There is much debate in the recruitment world on whether recruitment vs sales or recruitment = sales.
Recruitment and sales may seem like apples and oranges, but they both share the same goal to close the deal. Whether filling an open position or closing a sale; recruiters and salespeople must be able to identify and solve problems, communicate effectively, and build relationships with potential customers.
Just like how a salesperson needs to be able to think on their feet and seal the deal, recruiters also need to be able to “sell” the opportunity to the candidates and close the loop by getting them to join the company. By understanding and applying sales techniques, recruiters can hit the ground running to find the best candidates and “clinch” the deal.
Table of Contents
- 1 Why recruiters should know how to sell
- 2 Sales techniques recruiters should master
- 3 Sales traits recruiters must possess
- 3.1 Building rapport and developing strong relationships
- 3.2 Asking the right questions
- 3.3 Being persuasive
- 3.4 Following up
- 3.5 Customer Focus
- 3.6 Passionate Optimism
- 3.7 Resiliency
- 3.8 Structured Activity
- 3.9 Setting Expectations
- 3.10 Overcoming Objections
- 3.11 Selling, Not Telling
- 3.12 Resources to polish your sales skills
- 3.13 Closing the deal
Why recruiters should know how to sell
If you think that simply posting job ads and sending out generic emails will be enough to attract top talent. Sorry, to burst your myth. The truth is, this “spray and pray” approach may save time in the short term. But, it’s a recipe for disaster in the long run. Not only will it take longer to find quality candidates, but also risk turning them off completely.
But it’s not just candidates that need convincing. Clients aren’t always sold on first pick for a candidate either. That’s why it’s important for recruiters to know how to sell; not just the job or the candidate, but the match between the two. It’s a fine art, and it’s essential to master it if you want to be a successful recruiter.
Just like the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, if you believe in the job and candidate, don’t let rejections like “I already have a job”, “Their experience doesn’t match,” or “I’m too busy” bring you down. Instead, sharpen your sales skills and make sure you’re doing your job and the candidate justice.
Sales techniques recruiters should master
Present the outcomes
Successful salespeople don’t pitch their products or services directly to customers; they present the outcome that the customer can achieve by using their product or service. Similarly, recruiters can make job opportunities more appealing by framing them as opportunities for the candidate to achieve their desired career outcome rather than just listing out skills and responsibilities.
By highlighting the long-term benefits and growth opportunities the company can offer, recruiters can sell the outcome of a successful career journey to the candidates and increase the chances of making a successful hire.
Build long term relationships
Rather than focusing solely on securing a sale, sales pros prioritize building long-term relationships with their clients.
In a similar vein, recruiters should aim to maintain contact with candidates even if they are not successful in placing them in a particular role. They can help candidates secure other positions that are an excellent fit for them. This can serve as a strong foundation for a long-term business relationship.
Continue building a deep pipeline
Sales pros are proactive and continue to sell even when they don’t have a shortage of customers and are already closing deals.
Similarly, recruiters should be proactive in their search for the best candidates, even when they don’t have immediate job openings. By identifying potential candidates early on, recruiters can have a pool of qualified candidates ready when an important position becomes available, saving time and effort in the hiring process.
Ensure customer satisfaction, before asking for referrals
Experienced sales professionals understand the importance of building trust and rapport with their clients. They wait until their customers are completely satisfied before asking for referrals.
Recruiters should also prioritize creating a positive and enjoyable work environment for their employees, and only after this has been achieved should they consider asking candidates to recommend them to their contacts.
Sales traits recruiters must possess
Building rapport and developing strong relationships
Just as sales pros build relationships with potential customers, recruiters should focus on building rapport with potential candidates and developing strong relationships with them. This can help create a positive, personal connection that can lead to more successful hires.
Asking the right questions
Sales professionals often use open-ended questions to learn more about a potential customer’s needs and desires. Similarly, recruiters can use open-ended questions to learn more about a candidate’s skills, experience, and career goals.
In today’s job market, the competition for top talent is fierce. So, recruiters need to be able to effectively sell the opportunity to potential candidates to make a successful hire. According to a LinkedIn survey, “70% of the global workforce is either actively looking for a job or open to new opportunities,” . This clearly highlights the need for recruiters to be persuasive.
Recruiters need to be able to sell the dream and sing the praises of the company and the role to potential candidates in a way that makes them want to leave their current job and join the organization. They need to be able to paint a picture of the future and show how the role aligns with the candidate’s career goals and aspirations. By “selling the sizzle, not the steak,” recruiters can make the opportunity more attractive and increase the chances of making a successful hire.
Moreover, being persuasive also means being able to address any concerns or objections that candidates might have about the job change. Recruiters need to be able to “nip it in the bud” by providing clear and convincing answers that allay any doubts that the candidate might have.
