Category Archives: Best Practices

We All Sell, We Are All In Sales


By Carmen Lapham, Director of Recruiting and Operations, Q4B

If anyone asks you “What do you do for a living?” how do you respond? Most people answer with their job title and their company, as in “I am the owner of VF Transport” or “I am the head of production with MQ Manufacturing” or in my case, see my info above. Nothing wrong with this type of response but on the other hand it isn’t really the answer to the question. Saying you’re the owner doesn’t mean that you “own” for a living, nor does saying you are head of production mean that you “produce “for a living.

The best answer to the question, believe it or not, is one that most people tend to avoid. We don’t want to admit that the answer is something that all of us do, day I and day out, regardless of job title and name or type of company that we work for. Even some people who do this for a living call it by some other name as though there is some stigma attached to it. And yet the answer when viewed as a career provides those who do it well the greatest opportunity to make more money than any other career choice.

So, what is this answer? The answer to the question “What do you do for a living” is “I sell, I am in sales”.

The owner of the transport company sells every hour of every day. He sells himself, his products/services, his company’s capabilities and solutions. If he doesn’t sell his company will die. The head of production at the manufacturing plant sells his ideas, his boss’s ideas, the opportunity for advancement for his team, his vision. If he doesn’t sell there will be little or no production and he will be out of a job. And, as Director of Recruiting and Operations, I sell everyday as well. I sell candidates on great career moves; I sell hiring managers on great candidates; I sell my boss and other stakeholders on new and better technology that has a better than expected ROI. I sell, I am in sales.

This is a concept that is not easy for everyone to accept. Even those who are in a sales position (recruiters included) have a difficult time saying “I sell, I am in sales.” And yes there are those who would argue that not everyone sells and use as an example those starving artists who create their art for its own sake and would never think of calling themselves salesmen. But isn’t that why they are called “starving artists”?

From my experience in the recruiting field, the one group that has the most difficult time accepting the concept that “we sell, we are all in sales” is job candidates, active or passive. Most have been told by recruiters and career coaches that as job candidates they need to be selling themselves, especially to the hiring managers; that they are the product and that their resume is their product literature; that job search is all about selling and marketing themselves. All true, but very difficult to accept.

I have a suggestion for those job seekers who struggle with the “I sell, I am in sales” concept. Instead of thinking of selling just yourself, as though you were a product, think of selling what the buyer (hiring manager) needs. Think of selling a solution to his/her problem since as we all know the only reason that a company is hiring is that they have a problem, sometimes good, sometimes bad, but a problem nonetheless. Think of selling an increase in revenue from a problem territory; an increase in collecting receivables; a better return on the investment made in a new ERP system; a quicker turnaround in invoicing; a better quality pipeline for new business; a better and more responsive customer focused web site with social media channels.

If you think of selling what the buyer needs, your chances of making the sale will be that much greater. Making the sale means that you will get the job offer. Now that is selling!

My hope is that someday, when any one is asked the question “What do you do for a living” everyone will answer “I sell, I am in sales.”

Now, are you buying any of this?


Best Practices – Create, Follow or Get Out of the Way!

A recent article in ERE Daily, Advanced Employee Referral Programs – Best Practices You Need to Copy by Dr. John Sullivan caused me to consider the term “Best Practices” and how we use it in our business.

In his award winning book, The Invisible Touch, the author Harry Beckwith suggests that “..following Best Practices quickly becomes what no business can afford: an invitation to ordinariness. Best Practices quickly become common practices. You keep waiting for other practices to emulate rather than creating your own.”

Our company’s approach with our clients is based on the idea that “one size doesn’t fit all, that no two companies are alike, that we tailor our service delivery to fit each client’s situation, needs and goals.” In other words we help them create and implement their own Best Practices for recruiting and hiring the best talent.

That being said, there are some Best Practices that Dr. Sullivan discusses in his article that are worth reviewing and adapting to your own situation.

  • The best referral programs are well-funded because they have convinced business leaders and managers on the business impact of employee referral programs.
  • The No. 1 factor contributing to poor referral-program performance is a lack of responsiveness to inquiries and referrals.
  • Second-generation referral programs often broaden the scope of who is allowed to make referrals.
  • While many top-performing programs use program rewards, rarely are financial incentives the primary motivator.
  • While traditional referral programs rely on the erratic flow of referrals subject to the whim of the employee population, many top programs use proactive components that create flow as needed.
  • The lack of a robust social recruiting strategy in most organizations means that employee networks and social media tools are often not being used effectively to support employee referral.
  • Many organizations either over-restrict the scope of their ERP or don’t provide enough program structure.
  • One of the key differentiators between average and exceptional programs is program management.
  • In recent years, employee referral programs have become the dominant source of external hires, and they deserve a level of program strategy and management commensurate with that status.

If your ERP (Employee Referral Program) is non-existent or not producing the results that you should expect, i.e. better than 30% of your hires from your ERP, then consider some or all of Dr. Sullivan’s points and give us a call. We won’t suggest that you follow or copy some other company’s Best Practices. We will help you create your own. And isn’t that what leadership is all about.