Got Quota? Aligning a Great Recruiting Process With a Great Sales Process

Sep 14, 2010

If you are reading this article, you may already have a great recruiting process. Perhaps you have worked hard to identify a series of defined, repeatable steps that (when performed correctly) lead to excellent results for you and for your recruiting organization. You may even have key metrics to help you evaluate the effectiveness of your recruiting process at each step.

But have you ever wondered what you might be able to do to drive to even higher levels of performance — individually or as a group? Consider aligning your recruiting process with a great sales process.

Some forward-thinking companies — including the team at DaVita (ERE 2009 Recruiting Department of the Year) — are doing just that!

Why a Sales Process?

Like any business process, a great sales process provides everyone with a clear roadmap of what to do. Within sales organizations, that means having a higher percentage of sales reps “closing the deal” and achieving quota. In the recruiting world, it could mean enhancing recruiters’ ability to turn even the most “super passive” candidates into high-quality hires. It could also mean knowing exactly how to turn around the most common “no thanks” responses (e.g., “No thanks, I’m happy where I am.”).

High-performing sales teams use a great sales process to help them make key business decisions, based on the amount of “real revenue” sitting in the sales funnel. For recruiting, it might mean knowing the percentage of active candidates in the funnel who are close to making a “buy decision” (as opposed to simply knowing the number of active candidates in the pipeline). Knowing how close prospects are to making a decision can help recruiting managers better forecast the ability to meet demands from hiring managers and adjust accordingly.

A great sales process also helps sales professionals diagnose and correct any sales deficiencies at both the individual and group level. For recruiters, a defined process might offer key information related to gaps in branding or competitive knowledge.

Best-in-class Sales Processes

Great sales organizations know they can no longer depend on the “old school” styles of high-pressure sales techniques. The days of the simple, assumptive close (i.e., “Would you like that in beige or black?”) are gone.

Today’s (large business) buyers are very sophisticated. They want to know what you can do for them. They want to work with sales reps who truly know their business, offering solutions to their business problems. They are also more interested in developing strategic business partnerships with professional sales reps than they are in working with simple “product vendors.”

Hence, world-class sales processes are defined in terms of how buyers decide, rather than in terms of how “sellers sell.”  For example, if a buyer is unaware of a current business problem or “pain,” the sales rep’s job is to help that buyer identify “pain.”  The rep who immediately begins by selling a “product” or “solution” risks immediate failure. For recruiters, a temptation might be to “sell a job posting” before understanding the needs of the prospect. Remember, “no pain, no change.”

In addition, world-class sales processes include steps or stages that end with prospect-oriented outcomes. In the example above, the prospect-oriented outcome would be “pain (or business need) identified.”

To sum it up, aligning a great recruiting process with a great selling process involves: (a) thinking about your “candidate pipeline” in terms of how people make decisions, (b) setting pipeline measurements that reflect where a person is in terms of making a decision, and; (c) being able to keep the focus (first!) on the interests/needs of the candidate or prospect.

Four Levels of Business Processes

Most business processes can be categorized into four levels.

Level 1: Random Process

Essentially, each person can “do their own thing their own way.”  No single, standard process for meeting business demands.

Level 2: Informal Process

A business process is offered and employees are expected to use it; however, use is neither monitored nor measured.

Level 3: Formal Process

The company regularly enforces the use of defined business processes. Periodic reviews are conducted to gauge effectiveness. Changes are made, based on analysis.

Level 4: Dynamic Process

The company dynamically monitors and provides continuous feedback on use of formal processes. Processes are proactively modified to address key changes in market conditions; competitors; changes in regulations; shifts in the economy, etc.

10 Key Questions to Answer

Before considering aligning your recruiting process with a great sales process, here are 10 key questions to answer:

  1. Using the four levels of business processes from the previous section, where would you put your current recruiting process?
  2. How satisfied are you with your current recruiting process in terms of its ability to deliver consistent, reliable business results?
  3. What would it take to move to the next higher level? (and why would you want to move?)
  4. What factors might affect your ability to move to the next level?
  5. What is the cost of “doing nothing”?
  6. Does your current recruiting process provide you with a roadmap (in “buyers terms”) of what to do next, which leads to a higher probability of success?
  7. Do you know your current “conversion rates” (or “yield”) for each step in your process?
  8. Do you benchmark your current process, using best-in-class conversion rates (or yield)?
  9. Does each stage in your process end with a prospect-oriented outcome?
  10. How easily would your current organizational culture adapt/accept a sales process?

A Final Note …

Don’t forget the change management issues associated with any type of organizational change. People respond well to a compelling vision and plenty of support for using new skills — including new processes. So, the question remains, recruiters, “Got quota?”