Sales professionals know that following up with potential customers is key to closing a deal. Recruiters can also benefit from following up with candidates, whether to provide additional information, address any concerns, or simply check in to see how the candidate is feeling about the opportunity.
Recruiters have multiple customers, including both companies and candidates. To effectively guide them through the recruitment process, it’s crucial to focus on what each customer needs and to take the time to understand their goals. This requires building strong relationships and gaining a clear understanding of what success looks like to each stakeholder, including the emotional drivers that motivate them to take action.
Recruiters will often hear “no” more frequently than “yes.”. To be successful, they must exhibit a passion for their job, the job openings they are trying to fill, the candidates they are presenting, and the clients they are pitching to.
One of the critical skills that sets top salespeople apart is their ability to persevere and overcome obstacles. For example, recruiters may face challenges when trying to connect with decision-makers at companies to secure their recruiting business. Research shows that it can take as many as 18 calls to get through to the right person.
The same is true when searching for top candidates. They often receive many calls from recruiters and companies trying to fill job openings. Additionally, email approaches can be challenging, as less than a quarter of sales emails are typically opened. To excel in recruitment, it is essential for recruiters to be relentless and persist in the face of these obstacles.
Also Read: Recruitment Pipeline Email Templates to Enhance Candidate Experience
Connecting companies and candidates effectively takes discipline, focus, and a strategic approach. Experienced recruiters know that they need to be proactive in keeping their pipeline full, which requires structured and targeted activity. It’s important to have strong organizational skills in addition to strong sales skills. As simply engaging in activity for its own sake is not enough to achieve success. Sales training can be a valuable resource for learning how to use structured activities to drive the process forward. While the terms may differ, recruitment and sales processes have many similarities. Check the image below.
One of the keys to success in sales is the ability to present solutions to customers. However, it’s also important to manage their expectations. A new client may have unrealistic expectations on number of qualified candidates that can be identified quickly. If the recruiter presents strong candidates, but client’s expectation not managed, it leads to disappointment. To avoid this, recruiters should properly manage client’s expectations.The same is true for candidates.. Recruiters must set realistic expectations upfront to avoid surprises and disappointments down the line.
Active Listening Skills
Effective salespeople are skilled at active listening, which involves carefully paying attention to what prospects are saying (and not saying) and asking follow-up questions to gather more information. Rather than following a rigid script, they engage in a true dialogue with their prospects. Active listening follows a four-step process:
- Listening more than talking.
- Restating what has been heard (including any underlying emotions).
- Seeking confirmation that the message has been understood.
- Asking relevant, open-ended questions to delve deeper.
By practicing active listening, recruiters can better understand the needs of their clients and demonstrate that they understand what is important to them.
One of the key skills that successful sales pro use regularly is anticipating and addressing objections from prospects. Based on their experience, they identify the most common objections that may come up. And, address them proactively so that they can move past these common concerns and get to the root of any underlying issues. This streamlines the sales process and ensures that objections are not allowed to stand in the way of success.
Selling, Not Telling
Recruiters sometimes make the mistake of simply “informing” candidates about a job opportunity rather than “convincing” them why it is the right fit. Similarly, when presenting a candidate to a company; recruiters may highlight their technical qualifications and relevant experience but fail to “sell” the intangible qualities that make them a good fit for the role.
In order to secure recruiting assignments from businesses, recruiters must go beyond simply listing the steps they will take to find candidates and instead “sell” how their process leads to successful results.
Resources to polish your sales skills
To enhance your sales skills, I suggest revisiting some valuable resources, including:
- “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert Cialdini – This book delves into the six pillars of influence: Reciprocity, Commitment, Social Proof, Liking, Authority, and Scarcity, through engaging real-life stories.
- “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie – Although an old-school classic, this book remains relevant and useful for improving interpersonal skills.
- SPIN Selling – This book introduces the concept of selling through questions and active listening, providing effective techniques for closing sales.
- Chet Holmes – Listening to the late, great Chet Holmes, who was the top salesman for Charlie Munger (Warren Buffett’s right-hand man), can be incredibly beneficial. Check out “The 5 Qualities of a Sales Superstar” for an overview of Holmes’ approach to hiring salespeople, which emphasizes high-leverage traits such as Ego and Empathy.
- Brian Tracy – Brian Tracy has numerous books and resources on sales that can help sharpen your skills. One particularly useful book is “The Psychology of Selling.”
Closing the deal
In both recruitment and sales, it’s important to keep the ultimate goal in mind and work towards closing the deal. This involves more than simply presenting a package of services or compensation to a client or candidate. It involves finding the right solution to their needs, both practical and emotional, to move towards a successful conclusion.