This is the third installment of the multi-part blog series, "Losing Out on Talent." The previous blogs can be found below.
(Preface) Over the course of my tenure with LaunchSource, I have worked in different facets, with around 40 companies that have utilized our program to help scale their growth and make great additions to their existing sales team from an entry-level standpoint. With each company comes a unique and specific interviewing process by which they further scrutinize and screen our candidates until they find the individual that suits them best.
Ideally, that candidate sees that company as where they want to work, the paperwork is signed, and the start date comes and goes without any bumps. However, there are occasions where companies lose out on their ideal candidate(s) for reasons that are avoidable or unnecessary. Think “unforced errors.” Let’s take a look at some of the most common errors I’ve come across and ways to remedy them.
Part 3: The Offer
You’ve finalized the search. No more resumes, no more phone screens, no more interviews. You know that you next hire is in this group of finalists. If you’ve done your interviews properly, you probably have a difficult decision since most of the candidates in the final group possess a lot of the qualities you look for in a candidate. But which one is going to fill the role the best?
This can be a difficult question to answer. There are a lot of factors that determine who is going to receive an offer. Some of the most common are company size, sales team size, territory management, BDR to AE ratio, and of course, cultural chemistry! All of these are variables and, depending on a particular company or case, can be deciding factors on who fits the best.
In many hiring cases, collaboration is key. You might have your own thoughts on who’s the best fit but hearing other opinions is a great way to decipher between options A, B or C. It’s possible you missed something that someone else picked up on or another employee was able to gather more insight into the personality of the individual. Whatever the case, startups (unlike massive companies/corporations) are all about collaboration and voicing your thoughts. Utilize that to your advantage during the internal review process.
Remember, speed is key. Have this internal discussion as soon as you've chosen your finalists, and after a decision is made, communicate it with all of the candidates who made it to the finals. I'll quickly explain why this is important.
"Don't be a bad breaker-upper"
To take a quote from a classic Seinfeld episode, don’t be a “bad-breaker-upper,” as nothing's more frustrating from a candidate's perspective. By being a bad communicator, you’re committing an unforced error. Applicants who invested their time and effort into a company, only to never hear from them again after you shake hands and leave through the doors is shameful. If I were a candidate that wasn't selected, I'd want you to tell me. I don’t need a long, detailed email as to why. A simple “hey, we picked someone else” is all that’s needed so that I can continue my search elsewhere. It really doesn’t take much time and typically applicants are satisfied with a “yes/no” as opposed to a “?.” Find a way to make this a part of your process.
Breaking up gracefully is now just as important as speed of communication. Why? Because of sites like Glassdoor.com, your company could potentially lose out on the best candidates because of bad "interview reviews". Please believe me when I say millennials absolutely check this out. I speak to every one of our candidates, and all of them, especially the more experienced ones, do their research. There have been numerous times when candidates ask me about negative reviews on Glassdoor pages of companies that LaunchSource endorses. Break up gracefully and timely, and you can avoid bad reviews, and even end up with good ones!
How to Win with the Offer
Now when it comes to making an offer my recommendation might seem different than most are used to, but I’ve seen it work better than a typical email or phone call. Here it is, you ready?... Invite the potential hire in during your Thursday/Friday team debrief. Most companies LaunchSource works with have beer/wine in the office and as the weekend approaches, utilize it as a way not only to recap the week, but to build camaraderie right before everyone splits for the weekend.
To clarify: This should only be done if you are 100% sure you want to offer the candidate (or candidates) a job. This is not a final test, but instead it's a tactic to win the candidate. Unless the candidate acts like a total jerk during this time, there should be no other reason to disqualify him or her.
So why bring a potential hire in for one of these “meetings?” What better way to get a candidate pumped up for a job than to let them experience your culture first hand? Mingling on a Thursday or Friday when people are excited to start their weekend plans is going to get them more excited than having them in on a Monday or Tuesday when most employees are head-down starting their week.
Yes it might be a tad awkward at first, but most millennials are friendly by nature. Plus, we’re dealing with salespeople. Generally, they instinctively like to chat and, big shock here, most of them are accustomed to drinking socially. A good way to frame the situation for the candidate is to tell them you would like to invite them in to meet the rest of the team. Before you get into any drinks, have them mingle with the team, pull them aside to make the offer, and then feel free to carry on with your typical end of week social activities.
I understand that this isn't standard procedure for every company, but if you can adapt some aspect of it, it will help you win the candidate. The reasoning is based in psychology. You're helping the candidate see past the sale and actually making them feel like they're part of the group before they even accept. They may even accept your offer on the spot!
Making the Offer Competitive
In terms of offer details, it’s pretty straightforward. Top talent has choices and if you truly want the best, you’re going to have to sweeten the deal. Entry-level sales applicants are like free agents in sports. You want them to sign and you need to give them a reason to choose you over another.
Common notes to follow: $40k is standard base for the role*. Anything less and you better have a sweet commission package to make up for it. Anything more and you’re only increasing your chances of monopolizing the field. Variable pay packages differ between companies and average deal size. The advice here is to make it relative to experience over a 12 month period. The first 4 months are attainable, the next 4 months are challenging, the last 4 months are to see how far an individual is willing to climb.
Incentives work best in this role. It’s an obvious statement but the more benefits your company offers, the better. You might have heard millennials aren’t concerned with all this. It’s not true, we are.
*(Make sure to keep an eye on your local market rate for the BDR/SDR position)
The post-interview/making an offer stage should be the point in the process where you’re reaping the efforts put in during the phone screens and interviews. Let people know as soon as you’re no longer considering them. When making an offer, utilize it to your advantage and have the person on site to witness their interactions with the team and let them see past the sale. Hand them the offer instead of emailing a digital copy. It’s a pretty cool experience for both the hiring manager and the candidate to be a part of. You’ve just added another member to your team, now the challenge of on-boarding begins. We'll address that in Part 4 of this blog series!