Recruiting Passive Sales Candidates Requires Up to 17 Touchpoints: Tactics for Winning Over Elite Talent

When most people think of sales recruiting, they envision going after traditional active candidates — individuals that respond to a job ad or reach out to you. But some of today’s most successful sales recruiters are those that seek out passive sales candidates — individuals who aren’t actively looking for a new job but would be open to the right offer.

According to research, passive sales candidates account for as many as 75% of professionals and often end up being the best team members. However, landing these rockstars isn’t always easy and requires several touchpoints. Up to 17 to be exact.

Let’s now unpack this phenomenon and explain how you can win over elite talent.

Passive Recruiting According to an Expert

In an interesting article, job description optimization software Ongig talks about an interview they had with a talent acquisition leader at a Fortune 500 company. “Some candidates are worth the time,” they write. “Their team has to make 17 touches to recruit passive candidates.” And to clarify, “by ‘touches,’ she is referring to 17 outreach activities it takes to close a passive candidate.”

Here’s an exact breakdown of the specific touchpoints they use.

Now are every single one of these touchpoints necessary to land a passive candidate? No.

And is this the exact sequence you should follow at your company? Perhaps not.

The point here is that recruiting passive sales candidates is more involved than many people think, and it’s something you need to have a strategy for. After all, many passive sales candidates already have cushy jobs and make good money. They know their value and aren’t in a rush to find new opportunities.

Therefore, most won’t jump at the first thing that comes along. Instead, they need to be nurtured — wooed if you will. This brings me to my next point.

Treating Recruiting Like Sales

Another thing I like about the article from Ongig is that they mention that “recruiting is no different than sales,” and “sales trainer Grant Cardone has some interesting related data: he claims that 95% of closed sales happen between the 3rd to 12th touch.” That really struck a chord with me, as I completely agree.

You can’t throw up a single piece of marketing collateral and expect leads to buy right off the bat. It’s a process that requires delicate nurturing where you gradually build rapport with a lead, get them comfortable with your brand, and address their concerns before they’re ready to buy. And it’s basically the same when recruiting passive sales candidates.

So I think having this mindset is the first step in winning over elite talent. I suggest borrowing from the sequence of touchpoints mentioned above and using that as a basic formula. You can, of course, customize it as you see fit and make adjustments as you go.

Besides that, here are some other helpful tactics.

Use a Sales Recruiting Platform

Recruiting technology has come a long in recent years and can be a huge asset for connecting with passive candidates. One particular type of technology that’s helpful is a sales recruiting platform like HireDNA. With it, you can engage passive candidates that match your criteria and tap into a national network of the top sales recruiters to fill your pipeline.

Rather than spending a ton of time manually seeking out passive candidates, HireDNA automates the process for you. That way you can focus on your core business activities rather than sales recruiting. And to make the experience even more convenient, HireDNA will screen each candidate and evaluate their core selling skills to ensure they’re a good fit for your specific sales environment.

From there, qualified candidates will be delivered right to your inbox for final approval and you can set up an interview.

Be Active on LinkedIn

With 875 million users in 2022, it’s the number one social media site for professional networking. And it’s a potential gold mine for meeting and engaging with passive sales candidates that could be strong assets to your company. That’s why I recommend being active on LinkedIn and always being on the lookout for great talent.

The more robust your network is, the more sales professionals you’ll be in contact with. And if you find someone that looks like the right fit, you can pounce on the opportunity right away.

Set up a Careers Page on Your Website

I’m a firm believer in letting elite talent come to you rather than always being the one pursuing talent. Just like a sales recruiting platform automates much of the process, so does having a careers page on your website. Here’s the logic.

Say a talented sales rep who wasn’t officially seeking a position came across your site. After being impressed by your product/service and overall brand, this could pique their interest to check out what it’s like working for you. Then, after browsing through your careers page, they notice you have an open position that’s right up their alley. This could compel them to apply without you having to lift a finger. Rather, high-quality talent comes right to you by having a recruiting funnel in place.

HubSpot is a great example of a brand that uses this strategy.

And it’s something that can work for you as well.

Recruiting Passive Sales Candidates

With as many as three-quarters of professionals being passive sales candidates, this is an aspect of recruiting that shouldn’t be overlooked. I personally found it interesting that this can require up to 17 touchpoints, which is why it’s important to have a fully fleshed-out formula to nurture passive candidates until they’re ready to commit. That along with implementing a few key strategies can help you fully capitalize on this potent form of recruiting and increase the strength of your sales team.

To see HireDNA in use and understand its full range of benefits, go ahead and schedule your demo today. 92% of suggested candidates go on to reach the top of their sales force within a year.

