Is Recruitment Sales? – Nicole Plinston

I recently attended a sales industry awards judging day as a nominee. It was an interesting experience, but what has stuck with me most from the process is the perception that recruitment isn’t sales.

Having worked in both recruitment and sales throughout my career I’d like to think I’m relatively well placed to express my opinion, in that recruitment is sales.

For any part of the recruitment process where human interaction is required, key sales skills are being used, whether that be with candidates or clients.

Here are just a few examples:

The best talent will usually have more than one opportunity available to them. It’s a recruiter’s role to ‘sell’ why their opportunity is the right one. A good recruiter will match the role to the candidate’s needs & wants. They’re only able to do this if they’ve accurately uncovered what those needs & wants are… through rapport building, effective questioning, probing, qualifying, testing commitment, and most importantly, listening.

But it doesn’t stop there. The recruiter then has to match the candidate’s skills, experience & characteristics to the client’s needs and wants, and ‘sell’ to the client why this candidate is the right person for their position and their business.

Recruiters also have to create urgency to make interviews happen. Everyone is busy, so influencing skills are needed by a recruiter to get the candidate in front of the client as quickly as possible.

Recruiters frequently have to negotiate. The candidate wants ‘x’ salary and the client wants to pay ‘y’. It’s the recruiter’s responsibility to ensure a win-win outcome is achieved for both parties. A client doesn’t want to pay 25% when they work with other recruiters at 15%. It’s down to the recruiter to demonstrate their worth, ‘sell’ why their service is superior to others, and then negotiate to achieve the best possible outcome for both parties.

A recruiter has to get clients from somewhere too! New business development aka ‘sales’, is a must if they want to be successful. A good recruiter will master account development and increase the success rate with each client they have, generating more business through service delivery, ‘up-selling’ & ‘cross-selling’.

Networking plays a huge part in recruitment today. Referrals also play a huge part in the success of a recruiter. These things don’t just happen. We are in a crowded, competitive market. To be successful and stand out, a recruiter has to be able to ‘sell’ themselves, their expertise, and their company.

And finally – a recruiter isn’t just selling to 1 customer in each transaction – they are selling to 2 – the candidate and the client. Surely this therefore means that recruitment is actually one of the most challenging sales roles out there, especially with the product being ‘people’…

Anyway, that’s just my opinion, what’s yours?

Nicole Plinston

Co-Founder and Training Director