As the economy continues to rebound, more companies are relying on top sales and business development talent to drive their businesses. Without solid sales reps, companies fail to thrive. Given that, it’s not surprising that recruiters are often asked to discover these rock star candidates at warp speed. While there are many sales candidates looking for work, they may lack the specific qualities your company truly needs.
Simply put, being a successful salesperson is not something just anyone can do. While these roles are often attractive financially, they also require a candidate who is willing to go the extra mile, understand that travel may be involved and have a resilient personality. Sales candidates are usually cautious about who they want to work for as well. So, how can we as recruiters deliver these crucial people to employers? Here are five tips to help you win over these candidates.
Do your homework
This step should be Recruiting 101, right? Well, not so fast. Sales candidates build relationships and prepare pitches for a living. So, before you ever pick up the phone or start typing an email, make sure you’re an expert on your company. Your sales candidates will ask you questions other candidates never bring up. So, dig in and read up on media coverage and product catalogs. Partner with your hiring managers to get the inside scoop on the company culture and vision. Ask to talk to people who hold similar roles within the department. Your credibility with these candidates can be won or lost just based on this step alone.
Know your audience
Great salespeople take the time to learn about their customers. What makes them unique? What do they need? Who are they as people? What motivates them? They don’t accept short answers. They ask follow-up questions and get to the heart of any request.
As a recruiter, you should approach your candidates the same way. Start by reading their resume, but know there's more to it. Figure out, based on past employment, education and skills, what this candidate values. Are there common threads? What about this candidate’s background matches the role or the organization? What are some things that this candidate would love to know about the company that isn’t in the job description? Don’t be afraid to search online for clues. When you're talking to the candidate, jot down notes. These small clues can tell you a lot about what drives this candidate.
First impressions count!
Whenever you’re reaching out to a candidate, be a strong representative for the company. Mirror the qualities of successful salespeople in the organization so candidates know the caliber of the people they’ll be dealing with. Sales candidates are in high demand. They know what excellent service looks like, so be on top of the details, communicate and follow up. More than any other kind of candidate, sales candidates will notice and appreciate the efforts you make to improve their experience.
Rein them in if need be
Sales candidates are not shy about picking up the phone to check in or have another chat. They're used to building relationships and therefore will have no problem taking this approach with you. Know ahead of time what your game plan is for candidate conversations. One thing that’s especially helpful is to plan for a beginning, a middle and an end for every screening call. The beginning should focus on building rapport, setting expectations and giving details about the role. The middle is focused on asking relevant questions to determine candidate fit. The end is their time to ask a few questions and for you to set expectations for next steps. Small talk is fine, but don’t be afraid to steer the conversation in the most productive direction.
Candidates flock to recruiters they feel connected to, and they often have valuable insight into the industry and be be a source for other connection. Every single interaction you have as a recruiter should be focused on building long-term relationships — no matter how short the conversation or if they are a fit for the job. Be the recruiter your candidates trust. Follow up when you say you will, and be sure to catch up with them a few months later. Even when you’ve successfully placed a candidate in a role, the relationship should continue. The same can be said for candidates who aren’t a fit right now. Just because they didn’t get this position doesn’t mean there won’t be one down the line better suited for them. Candidates who have a positive candidate experience are great promoters of both you and the company. Make sure your candidates know you genuinely care about them. It makes a huge difference and will make your life a whole lot easier down the road.