As of late, there have been increasing (and sometimes heated) debates and discussions in and around the globalization and commoditization of names sourcing today and who really killed Kenny, the "Name Sourcer". But wasn’t this predictable? Each and every time an industry/market/region, etc. evolves or experiences a significant shift, there is fear, pause, concern, growing defensiveness, and debate. And let’s be honest: Debate is a positive catalyst; debate builds awareness; debate leads to consideration of new ideas; debate leads to change; debate can be arduous, but so often leads to progress itself.
So why is there so much debate in and around the globalization and commoditization of names sourcing today? Consider the following:
I. Telephone Name Generation Training have created the global supply-demand imbalance that has commoditized name generation in the first place.
Here's Why: Training firms exist to make a profit, period. The same is true of Telephone Name Generation Training Firms. Contrary to the PR machines and message board chatter indicating otherwise, these firms don't suddenly grow a conscience for and/or loyalty to U.S. workers when someone offshore reaches out their hand with a few bucks in it. Oh, Sandeep in India wants to pay for training? Ring the cash register. Maria in Argentina wants to pay for training? Ring the register. Luan in Vietnam? Ring it up. But doesn't this represent globalization at its core? Sure it does! As the supply of workers in emerging economies increases, companies look to capitalize on the lower wages . . . this is true whether we're investigating a manufacturing process or a recruiting process. Removing inefficiencies and unnecessary costs are hallmarks of good business minds.
However, here is the difference: Although Telephone Name Generation Training Firms have accelerated telephone name sourcing globalization, nobody wants to admit it. It's not easy to look Johnny and Suzie (U.S. Telephone Sourcers) in the eye and tell them that you just sold the same training out the back door to Sandeep, Luan, and Maria in emerging economies . . . which is going to push down their hourly rate and cost-per-name prices. As long as Johnny and Suzie don't know the truth, that globalization is inevitable and Telephone Name Generation Training Firms are accelerating it, they'll keep coming back to the same cash register without realizing they're being deceptively commoditized. These training firms don't mind selling training to anyone anywhere in the world . . . but don't like to admit it in the forums, chat rooms, and blogs. Letting the ‘cat out of the bag’ often can lead to some unhappy campers and a serious toll on revenue generation here in the U.S. Indeed, it's an inconvenient truth.
II. Telephone Name Generators in the U.S. don't want competition, because when supply goes up and demand remains constant, prices go down.
Here's why: It's a basic law of Economics, but most only like to admit market realities and supply-demand imbalances when they work in their favor (whether this relates to real estate, falling market salaries, asset depreciation, etc.). Furthermore, it’s an election year in which the economy is “Issue #1”.
The growing mantra of futile defensiveness now includes such famous one-liners as, “Well, you can't get names unless you know gatekeeper slang here in the U.S." Gatekeeper slang? What? Do gatekeepers speak an unknown cryptic language? Or we'll hear, "Well, 'Indians' don't understand our org charts here." What? 'Indians' don't understand how to draw org charts and use them for visual reference? Or, “Well, only those who were born and raised in the U.S. understand our culture.” What? The U.S. is the melting-pot of the world! In the words of industry luminary and globalization-advocate, Mike Johnson of Avature,
Mike’s comment here resonates because his organization is so often targeted as being ‘non-American’ by the U.S. names sourcing community, but nothing could be farther from the truth as removing cost inefficiencies often results in the creation of new jobs domestically. In fact, Mike and Avature tell the truth about leveraging low wages in emerging markets: Yes, they are proud of helping their clients achieve cost efficiencies.
“ . . . So I strongly disagree with anyone who says certain recruiting tasks can't be done effectively from an emerging market because of language skills, cultural barriers, etc. Whatever country you may be sitting in, recruiting skills are recruiting skills and the phone is the phone.”
III. In the current Nano-World, names/titles/contact information are now being stored in low-cost online databases.
Wow – what a novel concept! Information is now being stored online, accessible for a nominal monthly cost! Is this innovation with the names sourcing business model? No, it’s good business! It’s Web 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, x.0! Would a business rather sell 10,000 recurring subscriptions and leverage economies of scale? . . . or continue with one-off name sourcing projects? It’s not hard to see which leads to a larger business valuation and more profitable exit strategy. And the beautiful thing here is that we all win – we (TPRs’ and Internal Recruiting Organizations) achieve lower lifecycle cost, the business earns a higher valuation . . . and the database grows each and every day as more names are added.
The hesitation and resentment toward the exponential growth and adoption of such online tools as Spoke, ZoomInfo, Jigsaw, and LinkedIn, has been staggering to say the least. The flaming threads and debate against such online providers reminds me of how real estate professionals went bonkers in the late 90s’ when buyers were able to access more information about local property markets on the web. Their ability to perform their own research and due diligence greatly compromised the high commissions and piles of bunk real estate professionals were using to earn them. Yep, the result was much like we see today in the names sourcing world. Call me crazy, but I’m not a fan of information asymmetry, whether we’re speaking in regards to real estate or names sourcing. I've been saying for quite a while that the selling of bunk will inevitably stop - well, we're sure on that path now!
At the end of they day, What we’re seeing with the globalization and commoditization of names sourcing can be compared to a prize fighter who has been knocked down for the 3rd time in the fight, but continues to throw meaningless shadow punches from his back in a “last stand” effort. So to the U.S. names sourcing community, I have one piece of advice: Get back on your feet, regroup, brainstorm new ways to leverage your expertise, and focus on creating new forms of value in the way of competitive intelligence for your clients. Follow the lead of such sourcing value-adders as Jeff Weidner of HTC, Charles Hillman of Per Your Request (or dare I say my firm for implementing SSF strategies aimed at making real hires, not puffing up a names list!)?! Take off the defensive blinders, Open your eyes, see what is happening before you, get away from commoditized name gen, and get into the big leagues.
It might be painful today, but you’ll thank me for the tough medicine and ultimately come back stronger in the end. Just like Kenny did.