You might have heard the chatter about an upcoming recession in 2020. In a recent survey from Bankrate, economists put the odds of a recession this year at about 41 percent. Meanwhile, a recent article in The New York Times pinpoints critical parts of the economy to watch, showing that currently improving outcomes don’t mean the economy is out of the woods just yet.

But fears of the financial future don’t have to lead to missed sales goals. Plenty of products and services can still sell in uncertain times. For instance, healthcare products come at a high cost, but health and wellness are necessities no matter the economic situation.

Recruiting the right sales talent during shaky economic times can feel like a huge challenge, but it’s not impossible. You just need to consider what top-tier candidates are looking for with a potential recession on the horizon.

Acknowledge the Elephant in the Room

Get out in front of your team’s uncertainty and address critical issues head-on throughout the hiring process. You’re more likely to gain a candidate’s trust by being forthright regarding the company’s future and long-term goals. Disingenuous optimism will mostly drive candidates away.

In fact, according to MedReps’s “2020 Best Places to Work in Medical Sales” report, some of the most important characteristics sales candidates look for in corporate leadership are honesty and trustworthiness.

Give candidates space to share their concerns, and then actively discuss how your company is planning to weather an economic downturn. When recruiters address prospects with genuine empathy and allow candidates to speak honestly, prospects gain insight into a company culture that promotes understanding and open communication. Top sales talent will recognize these as strong attributes that help companies get through the toughest economic times.

Focus on Brand Resonance

Odds are you’ve put a fair amount of thought into your employer brand — after all, employer branding has been a top priority for recruiters and talent acquisition teams over the last few years. However, as the economy shifts, so will candidates’ needs and expectations. Your employer brand may no longer speak to what is most important or appealing to candidates.

Understanding what matters to talent today allows you to tailor your messages to specifically address sales candidates’ fears of economic turmoil. For example, 80 percent of respondents to our “Best Places to Work” survey said they sought competitive compensation and benefits from employers — and with the threat of an economic downturn, sales reps may only grow even more concerned about overall compensation.

In 2020, it’s a good idea for companies to focus on building brand resonance — that is, constructing brands that really align with the needs and wants of today’s candidates. Put your finger on the pulse of your target candidates’ expectations and career goals by surveying current employees, researching what people have to say on social media, and asking candidates directly what they’re searching for in light of a possible recession.

For more expert recruiting insights, check out the latest issue of Magazine:

Show Candidates You Have a Plan

Sales reps are highly strategic thinkers. They’re constantly focused on the future as they look towards hitting new goals. When the economy is unstable, they may feel a loss of control over their strategies. Let them know the company has a plan for these seemingly uncontrollable situations.

Give top talent full transparency into the company’s plans for the future. Always be specific and honest to improve trust and keep candidates invested in your opportunities. Most importantly, don’t forget to show potential sales reps where they’ll fit into your company equation. For instance, maybe your company plans to grow 10 percent by 2022. Let candidates know how sales reps will contribute to the company’s collective success in that endeavor while also meeting their personal goals.

Let Your Long-Standing Reps Do the Talking

The best way to build trust with candidates during times of uncertainty is by letting them talk to their fellow sales reps. By setting up conversations between top-tier talent and the top sales professionals already on your team, you not only give candidates a closer look inside your company, but you also allow them to voice their concerns and get real answers from sales reps that have spent time in the trenches.

Perhaps you have an employee on staff who worked through the last recession and can speak to how the company rode those turbulent waters. Maybe candidates can talk to an employee who survived the recession at a different company and can highlight your organization’s unique approach to handling the challenges. Let your current sales team be your secret weapon in securing top talent.

According to the MedReps “Best Places to Work” report, the most important characteristics medical sales reps look for in a team are support and the willingness to help others. By connecting your current and future talent, you build camaraderie and show candidates you’ll be there to help them even when the going gets tough.

Karyn Mullins is president of Connect with Karyn on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

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