Offer calls are the tip of the iceberg of recruiting. This 15 minute call represents perhaps a hundred hours of labor. Despite being so small, it still has the chance to make an impact because — like that iceberg — it’s the last impression before the impact. Therefore, I do everything I can to push someone over the line during the call. Over the course of ~100 offer calls, I’ve found a few things that help sway a candidate in my direction.
Set the Context
The first thing I do is have the candidate call me for the initial offer. I find the transition between interview stage and offer stage to be awkward. I’ve played my hand, and now I have to wait on the candidate. When they have to call me, it subdues this feeling. They have to take that step forward; I’m not chasing them. It’s very simple, but it makes the interaction feel like it’s still part of the interview.
If I think the recruit is really good, I might add another layer and give a restrictive call window such as early AM. The logic behind this is that the most skilled employees got that way by consistently challenging themselves. A small challenge added to the offer call adds to the perceived challenge of the job.
Understand Their Intentions
Continuing in the theme of balancing that awkward shift in power towards the candidate, on the call, I like to use a clever tactic I learned from a former manager. After I’ve made the offer, I put my phone on mute to prevent the temptation to sell them on the job. When the candidate has to respond based on the details of the offer alone, I receive insight into how they really feel about the offer. If they are pragmatic and give a neutral answer, I know that my offer isn’t their first choice. It might very well mean that they have no first choice at the moment, but at least I know I have some work ahead of me. The alternative is that they show me just how excited they are to join the team. Personally, I’m the type who would ask for my company shirt in a large at this point.
Between these two temperaments, I don’t think either of them are necessarily better employees. I love people who are easily excited, but I also like working with stoics. The point of this exercise is to know where my offer stands with them. I get a sense of who will actually accept as well as who I will need to negotiate with.
Give Something for Free
The next step is interview feedback. I take my notes from our interview and I read them back over the phone. I give them a couple positive notes plus an area of improvement. I deliver this information as if I’m coaching them on how to do well in their next interview. Regardless of whether they take the offer, I want them to be better off for having interviewed with me. This is also my way of showing them how I am as a manager. I could describe my management style, but showing through interview feedback is more effective.
Out of all the managers I’ve interviewed with, the ones I remember most were the ones I learned something from. If I can teach something on the offer call, and provide them with a learning experience, I’ll have a huge advantage over my competition that’s doing the bare minimum for interviews. Based on feedback from people who have joined my team, the moment when I gave them that valuable nugget of advice is the same moment when many of them decided to accept my offer.
The last thing I do on my offer calls is share the ugly side of the offer — basically every reason why they wouldn’t want to work for me or the company. It’s a low-risk way to earn trust because if they don’t like something before they start, there’s no way they will like it after working full time for a few months.
There’s also a more subtle reason to share all my blemishes early on. By telling someone where we are really deficient, I’m pinpointing where they have a chance to grow. In my case, I was really honest about my lack of structure as a manager. Over the years I’ve had some reps create incredible elements of structure for the team in my place. I use these examples on offer calls to show that the company’s weaknesses are the best places to contribute.
There are so many different ways to run one of these calls, but the final point I try to remember is that I am their primary experience of the company. This offer call is the first opportunity to completely set aside my interview mask, so I do my best to give them a sense of me.
This guest post is from Bryan Beard, former inbound sales manager at one of the fastest scaling sales teams of all time. Bryan has extensive experience in leading a large sales development team that’s rapidly growing. If you’re dealing with a tough issue as a sales manager, chances are Bryan has had to deal with it before.
Photo taken by Lora Huber it has been modified and mirrored