60% of Candidates Ditch the Application Because it’s Too Long or Complex: How to Simplify the Job Application Process

Say there’s an ultra-talented salesperson who found your job posting and is highly interested. They begin filling out the application and are chomping at the bit to enter the candidate pool. But after being bombarded with questions and encountering needless complexity, they ditch it without ever completing it. This happens more than you may think, which is why it’s crucial to simplify the job application process.

Here’s how to do that.

Putting Yourself in an Applicant’s Shoes

Time is valuable. And while most applicants don’t mind answering a few questions to provide essential information, it’s another story when you’re talking about question after question. Or, if they have to provide excessive personal information that isn’t really necessary at this point in the hiring process, create an account to log in, or generally be hassled by needless complexity, most will quickly sour.

To quantify, a study found that 6 out of 10 salespeople will ditch an online job application when they feel it’s too long or complex. And, it’s important to note, that some industry experts say this rate may be conservative. While we may never know the exact number, it’s safe to say that a large percentage of great candidates are lost every day simply because of long-winded or overly complex online job applications.

Therefore, fixing this issue should be a top priority for sales recruiters. Here are some specific ways to simplify the job application process.

Keep an Application to 5 Minutes Max

Let’s start with the obvious. First, you’ll want to reduce the length of time it takes to fill out an application.

According to a study that tracked half a million job seekers completing online job applications, “recruiters can boost conversion rates by up to 365% by reducing the length of the application process to five minutes or less.”

Five minutes should be the absolute maximum amount of time it takes, as there’s likely to be a sharp drop-off if it goes longer than this. But how exactly do you go about that?

I like the advice that talent management systems manager of the Pulte Group Tiffani Murray offers. She says, “ask yourself what kind of information you really need upfront to decide if you want to move candidates to the next step. You need their name, contact information, and a resume or LinkedIn profile. If you have an application process that is five or six screens deep and a candidate is filling it out on a smartphone (86% of candidates use this device), in many cases they’ll drop off.”

Remember, you have plenty of time to have shortlisted candidates elaborate on their qualifications and experience later on. The initial goal is simply to gather the essentials so you can filter through applicants.

Offer Autofill

Another common annoyance that turns many applicants off is having to fill out contact information and work history manually. Having to enter the same data over and over again can be incredibly frustrating and quickly adds minutes to the process. Fortunately, there’s innovative technology that can eliminate this time-consuming step.

Autofill grabs key information that’s been previously entered like name, email, address, and phone number, and automatically inputs it in a form so an applicant doesn’t have to. Rather than having to meticulously go through the process of entering information one at a time, an applicant can input everything with a single click or tap.

As for specific software for enabling autofill, one of my favorites is ExactHire, which allows you to quickly and painlessly set up autofill without requiring a login for applicants. This brings me to my next point.

Never Require a Candidate to Create an Account or Ask for References

One mistake I refer to as “the kiss of death” for sales recruiting is requiring a candidate to create an account, as this can instantly kill any momentum you’ve gained so far. And even the most engaged, highly interested candidate will likely bail at the sight of this. Therefore, I suggest avoiding this at all costs, as you’re likely to have countless elite talent slip through your fingers.

Also, asking for references right off the bat can be a serious roadblock to candidates completing an application. Again, I like what Tiffani Murray has to say about this. “Why not wait to ask for references when you reach the offer stage? You don’t need to add that information burden to candidates when a high percentage won’t make it to an offer.”

Automate Candidate Screening

Finally, I’d like to point out that cutting-edge software is now available that allows you to automate candidate screening using data science to match candidates to the role, culture, desired experience, and skills. HireDNA, for example, assesses a salesperson’s core selling skills and capabilities to ensure that they align with what you’re looking for.

While this doesn’t apply directly to streamlining the job application itself, it greatly optimizes the overall hiring process and increases the chances that only the best of the best will apply. In terms of success rate, companies that use HireDNA to automate candidate screening go on to have 92% of suggested candidates reach the top of their sales force within a year.

Simplify the Job Application Process for a Win-Win

While you certainly want to get enough information to get a baseline reading of a salesperson’s knowledge and experience, you should avoid going overboard with needlessly lengthy or complex applications. After all, this is merely the first step where you begin filtering through applicants to decide who moves on to the next round.

With data proving that at least 60% of candidates will bail with a long, drawn-out application process, it’s important to work out any kinks. Fortunately, this is relatively easy to do by keeping the application to a max of five minutes, enabling autofill, not requiring candidates to create an account, and not asking for references. Further, you can streamline things even more by automating candidate screening with a platform like HireDNA, which you can request a demo for here.