needs of the employer (despite the fact that some of these workers may not fit the mold of who the employer would typically hire).

What is Prospecting?

Prospecting Post ItProspecting is the first step in the Consultative Sales process. Prospecting, broadly speaking, is the act of looking for something valuable (e.g. prospecting for gold). In our case, the valuable thing we are searching for is job opportunities for our clients. So when we say prospecting, we mean how you go about finding those opportunities.

Prospecting is making first contact with an employer to get basic information about job opportunities (both advertised and “hidden”). At this point, you’re not necessarily selling an employer on your services or clients– you’re simply trying to find job openings.

Random Lead Generation vs. Targeted Lead Generation

Prospecting can be random or targeted. Random lead generation is when you find a list of employers in your region and just start making phone calls. This approach can be very effective in identifying “hidden” (unadvertised) jobs, and may open up opportunities with employers that you were unaware of or assumed would not have jobs that fit your client’s needs.

Targeted lead generation is where you make cold calls to employers in a particular industry or smaller geographical area based on the needs or skills of your clients. For example you may choose to target employers near where your clients live or employers within an industry that your clients have experience in.

Traditional Prospecting vs. Non-traditional Prospecting

ProspectingTraditional prospecting combines information gathering about job opportunities and a request for an appointment (step 2 in the 4-Step Roadmap: the “Needs Assessment”). While this approach can be effective and time efficient, it can also shut down the conversation too early if employers don’t feel like listening to a sales pitch or if there are no job openings at the moment.

Pushing for an appointment in the first phone call also forces you to make a quick decision about whether or not an opportunity should be pursued, which may result in chasing down opportunities that don’t really make sense for your clients.

Non-traditional Prospecting involves splitting the prospecting steps by using one phone call as a kind of survey to identify opportunities, and then following up with a second phone call and request for an appointment to the employers that you want to target.

This approach has several advantages (duties can be divided; space to identify which employers you want to target; the opportunity to go into meetings with foundational knowledge about their needs). The downside is that making two calls will take more time and potentially more manpower.

There are times to use both approaches. It’s up to you to decide what makes sense for your team.

First Contact: What do you say?

Here are some basic prospecting questions:

  • Are you hiring?
  • What positions?
  • How much does it pay?
  • Who is the hiring manager?
  • Has the job been advertised?

You may ask more or less than these questions, but your main objective is to gather preliminary data that will help you decide whether or not an opportunity is worth pursuing. You also want to get the name and contact information of the hiring manager whenever possible.

Observations & Adaptations from Colorado & Nebraska

Refugee employment colleagues from both Colorado and Nebraska who have been working with this model for a few years now agree that they have had more success with targeted lead generation rather than random lead generation.

They cite the following reasons for preferring a targeted approach:

  • A strong local economy – Both Colorado and Nebraska have low unemployment rates and ample job opportunities. Refugee employment programs in these states already have strong relationships with employers, and have not needed to rely on random lead generation to find opportunities.
  • When they did experiment with random lead generation, the “hidden” jobs they found often were not a good fit for refugee job seekers
  • Targeted lead generation produced better results because it focused the prospecting process on employers/jobs that fit typical client skills and are closer to clients’ homes or accessible by public transportation.

This is not to say that random lead generation would never prove useful, but so far, the targeted approach seems to be bringing in more jobs that work for refugees.

Targeted lead generation also seems to be the way to go if you have a small employment staff or if you are in a smaller community. James Lopez, Job Developer at Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains in rural/suburban Greeley, CO strongly recommends the targeted approach:

James Lopez_cropped“I schedule out time each week to target neighborhoods or industries that would be a good fit for my clients. Instead of feeling like I need to call 100 different businesses each day, I spend a few hours per week and gets the results that I need.” -James Lopez

How many calls are needed to produce results?

Staff from Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska report that 20 phone calls typically result in 2-3 strong leads.

This matches up with Allen Anderson’s statistic that generally 10% to 20% of total calls will generate leads (although he advises that it will typically take 50 phone calls to start generating this type of percentage).

