Can you teach someone to sell?


Most of the positions I’m recruiting for require this strange hybrid of technical skill / knowledge while being able to close deals.  That’s right, I need technical Tier 3 help desk types with all the appropriate certifications that want to earn commission and don’t mind cold calling.


Nobody said it was going to be easy.           


It does create some interesting conversations with my hiring managers.  One argument is that we can “teach” the technical aspect.  Get motivated, sales minded people who don’t mind getting their certifications and have a passion for technology.  The other side of that is, no way – gotta know what they’re talking about.  Can’t put them on the phone without this base of knowledge.  I understand the concern, but it still begs the question – can you teach someone to sell?


Can you teach someone to recruit?


Recruiting is, after all, a sales job.  Anyone who thinks otherwise probably stinks at it.  It is not just “finding people”.  It’s getting people to exchange something of value for what you are offering.  In recruiting it’s their time and talents in exchange for a paycheck.  Still a sale.  So what personality traits need to exist to make someone a good salesperson and/or recruiter?  More importantly, can you teach them?


The best recruiters I’ve ever worked with have had some key things in common. They are:   

Self-directed.  Great recruiters (or sales people for that matter) don’t wait to be told what to do.  Sometimes they don’t even wait to be told how to do it.  J  That doesn’t mean we’re all renegades out breaking policy left and right, but we certainly aren’t going to sit around waiting for permission to pick up the phone.  If we don’t know something we’ll seek out the answers.  I used to have an old Estonian proverb on my wall; it read “The work will teach you how to do it”.  And it does.


Motivated by results.  As I’ve mentioned before, great recruiters are focused on the prize.  While the process is important, the end result is where it’s at.  We’re always looking for the win.


Handle rejection well.  Not everybody wants to buy what you’re selling.  Some candidates are going to think your company is a circus and wouldn’t refer their worst enemy.  Or your pay is too low.  Or the job duties suck.  The list goes on… Great recruiters dust themselves off and pick up the phone again.  Don’t even get me started about what my 3rd party brothers and sisters have to endure!  You just keep picking up the phone.


Organized.  Sometimes my desk looks like a tree threw up on it.  I still know what’s going on with all my reqs and active candidates.  A great recruiter’s organizational methods may not make sense to anyone else, but they should know what’s going on and what needs to happen next.


Honest. Your lies will find you out.


What would you add to this list?

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