Sales people make excellent recruiters. Sales people have an ability to connect with people, are excellent problem solvers, think outside the box and are not afraid of picking up the phone and cold calling candidates. Below are a few principals that I picked up while working in sales that I now apply to recruiting and coach recruiters to use:

  1. Feel, Felt, Found Method
    • Principals: This method uses both empathy and social proof.
    • The feel, felt, found method gives a sales person or a recruiter a memorable framework to overcome objections. It begins by showing empathy at the feel stage, proceeds to relate the potential customer or recruit to other people who have come from a similar background and had to make a similar decision. Next, showing how the group changed their mind after making the desired choice and then ending with the recruit, now attached with the group, hopefully changing their mind in the same way as the group.
    • Example: “I understand how you feel, several of our recruiters who came from sales felt the same way. What they found is, helping people find new jobs is much more rewarding than sales and their sales backgrounds helped them to become top performing recruiters.
  2. Either Or
    • Principal: Offering two and only two options creates a false dichotomy.
    • As a recruiter, you should know the best one or two requisitions for the person you just interviewed, offer the top two job matches, rather than overwhelm them with options.
    • This works wonderfully with my toddler, I struggled for months to get her to brush her teeth. Finally, I bought her a second toothbrush, now when it’s time to brush teeth, I ask her, do you want to use the yellow or green toothbrush? She almost always chooses green. She’s not considering 3rd and 4th options (i.e. not brushing her teeth, asking for ice cream).
    • Recruiting Example: “I’m very impressed with your background and think you’d be a great fit here, would you like the 1st or 2nd shift?”
  3. Sell Benefits Not Features
    • Principal: People don’t always recognize how features will benefit them, so sell the benefits instead of the features.
    • Example: instead of “we offer part-time, full-time and casual positions” try, we can create a schedule around your classes/childcare/other job, etc.
  4. Scarcity
    • Principal: The more scarce something is, the higher the perceived value of the object is.
    • Example: This is my last full-time 1st shift position.
  5. Take Away Gambit
    • Principal: Loss Aversion. This sales technique takes advantage of the universal human reluctance to having something taken away. People are more upset about losing $10 than they are happy about finding $10. Studies show that losses generally hurt about twice as much as gains make people feel good (Khaneman, 2011).
    • This is a tough technique that recruiters and sales people are not always comfortable using, when you are trying to close a deal, it requires a complete change from the direction you are trying to take the prospective customer or recruit. For the right situation, such as a candidate who is taking too long to make a decision, it is a great tool to have.
    • Example: “If you are still unsure, then we need to consider other candidates for this role”

What other sales techniques have you used? Do you have an example of using any of the above? Please leave a comment with your experiences!


Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, fast and slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

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