Tips for Prospecting

Carol Tucker, Job Developer at Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska in Omaha shared the following tips for prospecting:

  • Create a documentation system for your team to track your prospecting efforts
  • Familiarize your team with your prospecting process
  • Set weekly goals and plan your prospecting strategy
  • Don’t forget to leverage your personal and professional connections (friends, family, development department, board members, etc.)
  • Engage with employers on social media (facebook, LinkedIn, etc.)

Carol Tucker“Be spontaneous. Always carry business cards and keep your eyes open- opportunities can be anywhere.” -Carol Tucker


Tools for prospecting

One tool that has been helpful for Carol and her teammates is ReferenceUSA, an online database of local employers that you can access through your local library website. Most libraries are ReferenceUSA subscribers. This tool allows you to search for employers by zip code, and obtain other employer information.

If your library does not subscribe to ReferenceUSA or if you want to target high growth industries in your area, explore the online tools we highlighted in our recent Workforce Resource post to learn about high growth industries and employers in your area.

Finally, if you are looking for jobs close to home or easily accessible by public transportation for your clients, try these 4 Mapping Strategies for Employer Outreach.

Let us know what prospecting techniques you use, or what results you see from trying the techniques outlines in this post:

*Many thanks to Allen Anderson of DTG-EMP and the dedicated refugee employment staff at the ECDC African Community Center in Denver, CO; Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska in Omaha; and Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains in Denver and Greeley, CO. Their valuable insights made this post possible.

Please follow and like us:

Workforce Resource: Online Tool for Identifying Prospective Employers



Welcome to the second post in our series featuring some of the tools, resources and programs available in the mainstream workforce system, shaped by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and delivered through the national network of American Job Centers serving all U.S. job seekers.

It’s a complex, resource-rich system underutilized in refugee employment services. Higher is determined to change that so our clients benefit from new opportunities and employment services.

We’ll do the research you don’t have time for amidst managing client case loads and employer relationships.  You can focus on using highlighted resources to help your clients succeed in the U.S. workforce.

In our first post we highlighted The Department of Labor, Education and Training Agency’s Industry Competency Models, which provide detailed information as well as easy to understand visuals explaining the skills needed to advance in a variety of industries.

In this post, we’ll share another online resource that will give you valuable information about a variety of industries and help you identify local employers to target in your job development efforts.

Workforce Resource: Online Tool for Identifying Prospective Employers

The “Explore Careers” section of, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, offers several online tools including career profiles, detailed industry information, and occupation comparisons.

Explore Careers 2

Several useful tools for job development can be found on the “What’s hot” page under the “Learn about careers” category (see photo above). In this section you can run several reports including:

Using These Tools to Discover Prospective Employers and Pathways for Your Clients

One of the most helpful features of these reports is that they allow you to filter the results by education level (some high school up to master’s degree or higher). This feature can be used to find opportunities based on client’s education/skill level or to show clients the education that will be necessary to obtain to accomplish their career goals.

Select Education Level

Once you select which type of trends you want to see and the education level, you will get a list of occupations, which you can filter by state. This will give you a general idea of what industries might be worth pursuing in your region. Here’s an example of the Top 25 Fastest Growing Occupations from the state of Ohio for job seekers with an education level of “some high school”:


How You Can Find Thousands of Employers to Target!

From the list of occupations (above) you can click on the links to see Occupation Profiles which will give descriptions of the occupations and highlight national and state trends. To find actual employers to contact go to the dropdown menu in the top right hand corner and choose “Business Finder” which will redirect you to another page where you can search for businesses by occupation and city.

So let’s say you want to search for construction laborers in Columbus, OH. Here’s what you get:

Construction Laborers

4,021 employers to add to your prospecting list!

Do you need to expand your employer network and create some new opportunities for your clients? There is no better way to go about accomplishing this goal than to identify local industries that are growing, need people, and offer jobs that fit your clients’ skills and/or educational backgrounds.

This tool is a great place to start!

Please follow and like us: