Developing a Sales Candidate Communication Plan: A Step-by-step Blueprint

Just as it’s important to keep customers in the loop, sales candidate communication is also integral to recruiting. But here’s the thing. 63% of sales candidates say recruiters don’t communicate adequately, and 53% report not receiving a response until three months after applying. 

That’s a huge problem because a negative candidate experience can quickly sour what could be a valuable relationship and potentially hurt your brand reputation. Creating a positive experience through proper communication, on the other hand, makes candidates 38% more likely to accept an offer. 

In this post, I’ll explain how to develop a winning sales candidate communication plan step-by-step so you can prevent elite salespeople from slipping through your fingers and strengthen your overall brand. 

Step 1: Respond to Each Application

There’s a lot that can go awry in the application process, so sending each candidate a quick response confirming you’ve received their application is a critical first step. This doesn’t have to be anything over the top, just a brief, friendly message through email, text, or social media letting them know they’re officially part of the candidate pool. 

That way they know for sure their application successfully went through, and they can instantly tell you’re a professional that values communication. If you’re wondering how to go about this, you can use candidate engagement software like Yello to automate application confirmations and send them out in large volumes. 

This brings me to the next step.  

Step 2: Explain How Your Hiring Process Works

Another reason for responding to each application is that it gives you the chance to get candidates up-to-speed with your hiring process and what to expect. This is an effective way to get candidates acclimated and should eliminate a lot of confusion. Here’s an example. 

Here the recruiter lets the candidate know they’re reviewing their application and will contact them about the next steps if they’re deemed a good fit for the sales position. The recruiter also lets them know they may consider their application for other positions and that it could happen a few times in the recruitment process. 

On top of that, they share helpful links, allowing the candidate to assess their profile, view application updates, and visit the company’s career center where they can find additional job opportunities. 

Step 3: Communicate at Key Stages

Besides the initial response, there will be other specific intervals where you’ll want to communicate with candidates. These will vary from company to company, but here are some common stages:

  • A week or two after receiving an application reassuring a candidate it’s being looked at
  • Whenever the status of their application changes (For example, when a candidate passes the pre-screening process or is short-listed to move onto the next round of hiring)
  • When they’ve been selected to be interviewed
  • When they’ve officially received a job offer
  • When you’ve decided they’re not the right fit and have chosen to move on without them

Regardless of what happens, this will ensure there’s an open line of communication and candidates aren’t left guessing what’s happened. 

Step 4: Offer Convenient Outreach

Even when following the steps I’ve outlined so far, a portion of candidates will still have questions or concerns. When this happens, they should have a straightforward, convenient way to get in touch with your company. That’s why you should provide a point of contact in a few key locations throughout the recruiting process, such as:

  • The job ad
  • The initial response email
  • Follow up emails
  • Social media profiles
  • Your website

Note that it’s also important to respond quickly, and there are two main strategies to ensure a fast response time. One is to assign dedicated team members to handle inquiries throughout the recruiting process. Ideally, they’ll have enough bandwidth to respond within a few hours so no one’s left hanging for an extended period.

Also, I suggest using a chatbot to answer basic FAQs and point candidates to helpful resources. This is nice because it provides an instant response 24/7 while also freeing up internal manpower. One particular platform I suggest checking out is Mya which features innovative conversational AI. You can learn all about it here. 

Step 5: Seek Feedback

I’m a huge believer in incremental progress. Just like in any other area of business, a big part of improving is gathering data and using it to get better and better. So the last step in developing a sales candidate communication plan is getting feedback. This is a win-win because 1) it provides candidates with a channel for voicing their opinion which improves the candidate experience and 2) it lets you identify your strengths and weaknesses so you’ll know where adjustments should be made. 

And at the moment, this is a drastically underutilized strategy given that 75% of recruiters never or rarely ask for feedback. But considering that 68% of candidates would offer feedback if asked, this is something I highly recommend putting to use. 

The easiest way to go about it is to simply send out an email after you’ve wrapped up your recruiting, asking what candidates liked about it and where you could improve. You may also want to ask them to rate their overall experience so you have a quantifiable number to draw from. As you accumulate more data, trends will begin to emerge which can be a huge asset in the long run. 

Acing Candidate Communication 

Candidate communication is an incredibly important yet surprisingly ignored aspect of recruiting. Being a leader in this department can give you a huge competitive edge and seal the deal with more talented candidates. It’s just a matter of developing a fully fleshed-out sales candidate communication plan by following the five steps outlined above.

