These Sales Techniques Can Help You Recruit Stronger Candidates (at a Lower Cost)

June 20, 2018

My company does a lot of work helping organizations find outstanding salespeople. Because of that, I’ve personally become very familiar with the most advanced sales processes. And I've found recruiters who use these same techniques attract more top performers, keep them more engaged throughout the process, and close more offers on better terms.

Achieving these better results starts by understanding the differences between Inbound and Outbound recruiting and how the contrasts can be used to develop an all-encompassing talent acquisition strategy.

For example, when there’s a surplus of top talent, an Inbound strategy is effective. In this case, you just need to write and post compelling job postings, weed out the weakest candidates who apply, and filter the rest on compensation. Offering an ill-defined lateral transfer is fine in this situation since the people applying are driven largely by some dissatisfaction with their current job situation. The downside to an Inbound talent acquisition strategy includes declines in job performance, retention, and job satisfaction.

It’s important to note that an Inbound strategy will fail miserably when there’s a scarcity of top talent. In this case, an Outbound process is essential with the goal of identifying top talent and engaging with them in career-focused conversations. This is when the use of advanced selling techniques becomes essential.

Applying advanced selling techniques to the recruiting process

The Challenger Sales Model can help talent leaders understand how to “sell” this Outbound process to their hiring managers and also train recruiters on how to use it to attract top talent. The underlying concept involves convincing your clients there’s a better way to meet their business needs than the traditional approach.

This starts by developing a performance-based job description – a short list of Key Performance Objectives (KPOs) – to define job success rather than a list of skills and experiences. When dealing with top tier talent, the Challenger model can be used by recruiters to convince these potential candidates to focus more on the career opportunity rather than the title and compensation as the criteria for discussing the job.

SPIN Selling represents the classic solution selling model where the sales rep first understands the customer’s needs and then develops a customized solution. SPIN stands for Situation, Problem, Implication, Need-Payoff. Recruiters can adopt these concepts by asking the hiring managers what problems need to be solved and then finding people who can solve these problems.

In the same vein, when contacting prospects, recruiters need to find out what the person wants from a career perspective and what she/he is not currently getting. Bridging these gaps is the essence of exceptional recruiting. Done properly, it results in high satisfaction and performance from both the hiring manager’s and new hire’s perspective.

Using a “Sequence of Steps” selling process involves setting up a series of conditions with the buyer that, if met, leads to an agreement to buy. First, get the hiring manager to agree to have an exploratory phone conversation with all prospects – passive and active – who meet the KPOs of the job.

If the exploratory call goes well, the second step would be to get the hiring manager to agree to invite the candidate onsite. A similar process would be used with prospects – urging them to have an exploratory career conversation with the hiring manager to see if the job represents a true career move and, if it does, agree to an onsite meeting (if invited). A similar sequence of next steps would move the hiring manager and candidate along a path that would lead to an offer being presented and accepted for the right reasons.

The use of advanced selling techniques can maximize quality of hire while lowering cost

I make the contention that by using these Outbound marketing and selling techniques, you only need 15-20 prospects at the top of the recruiting funnel to result in 2-3 outstanding finalists at the bottom. This “small batch, high touch” approach rests on another important selling concept: using targeted marketing to develop the short list of initial prospects. Targeted marketing involves finding potential customers who are more likely to be interested in your offer.

From a recruiting perspective, it translates to reaching out to people who are both performance qualified, meaning they can do the job (search on the KPOs), AND who possess the Achiever Pattern (meaning they’re in the top half or better of their peer group), AND who would naturally see your opening as a career opportunity. These are people who are likely to be seen by the hiring manager and ultimately made offers AND who are likely to respond to your messages.

Investing more time with fewer, but far stronger, people will naturally reduce cost per hire and time to fill, while raising quality of hire. However, it does take an Outbound mindset, strong recruiting skills, and a fully engaged hiring manager for the approach to succeed. The hardest part in making the shift is deciding to commit to doing it and trying it until you’re successful. Once this happens, you’ll never turn back.

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