QUESTION: I am interested in your process for starting a new niche. – Debbie
ANSWER: One of the best ways to establish a new niche, is to first ask, is it viable? In most niches right now, you have tremendous demand for talent, so it is hard to pick a bad one.
From there ask yourself if you like talking about the stuff in the niche. The mistake I made early in my career was to develop a new niche just because there was demand in it, and I really did not enjoy the conversation around and even though there was demand I abandoned it. So I would just advise, are these the type of people and the type of role, meaning the title, with engineers it was a lot of fun. I mean really software, hardware engineers, not other kinds, but in technology, I did gel well. It was a lot of fun. So one, do you like the niche and again is it viable?
From there I would put together a list of 20 or 30 hiring managers and maybe hire a researcher through Upwork. So if you were going to go after, I am just making this up, security software, and you wanted to do salespeople in security software, I would hire a researcher to identify 30 VPs of sales, directors of sales in companies with less than $200 million in revenue. I would want to get their name, phone number, and email address.
Finally, I would call those hiring managers conduct a market research study. I would tell them it is going to be a very brief questionnaire and would compile the results. The conversation would go go like this:
Hello Ms./Mr. Hiring Manager. My name is Mike Gionta. I am an executive recruiter. I am doing a quick survey on your view of 2018 and hiring and where do see the biggest demand? Do you plan to expand, contract, or maintain the size of your salesforce in 2018?
Whatever answer they give you, ask, what is it about the business climate (let us say they said expand) that is going to allow you to expand? What do you foresee coming in the marketplace? What do you see as the biggest potential headwinds in the marketplace? What would hold you back from growing?
This call should take five minutes tops.
Then I would compile those answers into different categories, and at the end of the call I would say, What I would like to do, Debbie, is earn the right to help you build that team and that expansion mode. What would I have to do in that process for you to feel comfortable working with me?
If you talk to 30 people and you hear, we are shutting the doors, we are going bankrupt, this technology is dying from a lot of them, probably not a viable niche. But you have only invested 30 phone calls. You can do that in a week, even less. If you talk to 30 people and 28 are saying that things are going great and two are dying, well, there are always two that are going to be people in the bottom 10% or 20%. I am not going to let the two taint the 20, but if I am hearing a majority talking about huge caution and precaution and holding back, I may either put another 10 or 15 to validate or I just might move on to the next niche and follow the same process.
Great question. Thank you for submitting it.