Looking to hire SaaS sales talent? Learn how HireDNA can help generate pre-screened interview-ready sales candidates to fill your talent pipeline.

Sales Candidates Read 6 Reviews on a Prospective Company: Using Reviews to Win the Talent War

Reviews are nothing new in the consumer world. 93% of people say they look at online reviews to inform their purchasing decision, and 91% trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. But in recent years, there’s been a trend where a growing number of sales candidates are now consulting reviews when evaluating prospective employers.

Recognizing this phenomenon and properly leveraging it can give you a huge competitive advantage and help win the talent war. Here’s how. 

At Least Half of Sales Candidates Now Read Company Reviews

Data from a 2018 study found that roughly 50% of sales candidates read online reviews about companies to learn about the working conditions, culture, and overall environment before applying for a job. While this data is fairly new, I would suspect that the number has increased even more over the last four years and is likely even higher in 2022.  

The bottom line is that a significant percentage of sales candidates turn to company reviews before applying. And it makes sense. With reviews so plentiful, candidates can quickly perform research to get a baseline reading of what it would be like to work as a salesperson with a potential employer. With a little investigating, they can determine whether the company is a good fit and if it’s a position they’d like to pursue. 

Sales Candidates Read an Average of 6 Reviews

In terms of the number of reviews candidates check out on average, it’s six. While most prospects won’t comb through pages and pages of reviews to get a feel for an employer, they’ll look at a handful to see what current employees, former employees, and job seekers have to say. So for reviews to be effective, you’ll need to have at least six (something we’ll discuss in more detail later). 

Most Sales Candidates Trust Employer Reviews 

As I mentioned earlier, 91% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and the same sentiment is shared with most sales candidates looking at employer reviews. While there’s some debate among recruiters as to how big the exact impact is, there’s no denying that reviews play an integral role in shaping the perspective of today’s sales candidates. Some would even go so far as to say that reviews are as important as the actual job postings themselves. 

This graphic below sheds light on how employer brand affects recruitment.

The main stats that stand out to me are:

  • 90% of candidates will apply for a position when the employer actively maintains their brand
  • 50% of candidates won’t work for a company with a poor reputation, even it means better pay
  • 62% of candidates say their first impression improves if an employer responds to a negative review

This brings me to my next point. 

How to Use Employer Reviews to Your Advantage

Let’s recap. We’ve established that company reviews are critical for recruiting in 2022 and beyond, at least half of sales candidates read them, and each candidate reads an average of six reviews. So how can you capitalize on this trend?

Here are my three main suggestions.

First, you should get serious about obtaining reviews from current employees, former employees, and job seekers. You don’t necessarily need a huge volume of reviews. So you don’t have to worry about getting hundreds or even dozens. But having at least six can go a long way for improving your recruiting and should supply sales candidates with the information they need to make an informed decision. 

I recommend starting with your current employees and asking them to leave a review on your website, Glassdoor profile, Indeed profile, or whatever platform you’re using. From there, you can reach out to former employees — ideally, those who went out on good terms. And when you follow up with candidates after an interview, this is a good opportunity to get feedback from job seekers. 

HubSpot is a great example of a company that knocks it out of the park with its reviews. They have a dedicated careers page on their site where they offer brief clips of actual employees talking about what it’s like working for them. For instance, they discuss what it’s like to work remotely at HubSpot and what makes a career in sales at the company unique. 

Next, make a concerted effort to maintain your brand by following best practices, including:

  • Establishing a presence on review sites like Glassdoor and Indeed
  • Keeping company information up-to-date
  • Updating salary and benefits information 

Third, be sure to promptly respond to negative reviews. With nearly two-thirds of candidates saying they have a better first impression if a company responds to a negative review, this shows you’re concerned with the candidate experience and it can minimize any harm to your reputation. Do that and you should be in pretty good shape. 

Using Reviews to Win Over Top Talent

Technology is deeply infused into the modern recruiting process, with online reviews being a prime example. While having reviews was more of a “nice addition” in previous years, we’re at a turning point where it has basically become essential. By properly leveraging reviews and getting sales candidates up to speed on what your company is like and what’s good about it, you can persuade more top talent to apply. This, in turn, should increase the quality of your talent pool and help you ultimately win over elite prospects to improve your bottom line. 

To further enhance your recruiting and find top talent using science-based assessments and intelligent matching, check out HireDNA. 92% of candidates recommended by it reach the top of their sales force within their first year, and it eliminates 96% of hiring mistakes.