Recently I’ve had the opportunity to work with senior executives in Corporate Recruiting organizations and I learned a lot about staffing functions, technology and best practices.

As a long time Sales and Marketing executive, I was struck by the similarities between HR recruiting organizations and traditional sales and marketing functions.

Recruiters are specialized marketers and talented salespeople, only they deal with a different product – people.

Josh Bersin, Principal and Founder of Bersin by Deloitte published this article in Forbes recently on innovation in corporate recruiting and I will reflect on some of these ideas.

Specialized Roles and Teamwork

Traditional sales organizations have gravitated to specialized roles to better serve more informed buyers and increased product complexity.

Roles like product specialist, subject matter experts, business development representatives (sales lead generation), corporate account executives (inside closers), strategic account executives (outside closers) and client executives (customer success) are now common.

Aaron Ross in his book, Predictable Revenue gives a great explanation of how, and why, this approach works so well.

In the Corporate Recruiting world, leading companies generally organize around three specialized functions;

  • Candidate Development Representatives focus on finding qualified candidates (pipeline development),
  • Recruiting Managers guide the candidate through the recruiting process and “quarterback” the overall business process internally and externally,
  • Hiring Managers who lead the interview process, make the final hiring decision, and in most cases “close the deal”.

No matter what you call the role it’s all about finding and nurturing qualified candidates, working a defined and measurable process, and delivering consistent and predictable results whether it’s company revenue or great employees! 

There is also the element of teamwork. Great recruiting and sales leaders frequently communicate performance objectives, strategy and tactics. 

Daily email updates on candidate status, weekly interdepartmental briefings, quarterly business reviews, and interlocking performance objectives and compensation are just a few examples.

Creating Opportunities Where None Exist

If you work in sales for an established company in a defined market, you are no stranger to competition. Sales is a tough job and an emotional roller coaster and it’s not for the faint-hearted.

Top performers consistently create opportunity where none exists or grow seemingly small opportunities into large ones. This is what separates top sales performers from the pack of average sellers.

It’s the same in recruiting.

Only when you find a curious candidate who is “not looking” for a new job, will you have the opportunity to influence their decision criteria and legitimately tilt the playing field to your advantage. It’s a proven strategy that will separate you and your company from the competition and result in higher close rates.

To execute this strategy top performers in sales and recruiting share common traits such as:

  • They are domain experts in what they sell (i.e. products and company) and who they sell to
    (i.e. companies and people).
  • They use a defined process but make situational adjustments when necessary.
  • They leverage available tools, infrastructure and best practices.
  • They are proficient in using social networks and trusted partners.
  • They keep internal and external stakeholders engaged.

Building Highly Responsive Teams

Today, commercial buyers are self-educated thanks to the Internet. 

When buyers do engage salespeople it’s because they have unanswered questions that they cannot get answered anywhere else. They may proceed with other vendors, but they will not progress with you until they get the answers they need.

It’s the same in corporate recruiting.

When high value candidates engage with your recruiting team, they expect a high level of service, which equates to speed, accuracy and relevance in your communication.

Exceptional candidates are busy people and they expect Internet-speed answers anytime, anywhere, whether working on the job or on a family vacation.

I haven’t seen the numbers in HR, and I’m interested to hear from recruiters on their experience in candidate engagement versus response time. But, consider this amazing inbound lead management statistic from;

When responding to an inbound inquiry, a 25-minute delay in response will diminish the probability of contacting an interested buyer 100 times versus a response in 5 minutes. Additionally, the same delay will result in a 21X decrease in the qualification rate. 

See the illustration below.


The solution to this challenge is to provide your sellers and staffing professionals with quick and convenient access to up-to-date knowledge in a highly reusable format.

This builds confidence in their ability to respond quickly because the information is company “certified” via a managed sales process, marketing organization, product management or a formal sales enablement function. 

No more wasted time searching for information that may or may not be accurate.

For more about Building More Responsive Sales Teams click here.


In this article I listed three of the more obvious similarities between traditional product sales and corporate recruiting.  In my next post I’ll cover more subtle similarities like partner networks, and the importance of consistent external Brand Messaging.

In the meantime, please send me you feedback and visit for more information including a custom demo of our sales enablement and corporate recruiting solutions.

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