“You work in sales?” When I tell friends about my job, they often raise their eyebrows. Sales has a certain image, and it’s not always positive. The vacuum cleaner representative sends his regards, that sort of thing. Why then should recruiting, of all activities, look to sales for inspiration? Because outside perceptions are not necessarily accurate. In fact, some sales procedures and tactics can be applied wonderfully well to recruiting. For example:
One of the most obvious aspects of sales is that results can be measured. How many leads were generated by a particular action? How many deals were achieved? How many customer contact points were established? Only hard facts count. You know pretty quickly which methods work, and which don’t. And you can take appropriate countermeasures. It’s an approach that not only can but must be transferred to recruiting! I often come across a non-key-figure-based compilation of, for example, recruiting channels with potential customers. Don’t be afraid of transparent processes! Ultimately, they enable you to focus on what really counts: direct contact with people.
Good work is only possible with the right tools. Without software support you just can’t do justice to all contacts – and no, that does not mean Excel. For sales, there are tailor-made solutions to cover a variety of work steps, from special software for cold calling to comprehensive solutions such as Salesforce. Recruiting still has a lot of catching up to do here. Do you have the right tools to hand to support you optimally in your work? Or do you still have to struggle with lots of manual processes and self-made lists?
Target group-oriented approach
Send the same email to every contact? Recommend every event to the same customer? Unthinkable! Sales thrives on a differentiated and multi-faceted approach. Communicate differently with different target groups. A former intern will be interested in completely different information from the experienced project manager you met by chance at the last trade fair. General company or career newsletters have little value for a multiplicity of talents. Create targeted, group-oriented content and distribute it in the right places.
“Sales in itself is simple – but hard work,” a valued colleague of mine once concluded. The hardest thing is “sticking with it”. Of course, not every product presentation leads to a closed deal and even mutual interest won’t overcome all obstacles and delays on the way to a successfully signed contract. Distribution is a marathon, not a sprint.
It’s a similar story in recruiting. Not all of your top interns will start with you after their studies. Even the ‘silver medal winners’ who were eliminated in the final round will not necessarily approach the company a second time by themselves. However, if you don’t have a structured process in place to stay close to these valuable contacts, the chances of you ever appearing on the applicant’s radar again are extremely slim. Stay on it!
Candidates = Interested People = Customers
A structured approach is everything in sales: no one can afford not to follow up on trade fair contacts, miss valuable opportunities, or completely forget some leads. Sales people are really consultants. They match the product to the customer. And it’s the same in recruiting. Job applicants no longer approach companies as petitioners, but as talented individuals who can choose which employer they want to retain. Remember: it’s always worth investing in a long-term relationship. If it doesn’t work now, then perhaps it will at a later date for another position.
In short, successful hiring already has some parallels with the successful completion of sales and the two will continue to converge in the future. Of course, you are still the experts in your field – but the next time you get the chance to have a coffee with a colleague from sales, it might be well worth it.