5 Sales Techniques Every Technical Recruiter Should Master

Sales Techniques Tech Recruiters Should Master

Just like salespeople, technical recruiters attempt to convince potential candidates that their company has more to offer than any other. However, while sales teams are well prepared to seduce potential customers, know how to listen to them, understand their objections and work past them, Tech HR teams can quickly feel disarmed.

Here are 5 sales techniques that every technical recruiter should master:

1. The 5 Whys Rule

“Most people think ‘selling’ is the same as ‘talking’. But the most effective salespeople know that listening is the most important part of their job.” – Roy Bartell, sales expert

Before trying to sell anything, the best sales professionals will strive to understand their prospects’ main pain points – so as to then demonstrate how their product or service is the optimal solution. The same rule applies to Tech HR. As a technical recruiter, it’s crucial that you understand what really drives your potential candidates.

The 5 Whys rule was first introduced by Sakichi Toyoda, a Japanese inventor who worked for Toyota. Toyoda theorized that in order to get to the root cause of a problem, you have to ask “why” 5 times.

For example: “Why did you leave your previous company?

Why? – I wanted to experience something new (first why)
Why? – I was bored in my previous job (second why)
Why? – I felt like there weren’t any new challenges (third why)
Why? – There was little or no time/budget allocated to improving our technical stack (fourth why)
Why? – I need to be in a stimulating environment, in a company that keeps up with technical advances, to feel professionally fulfilled (fifth why, a root cause)

In this example, if you’d have stopped and said “oh ok” to the first why, you’d have missed an important piece of information.

By keeping the 5 whys rule in mind, you’ll be able to recognize what really matters to candidates. Indeed, just as it would be a mistake to presume that only price and quality matter to potential buyers, you shouldn’t presume that salary and location are the only things that matter to potential candidates. In fact, Indeed found that the majority of employees aren’t primarily motivated by money. 21% stated that “having a good relationship” with colleagues is a deciding factor and 24% said that “enjoying the job” is what counts.

2. Don’t Be A Pushy Polly – Build A Relationship

One of the biggest challenges sales professionals face, is convincing a potential buyer without seeming too pushy. When it comes to candidates, it’s the same deal.

A lot of tech recruiters spend their time headhunting via LinkedIn, sending job offers every which way to anyone and everyone. Not only is this strategy time-consuming and provides low answer rates (ask yourself just how many developers actually answer your LinkedIn Inmails?), but it also prevents you from building relationships.

Instead of jumping straight to a job offer, focus on intermingling directly with candidates. You could, for example, organize and invite your network to a talk, a hackathon event or a webinar. You could create and send them a newsletter or interact with them regularly on social media.

3. Widen Your Scope

As a salesperson, you’re told never to dismiss a deal due to presumption and lead qualification is, therefore, essential.

In the same way, it would be wrong to dismiss a candidate that doesn’t tick all the “traditional” boxes. A good developer is someone that has a passion for problem solving and for programming – which is not necessarily easy to convey through a CV.

Some companies tend to focus too much on university degrees and working experience instead of focusing on what really matters: talent. Although, this seems to be changing. An increasing number of companies are basing their recruitment on skills. Jeff Focke, director of IT at Shealy Electrical Wholesalers, explains:

“A degree or even a certificate only shows they can learn, not necessarily what they know. It is nice, but I want to hear the rest of who the person is and what they can do.”

Every day, we see smart and talented developers dismissed as potential candidates by companies because they don’t have enough professional experience, or because they didn’t graduate from a top university – even though they’ve shown that they are among the brightest programmers.

Making coding competitions or technical testing part of your sourcing and screening processes is a great way to benchmark your candidates on a technical (thus objective) basis. It also helps you improve your employer brand by showing the developer community that you are a tech-friendly company ?

4. Be Innovative – Get Your Team Involved

Successful salespeople know their potential buyers – better than they know themselves. Sales and marketing teams will define what they call a Buyer Persona: “a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.”

In recruitment, you need to understand your Candidate Persona (or your ideal candidate) – and who better to help you than your current tech team?

Indeed, a company’s most valuable resource when hiring developers, is their own tech team. Get to know your colleagues and their way of thinking. Involve them in your recruitment process (ask them to be part of the interview process or to collaborate when writing up technical job offers, for example). You’ll soon talk the same language, understand their challenges and thus identify the best-fit candidates for the team.

Tech recruiters: include your tech teams
CodinGame’s tech team hard at work!

What’s more, if you can get your tech team involved in building a relationship with the tech community, your employer brand will get stronger.

5. It’s Not All About Selling

As much as sales is not just about getting prospects to “sign on the dotted line” (it’s also about customer service and relations), building a great tech team is not only about hiring bright and talented tech people. It is also about challenging them and making them want to stay.

Tech companies suffered from a 13.2% turnover rate in 2017 – higher than any other industry. It’s as important as ever to delight your tech teams. Whether you organize addictive, fun coding events (just like Amadeus did this week!) or you work hard to create an environment they love – make sure your tech teams are comfortable and happy.

Not sure where to start? Keeping a close relationship with every member of your tech team will help you understand what lights the fire in their belly and what’s missing from their work life. Still not sure? Ask them! Communication is key.

Historically, HR professionals focused on identifying the right talent. Applicants, on the other hand, attempted to convince HR that they were right for a position. The (decision) power was in HR’s hands.

Now, in the tech industry especially, the power balance has tipped. Most talented developers aren’t actively looking for a job. Those that are, generally have more than one offer lined up. Today’s tech talent shortage means that skilled developers can pick and choose which position or which company is the best fit for them. Technical recruiters are battling it out to land themselves the “crème de la crème”. It’s not easy – but maybe these sales techniques will give you the edge.

Are you ready to bring out the salesperson in you and toughen up your recruitment?


There’s a better way to test coding skills.

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Nathalie Figuière

Nathalie is Content Manager at CodinGame. When she's not busy creating quality #techrecruitment content, chances are she’s watching Friends or snuggling her little grey cat, Moon.