March 5, 2014

Applying the New ABCs of Sales to Your Hiring Process

School girl wears big spectacles posing next to white boardGetting top talent into your interview room is hard enough, but actually getting that top talent to sign on the dotted line with you can also be a struggle. Why? Because top talent, who are aware of  their value, will often have alternative options. They will be evaluating your business and role to see if you are the right fit for them, and if not, they will go somewhere that suits them better.

This is why modern hiring is a two-way sales process where the candidate sells themselves to you, and you sell your employer brand to top talent. Employers need to sales pitch to interviewees.

But, it’s surprising that although HR and Corporate recruiters are expected to act like sales people they are not actually given any sales training. So, I thought it would be a good time to go back to the basics—the ABCs of sales—and see how they can be applied to hiring.

Now, if we we’re talking about the ABCs of hiring 30 years ago, we’d be referring to the aggressive Always Be Closing tactic of sales shown in this famous scene by Alec Baldwin in the movie Glengarry Glen Ross. But, it’s generally accepted that the modern consumer (and talented job seeker) is more informed and is unnerved by suspicious of and even deterred by an aggressive overbearing sales approach. A more consultative approach to sales focused around listening and solution providing is more relevant and welcomed by today’s consumer (and talented job seeker).

And the Management Thought Leader Dan Pink has recently come up with a new set of ABCs for selling and persuading in the modern era (based on research), which I think employers and interviewers can use when selling their employer brand to top talent. They are Attunement, Buoyancy and Clarity. So, what do they mean and how can they be applied in hiring?

Well, attunement, refers to listening and understanding the other person and seeing their world through their eyes. In a recruitment scenario, I believe this is about finding out through questioning and listening, (and just listening) what the key job and career drivers and deterrents are for that candidate. Find out what inspires them and excites them in a career opportunity and what they are indifferent to and what turns them off. For example, do they really want to work with a specific technology? Do they want to be more innovative? Do they want to work closer to home? Tune into what they need and then show at the appropriate time how your organization meets these needs.

Buoyancy means being optimistic and appearing to love and believe in what you are doing. Employers or recruiters need to be evangelists and outwardly show a genuine love and passion for their own job and company. But, this needs to be balanced with authenticity. So, perhaps interviewers should adopt a style of positivity and passion but this should be balanced with cold hard facts about employee satisfaction levels or positive company financial statistics.

Pink found that the most effective persuaders were able to create a short, compelling summary that identifies the problem or issue. In the recruiting world of selling to top talent, I believe this clarity translates to being able to summarize what the employee is looking for and being able to neatly and subtly demonstrate how the organization can meet these needs.

So, what do you think you can apply the new ABCs of selling to your hiring process? I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Read more in Hiring Process

Kazim Ladimeji is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practicing HR professional for 14 years. Kazim is the Director of The Career Cafe: a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers.