Can using a sales method help secure top talent?

Posted by Victoria Williams

You may or may not have heard this before, but the method we use in sales to help close the deal is a method that can and should be used in securing your top talent. We all know that there is a lack of talented folk out there which means that top talent is hard to find, and it’s only going to get harder. Before the GFC one of the greatest worries in recruitment was the coming shortage of a skilled workforce due to the retirement of baby boomers.  
What does this mean for you? It means that Simon the Engineer is in demand and knows it. Yes, unemployment is high, but for a Petroleum Engineer or other highly sought after skilled worker?  Not so much. Your business is relying on you to find these skilled folks and to close the deal and get them to sign an employment contract. This is where thinking like a head-hunter and using basic sales methodology will assist you in securing the top talent.

I can’t give you every trick of the trade but I will share with you a few simple things you can do in your next interview to land the prize candidate!

Ask Open-ended Questions

Anyone in sales will tell you there are two types of questions - open and closed. Closed questions are yes/no questions like ‘do you like recruiters?’ Open questions require a longer answer than simply one word, so entice the person to engage in conversation.

That is the sole reason why it is so important for you to ask open questions, because it will get your candidate talking and allow you to get an instant feel for your candidate’s personality.  Ask questions that are direct but open, like: “If there were a handful of things you could change about your current position, what would they be”?  A question like this allows them to divulge to you what they would like to change - they are in fact telling you what has caused them to think about moving. This is what I would refer to as identifying the need and providing the solution, the need, is the candidates desire to change their current situation. The solution is your opportunity, the employer, to propose how you could change their situation for the better. The information you gather here is critical for your next stage.

The Most Important Words in Recruiting Are…

The next part comes from a friend who works for one of our big recruiters here in Australia. He spoke about the most important words in recruiting are: “If, then, is that correct”.  

In short how this works is as you ask your open question, and find the pain along the way and try minor closes: “so it sounds like, Mr. Candidate, if you had a job with XYX then you’d make a change, is that correct?”

Those small yes’s will lead to the big one at the end when you finally make the offer and close the deal. Just remember to use those magic words: “If, then, is that correct.”

The Counteroffer attack

As I mentioned earlier the talent we’re looking for are already in a job. Just because they have accepted your offer does not mean it’s a done deal.

Your candidate will of course hand in their resignation. With any top employee that announces their intent to resign, a good company will try to find out why.  When they find the cause for their top employee to move they will try to provide a solution. You can bet that solution includes a raise that not only tops your offer but makes it very hard for the candidate to refuse.

As difficult as it seems, you do need address this with your candidate. Explain to them that it is likely that they will receive a counteroffer from their existing employer. If that happens and all of their initial concerns are addressed- what do they plan to do? You are right to ensure that your time is not wasted as their response will tell you straight away if your offer is strong enough to ensure they take the final step. 

No recruiting process will ever be perfect, but the one thing you can rely on is that the psychology of sales lies in asking the right questions and listening. If you stick to this method it will no doubt assist you in hiring the top talent!

Good Luck.

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