One thing that eighteen years of sales recruiting has shown us is that most companies are horrible at selling their opportunity. The first step in understanding how to do this correctly is recognizing that there are two distinct phases where you’ll be selling your opportunity. The first phase is the attraction phase and the second is the interview phase. A solid attraction story will compel candidates to raise their hand to interview with your company. Your interview story is what will keep them engaged and excited enough to pursue an offer. So how do you sell your company to candidates?
Attracting A-Players requires a compelling story (or lots of cash).
Skip the Cliches.
When we ask potential clients why someone should work there, we often hear “we have a great culture.” They follow that up with “our company is a great place to work.” Guess what? EVERYONE says this. Rule #1 in telling your story is to avoid making generic, cliche claims about your company that you can’t back up with tangible examples. So let’s look at what works.
Today’s buyers (yes, potential employees are buyers) are skeptical and tired of being oversold. What’s more, the most talented of potential recruits have options. They might even have too many options. So how do you rise about that noise and get the attention of A-Players?
Two things sell, facts and stories. We’ll start with facts. The best facts are the ones that have been validated by an external source. This is known as external proof. A perfect example is winning a “Best Company to Work For” award. External awards are pure gold. They validate your claim that you “have a great culture.” Strong Glassdoor ratings are another powerful example of external proof. We blogged on How to fix your Glassdoor ratings last month. Of course, not every company has examples of external proof.
The other category of facts that sell we call credible facts. These are facts that aren’t backed by an external source but are believable. Examples are specific company growth figures and the exact earnings of your sales force. “Our sales reps earn six figures” isn’t credible. “In 2016, our average sales rep earned $107,582” is credible. External proof and credible facts work brilliantly in both the attraction and interview phases.
This brings us to stories. The right story can be even more powerful than facts. Here’s an example. “You remind me of Susan. Like you, Susan came from the payroll industry and had about four years of sales experience. We hired her in 2012, and she’s doing amazingly well. I promoted her to a senior sales role in 2015, and she just got promoted to National Accounts in January. I’d be happy to get you on the phone with her if you’d like to talk to her about working here.”
Those who tell the stories, rule society
Stories work very well during the interview phase. It’s harder to use them during the attraction phase as the story above would only work once you’ve connected live with a potential recruit. An example of an exception are articles written about your company. If the story is compelling, it could prove to be a powerful magnet to draw talent into your interview process.
Get on the Same Page.
Once you have your story, everyone involved in your recruiting and interview process must present a similar version of it throughout the process. It’s especially true as it relates to compensation potential. In our experience, few things raise a red flag faster for sales professionals than hearing three different stories about earning potential. In short, the consistency of your message is as important as the message itself.
To this point, our savviest clients leave nothing to chance with their story. They agree on the message as a team and reinforce that message at each step of the interview process. In addition to helping land A-Players, let’s look at how the right messaging can help retain them.
Set the Right Expectations.
There is no point in overselling your opportunity as it won’t take an A-Player very long after they start to realize that they’ve been oversold. In today’s hot employment market, they have options, and most will exercise their option to pursue greener pastures. Sell your company accurately to candidates, and new hires will find what they expected once they start. We blogged further on the topic of setting proper expectations in Why Transparency Matters in the Recruitment Process.
If all of this sounds like simple, blocking and tackling kind of stuff, you’re right. Get the details above right, and you’ll attract, excite and close more than your share of A-Players.