What Recruiters Can Learn from Sales
By applying modern sales strategies to their craft, recruiters will help their organizations win the talent war.
By Ben Slater
All too often, business processes sit in silos, with recruiting and sales functions separated -- and ultimately defined -- by their individual tasks. However, as organizations move into the digital era, roles are beginning to shift and many organizations are seeing the line blur between traditional responsibilities.
Amid this backdrop, recruiters should consider their colleagues in sales -- and why they're likely to learn more from them than employees in any other department. Why? The answer is simple -- both the recruiting and sales functions are working towards a common goal: to see the business grow and prosper. Applying modern sales strategies to HR and recruiting roles is pivotal to a company's success and can help close the current skills gap for these teams. There are a few big lessons recruiters can take from sales departments that will make their jobs, and the candidate experience, more seamless and successful.
Don't use outdated resources
For a sales team, the contact pipeline is the single source of truth, yet sourcing is still relatively new as a core competency for many corporate recruiting teams. In fact, most recruiters are still using spreadsheets to keep their contact with candidates organized, an outdated resource that hinders collaboration and creates duplicated efforts and information across the board. With outdated spreadsheets, valuable recruiting data and interactions have to be manually updated, making it all too easy to contact the same candidate multiple times or drop the ball with people whom you should have followed up with. It comes down to this: If you're managing any kind of on-going candidate volume, investing in a system that helps your team engage and manage top talent should be a high priority -- just as it is for sales.
Every interaction should be highly personalized
One skill that great sales departments have mastered is personalization, making the person or organization they're selling to feel that they are being heard and all of their needs are being met. This has long been the most difficult part of a recruiter's job, as candidates are now less likely to respond to cold messages than ever before. But how do recruiters compete for attention and build a meaningful relationship without becoming a nag?
Many sales departments use a conversational tactic, examining a prospective client's needs before they ever become a paying customer. This helps to establish trust and start conversations that allow potential customers to be the experts before the sales rep asserts their own agenda. The same can be done for recruiters. To stand out from the crowd, companies need to start a dialogue using candidate information that other companies are taking the time to find. Candidates expect to be treated the same as customers, with relevant engagement from companies based on what they're interested in and where they are in their personal candidate journey. Sometimes it's best to start a relationship and nurture candidates for when you have a role open down the line than to bombard the right contacts at the wrong time with the wrong role. Now more than ever, the only way to win candidates over is to focus on engagement and consistently deliver authentic, personalized experiences.
Advanced reporting provides direction and clarity
Sales teams live and die by their numbers, using advanced reporting methods to track current progress against company goals and personal metrics. Having this system in place enables sales teams to maximize their time, focusing their efforts only on the areas that will truly make an impact. Yet, even the most data-obsessed recruiting teams lack the visibility needed to measure their impact or alter their course of action.
Going back to my previous point on keeping candidate information in spreadsheets, it's often difficult for recruiters to get visibility into the growth of their candidate pipeline and track what roles need to be filled in time to meet targets. If recruiters are only importing qualified candidates into a sourcing pipeline once they're ready to interview, they are losing the "true source" of the relationship, making it impossible to know which channels are most effective and where to focus their time moving forward. There is also limited clarity on metrics like total time to candidate submission, making it difficult to dig into individual recruiter performances and see who is moving the needle for the team. In short, it's hard to give management definitive proof that sourcing is working unless recruiters have the right reporting tools in place to quantify that statement.
Tying it all together
When it comes to the digital era, the one thing you can count on is constant change -- and recruiting and sales departments are important pieces of the digital transformation puzzle. While sales may generate concrete revenue numbers that drive a business' bottom line, recruiters are bringing in the talent that becomes the backbone of the organization. The quality of a company's talent can be the difference between financial growth and stagnation. Success for recruiters is all about building personalized, authentic relationships with talent and driving value for them during every interaction, much like their sales counterparts.
Ben Slater is vice president of growth at Beamery.