Few recruiters would call themselves salespeople, but sales skills and sales techniques are central to their success. Strong organization and sales skills are what separates the good recruiters from the elite.
Yet when it comes to recruitment training, there’s little attention paid to sales training. Effective recruitment training for consultants and recruiters will teach sales techniques that can significantly improve results.
Here are some of the key sales skills that recruiters can learn from sales training.
1. Customer Focus
Recruiters have multiple customers. From companies to candidates, it’s important to stay focused on what customers need as you guide them through the recruiting process.
This means building relationships and taking the time to understand goals. It takes a clear understanding of what the stakeholders will consider as success. This includes the emotional drivers that move people to action.
Whether recruiters are trying to get a prospect excited about a job opportunity or trying to land a recruiting job from a company, they are always selling.
They should also be marketing themselves and what they offer to distinguish themselves from other recruiters. If a recruiter can’t quickly articulate why they are significantly better than their competitors, they aren’t going to land a lot of business.
Recruiters can learn a lot from salespeople about the marketing process and lead nurturing. Companies that excel at lead nurturing report 50% more sales at less than a third of the costs.
3. Passionate Optimism
Recruiters are going to hear “no” a lot more times than they are going to hear “yes.” They need to exude passion about their job, the job they are trying to fill, the candidates they are presenting, and the clients they are pitching.
One of the key sales skills top salespeople have is the ability to press on when confronted with obstacles.
For example, when recruiters are trying to connect with decision-makers at companies to land their recruiting business, it’s tough to get the right person on the phone or to return an email. Research shows it can take as many as 18 calls to connect. It can be the same when hunting candidates. The best ones get a lot of calls from companies looking to fill jobs and recruiters. They won’t automatically take your call these days.
Email approaches aren’t much better. Less than a quarter of all sales emails get opened. What makes you think your phone call or email will stand out against those odds?
The ability to keep calling can be a powerful asset. If recruiters want to excel, they need to be relentless.
5. Structured Activity
It takes discipline and activity to connect companies and candidates. Seasoned recruiters know they must keep their funnel full. That doesn’t happen by accident. It takes focused activity.
Strong sales skills need to be complemented by strong organisational skills. While activity is important, activity for its own sake won’t get the job done. It takes a strategic approach to drive the process forward.
Sales training can demonstrate how these structured activities lead to success. If you think about it, the process recruiters and salespeople follow may be called different names, but they have similarities.
Sourcing → Prospecting
Recruiting → Sales and Closing
Servicing → Account Management
6. Setting Expectations
Salespeople know that one of the keys to repeat business is to present solutions. Where they get in trouble is when they don’t manage customer expectations.
Let’s say a recruiter is working with a new client that’s using an outside recruiter for the first time. They may expect the recruiter to surface dozens of qualified candidates in a very short time. However, we all know it doesn’t work that way. Even if the recruiter presents a few strong candidates, the client may be disappointed. The same goes for prospects. If they’re expecting a six-figure salary and an offer comes in that’s significantly less, they are not going to be happy.
Salespeople know how crucial it is to set realistic expectations for customers upfront so that they aren’t surprised in the end.
7. Active Listening Skills
The best salespeople practice active listening. They work hard to hear what prospects are saying – and aren’t saying – and probe for more information. While salespeople need to have an outline for their approach, the best avoid acting out a script and opt for a true dialogue.
Active listening follows a four-step process:
- Listen more than talk
- Restate what you hear (both the content and any associated emotion)
- Get a confirmation that you are hearing them correctly
- Ask relevant, open-ended follow-up questions to dig deeper
It’s through this process that recruiters uncover real needs and let prospects know they understand what is important.
8. Overcoming Objections
One of the most important sales skills that salespeople use regularly is overcoming objections. Based on experience, they know the most likely ones that will come up and address them before the prospect does. This gets past common concerns quickly so they can get to the real obstacles.
9. Selling, Not Telling
Recruiters sometimes fall into the habit of “telling” candidates about a job rather than “selling” them on why it’s the right fit. Likewise, they may tell a company how a candidate has the prerequisite experience for the job but fail to sell the intangibles which leads them to believe a candidate is right.
In trying to solicit businesses for recruiting jobs, recruiters can’t just list the steps they’ll take to find candidates. They need to “sell” how the process leads to results.
10. Closing the Sale
In recruiting and sales, every step taken should be leading towards the close. It goes beyond presenting a recruitment package to a business or a compensation package to a candidate. It takes finding the right solution to the needs they have identified both literally and emotionally.
Sales Skills and Sales Techniques
An effective recruiter in today’s competitive environment will use many of the same sales skills and sales techniques that top salespeople use. They will develop relationships, identify needs, overcome objections, and close the deal.
Investing in sales training and applying sales strategies can help recruiters take their game to the next level.