Improve Candidate Generation with an Age-Old Sales Strategy

The state of hiring in the tech field in recent years has been defined by a deep skills shortage and fierce competition for a small pool of available talent. For IT staffing firms, this presents an enormous challenge, as rival firms and hiring managers are constantly calling and emailing the same developers, architects, and analysts. So, how does a recruiter break through this clutter, grab an IT pro’s attention, and improve candidate generation? The answer lies in applying an age-old business development sales strategy to your recruiting approach.

Study Successful Target Account Programs

Those who have spent time working in sales might be familiar with the strategy behind Target Account Programs. At the core of TAP success is the idea of persistence. Once decision makers/prospects are identified, planning out multiple touches over a span of time builds a relationship and eventually elicits a positive response from that target audience.

Traditionally, a sales TAP model is centered around a main theme and involves weekly drop-offs of inexpensive, branded items over the span of five or six weeks. After these touch points, the strategy culminates in a final gift that, in order to be received, requires the prospect to take a certain action. For example, in July a salesperson might enact a TAP campaign surrounding a “Summer Beach” theme. Over five weeks, they will take or send branded items like beach balls, sunscreen, sunglasses, and towels to their prospect. In the sixth week, they will offer that prospect a nice cooler filled with many more fun items if the prospect agrees to come into the office for a meeting.

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Transform Them Into Target Candidate Acquisition Programs

At its heart, TAP strategy in sales can work in recruiting because selling a service to a client is not drastically different from selling a role (or your staffing firm) to a tech professional. Begin by identifying and geotargeting potential candidates that have the specific skill set you’re looking for. Today, we have a host of tools at our disposal for identifying a “buyer,” and utilizing your ATS to its fullest potential will be a big help. Leveraging social media can also go a long way in identifying candidates to place in the program who otherwise would have gone unnoticed. Sponsored Facebook or LinkedIn campaigns along the lines of “Like our page to receive a free gift!” can be valuable resources for obtaining additional names and contact information.

Next, create a theme and brainstorm all the fun giveaway items that would potentially interest and attract your group of target candidates. Should you need help, consider asking similar talent who you already work with what they would be receptive to. Just as important, create very specific messaging that will accompany these items and speak directly to this audience’s pain points and how you or your staffing firm can solve them. A candidate’s perception will start forming immediately, and strategically planning the candidate experience beginning with the first point of awareness is critical. To this end, combining fun items with inbound marketing efforts such as informative blog posts or ebooks can show that you’re a trusted industry figure who knows how to support that candidate.

Now comes the fun part: it’s time to put things in motion and start getting those promo items into the hands of your audience. Most likely, it will be impossible to deliver these items in person as you can’t very well show up to a passive candidate’s current office or walk through the front door of an active job seeker’s house. If you have an address, you’ll of course be able to mail things, and if you don’t have one you can begin with offering a $5 egift card in exchange for that address. Depending on what items you decide on, you could have them all available digitally.

Incentivize the Final Step

In sales we know we have to provide value to prospects and a reason for them to act. The same holds true for tech candidates. A great job, moving their career forward, and better pay are all certainly valid reasons for a candidate to partner with your staffing firm. The problem is, in a field like IT where open roles vastly outnumber available candidates, talent is seeing similar incentives from many firms. It takes differentiation to get their attention and capture their interest.

After five or six weeks of building a low-pressure relationship and trust with a candidate, it’s time to close the deal. Offer up a final gift, something better than all the other promo items combined, and require the candidate to come in for an interview, attend your networking event, or refer a viable friend in order to receive it. This is the cherry on top of what should already have been a great experience, and ideally that candidate will be wooed to the point they cannot say no. Incentivizing the final step is the crux of the entire strategy, and its importance cannot be understated.

Improve Candidate Generation with a Sales Mentality

The same old recruiting strategies will, at best, produce the same old results. Looking to adjacent departments like sales can provide the spark needed to reignite your candidate pipeline. If you’ve never worked in sales, take a few minutes to talk to your client-facing sales team about what strategies work for them and how they could be adapted for candidate-facing recruiting. While approaches like TAP certainly have a cost attached, the ROI when even one candidate is acquired and placed will be well worth it.


Kevin O'Brien

Kevin O'Brien
Kevin O'Brien is co-founder of echogravity, a marketing agency that focuses on inbound marketing services for staffing agencies. He can be reached at kevin (at) echogravity (dot) com.

Kevin O'Brien

Amy Bingham

Amy Bingham
Amy Bingham, managing partner of Bingham Consulting Professionals LLC, advises staffing firms in the area of sales effectiveness through strategic planning, strategy execution and performance coaching.

Kevin O'Brien

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