More Offer Closing Ideas

I received a number of follow-up ideas from readers as a result of my article in January on how to improve offer acceptance. Here are some of the best: Eric Lane, Intuit From Eric Lane, Silicon Valley recruiting guru and director of executive staffing at Intuit:

  • Find out about “family” needs. Find a way to talk to the spouse or significant other to discover and address their issues, providing the answer for your candidate to “take home.”
  • Have the CEO call before (or after) the offer. People want their job to make a difference. They want to be critical to the firm’s success. However they frame it, they want to be where the focus is, and nothing sends that message more than the CEO’s involvement. Not to sell, just to say, “This is on my radar screen (and therefore so are you).”
  • Have an employee friend explain why they like it at your company.
  • Create an “unexpected” surprise. Offer something that wasn’t discussed (or point out something discussed but not highlighted). For example, “By the way, facilities would want to talk to you about designing your team’s space as early as possible. You’ll be in the new building.” Done only for effect, this will feel contrived. But done to truly create a, “Wow, that’s cool!” response can work if you don’t overplay it.
  • Go to the candidate to make the offer in person. Sometimes, particularly when a person isn’t sure if they are doing the “right thing” leaving their current situation (usually because of loyalty), setting a time and place where they feel comfortable to make the offer can send the right message. I only use this approach on candidates I sense want to come but are hesitant to leave friends and colleagues behind. Showing a sense of new collegial style and ability helps them believe it won’t be hard to re-establish.
  • Give positive feedback about their references. Especially as it relates to how well the references said, “Oh, that’s a perfect position for this person”. This is a subtle way to demonstrate that former (and often respected) bosses and coworkers believe in the match.
  • “Negotiate” as a last resort. Set an agreeable tone even as you begin working on the elements of the package. Too often, the change of tone from “let’s see what works” to “Okay, now let’s get down to business” shakes the rapport established throughout the recruiting process.
  • Most importantly…listen! Don’t talk, don’t sell, don’t hype. Just ask how things are going “compared to your other alternatives,” or, “How do you feel about where this is all headed?”. I ask for “feelings” or “thinking” depending upon the candidate’s approach to decision making (as I perceive it).

The bottom line: Identify needs, wants, and wishes from the very first contact, and help connect the dots between what is possible in your environment and those things. Make sure you believe it though; because if you don’t, you’re probably making bad placements ó or working for the wrong firm. Mark Mehler, Careerxroads From Mark Mehler, one half of the dynamic duo at CareerXroads. The main reasons I have found that candidates refuse offers are:

  • Poor work by the recruiter
  • Not meeting the jobseeker expectations on salary and relocation
  • The new boss is a jerk (here, there is not much the recruiter can do).

Good recruiters find out all of the objectives and objections of the job seeker in the first phone screen. Other Suggestions Some other miscellaneous tips I left out due to space limitations:

  • Give managers side-by-side offer comparison sheets that contrast what you have (as a firm) compared to each of your other major competitors.
  • Offer an “exploding offer” in which a large sign on bonus is offered. If the offer is not accepted right away, the bonus continually decreases over the next few days.
  • Calculate multi-year projections of “where they’ll likely be” in their job and financially in three years if they join your firm.
  • Pre-test the offer on people in similar positions, recruiters, and other experts to make sure it’s in the ballpark.
  • Ask the candidate periodically during the process, “Are we close?”
  • Involve others in getting them to say yes, including your employees that know them, consultants, and mutual friends.
  • Treat the closing process like a car salesperson. Ask them, “What is it going to take to get you in this job?”
  • When you check references, be sure to sell the firm to them in case they later bounce their offer choices off their references (who are often close acquaintances and advisers).
  • Ask each of your hires for copies of their offer letters from other firms in order to determine where you’re competitive and where you are not.
  • Have the CEO personally attach a handwritten note to the offer.
  • Interview them and make a decision on whether to hire them on the same day. Then ask them to make a decision before they leave your site.
  • Spend at least half of your time during the interview selling the candidate.
  • Only let people with the best “sales skills” sit in on your interviews.
  • Offer to hire their best friend, mentor, or spouse, and let them work together.
  • Reward managers, recruiters, and the entire team for great hiring.

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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