"I Do!" Design An Offer That Commences The Sales
By Lee B. Salz
The offer phase of a sales talent screening program takes
preparation and finesse. The good news is that there are many
parallels to sales that can be applied to this phase.
lengthy screening process, the hiring committee feels they have
found the right sales candidate for the company. Now comes the
tricky part, how do you design an offer and go through the offer
stage of the process without damaging the relationship with
the candidate? Damaging? Many companies are not prepared to go
through the offer step of the process and, due to that, damage the
relationship with the candidate. This leads to one of two
unfortunate conclusions. Either they lose the candidate or the
candidate comes on-board, but with scar tissue. Applying some of the
best practices from the sales world into a sales talent screening
program helps to avoid that scenario.
offer stage of the hiring process parallels the proposal phase of
sales. Best practices in sales say that you don't present a proposal
until a thorough needs analysis has been completed. If a sales
person is presenting a proposal to a prospect, he has acquired the
information needed to design a solution, has discussed budget, has a
full understanding of their solution requirements, and has set an
expectation on pricing. This is certainly the case if the sales
person is going to be successful in winning the account.
at this process in contrast to the offer stage of the sales talent
screening program, many of the same best practices from sales hold
true. During the screening program, information needs to be gathered
from the candidate to determine their financial requirements.
Unfortunately, many sales talent screening programs focus
exclusively on screening the candidate for fit, but do not consider
the needs for the offer phase of the process. This leads to a last
minute scurry to mine the information from the candidate or they
design the offer blindly. Neither of those are best practices for
the offer stage.
sales, it is said that if you are going to lose, lose early. This
prevents you from making a huge investment in a relationship that
will not generate revenue. The parallel to screening sales talent is
understanding the financial requirements of the candidate early
enough to stop the process before over-investing in the
relationship. There is no point in continuing a process with a
candidate that requires a compensation level 25% above what you can
offer. This probably seems logical, but hiring executives rarely
focus on this as a de-selection element early in the process.
like discussing pricing with a prospect, the financial needs
discussion requires finesse. The candidate knows that you are asking
questions about their financials, just like a prospect knows a sales
person is fishing for budget information. The better-skilled sales
people tell their prospects, "I don't want to waste your time by
getting you excited about a solution that will not fit in your
budget constraints…" In much the same way, this discussion can be
had with the candidate, "I don't want to excite you about an
opportunity that might not be a match for your financial needs. As
you look at making a change in position, what thoughts have you
given to your compensation requirements?" With continued finesse,
you can dig further into the mix of salary versus commission. Some
candidates may rebuff this discussion as they feel the information
will be used against them. In some instances, they are justified for
having that concern. Hopefully, that is not the case in your
company. We'll come back to this point later. The bottom line is
that the two goals of this phase are to gather information that
allow you to formulate an offer and to de-select those candidates
whose requirements exceed your financial package.
sales, the proposal phase should not be like a magic show. The
prospect should not be shocked by what is included in the proposal.
In essence, the proposal is the documentation of what has already
been discussed. No surprises. The same holds true for candidates.
The time to review the compensation plan details is not after they
are hired, or even at the offer stage. The compensation plan should
be reviewed at the point where you have a genuine interest in
pursuing the candidate and they have a complete enough understanding
of the company that they will be able to comprehend the compensation
the core requirements associated with any process is that it is
measurable. The offer phase of the sales talent screening program
should be measured statistically to determine effectiveness. The key
statistic is number of offers made versus ones that are accepted. If
the acceptance level is less than 80%, the process should be
reviewed by asking the following questions.
what point of the process are the candidate's financial
it is known that the candidate's financial requirements exceed
the package, is the candidate removed from the process?
what step is the compensation plan reviewed with the candidate?
what level of detail is the compensation plan reviewed with the
often is the initial offer to the candidate rejected, and
subsequently, negotiated successfully?
bullet in the list above ties back to my opening position about
damaging the relationship. Again, this ties back to lessons that
can be learned from sales. Many years ago, a procurement training
specialist shared a pearl about the counsel he gives to sales people
who ask about pricing strategy. He said, "Provide us with the best
pricing that you feel comfortable providing and either way you are
happy." This always puzzled sales people so he explained further.
"If you provide your best pricing and are selected, you are happy
because you won the account. If you are not selected because we
found lower pricing elsewhere, you are happy because you would not
have been happy at that price point. Again, either way you are
this when making an offer to the sales candidate. Develop an offer
based on what was learned from the candidate that represents the
best offer you are willing to make. Early in the process, tell the
candidate that you don't negotiate offers, but rather put your best
offer on the table upfront. It demonstrates a professional message
to the candidate and reduces their fear of attempts to lowball them.
When companies negotiate offers, while they may "win" the candidate,
they damage the relationship. This person is on-boarded with the
worst scar tissue of all, a lack of trust. The sales person will
always be on the look out for the company to try to cheat them.
with any component of the sales talent screening process,
preparation is the key to success. Organize your team and design a
process that achieves your desired results. This will allow you to
create long-lasting, fruitful sales marriages.
Read other articles and learn more about
[Contact the author for permission to republish or reuse this article.]