News and advice for software sales professionals and employers.

Selling The Opportunity And Creating An Effective Interview – 7 Challenges Series

For the second installment of our series “The Seven Biggest Challenges Facing Hiring Managers Today”, we want to look at the challenges hiring managers face in selling the opportunity and setting up an effective interview, after they find a pool of qualified candidates. If you missed part 1 of the series, we discussed “How to find and source good candidates.”

The first challenge hiring managers face after finding qualified candidates is selling the opportunity.

Selling the opportunity to candidates is a two-part process: how the job is portrayed in the job description (or advertisement), and how it’s sold in a live/face-to-face conversation.

With job descriptions meant to be used as advertisements, the most common mistake is focusing on “qualifiers” instead of the juice or sizzle of the opportunity. Don’t fall into this trap! Because people won’t put a lot of faith in fuzzy selling points such as “we have great people” and “we’re the best at what we do!” unless specific data points back that up, the more concrete examples or specific numbers the better. Here is a quick list of things a salesperson wants to know when examining a job description/ad:

  1. Is it a professional sales position, including a guaranteed salary? “Potential to make six figures” sounds gimmicky.
  2. What does the company do? If not obvious, what is the offering (product or service)?
  3. Sizzle: What makes this product/service better (and hence easier to sell) than the competition’s product/service?
  4. Sizzle: What has been the company’s (or specific group or product) pace of growth the past 3-5 years?
  5. Sizzle: What growth opportunities exist within the company?

The last item on the ad/job description should be the qualifications. Be direct, firm, and specific about what you are looking for.

The “pitch” in the face-to-face meeting is just as important and requires some preparation. In addition to the examples of sizzle above, you should be prepared to articulate specific examples that will whet their appetite (e.g. earnings of top reps, lead generation systems, how product/service delivery is stronger than the competition, who has been promoted and in what time frame).

Also, be prepared to discuss why you joined the company, and what you like most about it. Much of the pitch comes from you giving them the feeling that the position is sought after by many (difficult to get the job), and that you will interview at least a handful of people, based on screening tons of resumes. This helps address their natural human desire to feel they are “winning” something if they get this job.

The second challenge is to establish how long to make the interview process.

Often we are asked, how many interviews are ideal? In strong job markets, hiring managers always seem to make this process too short. Often I’ve had hiring managers attempt to make offers and close after only one interview. In tougher job markets, hiring managers do the opposite—taking entirely too long and losing the best candidates. My rule of thumb for the number of interviews: 2 minimum, 4 maximum; 2-3 is ideal for total meetings. But whether the process is condensed to 2 meetings, or spread over 3-4, ideally the candidate will meet with/be interviewed by 3-4 total individuals from the company. Except in highly unusual circumstances, this process should take not less than 1 week or more than 3 weeks.

Don’t forget to come back in the coming weeks when we address “How many candidates are ideal for each position?” and take an in-depth look at the best approach for a successful interview.