3-minute read

Many companies are debating the merits of two completely opposed sales strategies: an automated, high-volume approach vs. a more customized, boutique-style approach. In many cases, the latter is key to being successful. There are some lessons here for the world of executive recruitment.

Quality Beats Quantity 

The cold-calling approach popular since the early 2000s is less and less effective today. We’re all approached multiple times each week on social media, by email or on the phone by companies trying to sell us products and services, and we pay them little attention.

Companies are now looking for new ways to generate leads and grow their client base. The challenge is similar for recruiters: it’s not about having as many candidate names in your database as possible, it’s about ensuring candidates have the right profile.

Recruiters are searching for people, which entails many intangibles and hard-to-measure factors. It’s difficult to match candidates and employers simply by using an algorithm. 

You need to understand the candidates’ personalities well enough to identify those who will be a good fit for the position to be filled.

That’s why, as in some sales fields, recruitment – especially at the management and executive levels – requires a highly personal touch, including face-to-face meetings. 

You Can’t Manufacture Human Capital

When weighing up what kind of sales strategy to adopt, what matters isn’t the size of the business. A small company could sell thousands of units per month online, as long as it has the means to make them. It’s a question of capacity. 

In the recruitment world, the “product” is human capital. You can’t simply manufacture more of it, so you can’t rely on a purely volume-based approach. 

At Strato, our production capacity is limited. Our executive recruitment business aims to identify candidates with highly specific skill-sets. That means we have to generate a sufficient volume of candidates in order to grow while keeping a personalized approach. It’s a mix of the two sales strategies.

How exactly does that work? To generate lists of potential candidates, Strato uses its networks as “antennas” to pick up information on the market. This takes care of the volume angle. 

The customized approach involves assessing candidates to determine whether their profile suits the company. This evaluation is based on two key elements:

  • Aspirational fit: What is the candidate’s career development plan for the next five years? What are the company’s expectations? Is it the right person at the right point in their career? 
  • Personality fit: Strato determines whether the candidate has the right traits for the company based on a series of specialized questions, psychometric tests, etc.

From the Hard Sell to the Soft Sell 

In the sales world, many companies are shifting from an aggressive hard-sell approach to a soft sell aimed at building relationships and turning customers into long-term partners.

In the recruitment field, it’s likewise vital to emphasize this approach. We call it a “partnership experience” rather than a “customer experience,” because a customer is someone you sell to once and then it’s done. A partner is someone with whom you build their business.

I’ve never tried to sell anything to a prospective client, whether over the phone, by email or in person. The goal of the initial approach is to find out if we’re a good match for the company and whether we can offer enough added value to pursue the relationship further and fulfill the mandate.

In today’s era of big data and analytics, there are digital tools available that facilitate automated searches and algorithm-based matching. But just as the sales world is realizing that a more customized approach may be needed to set yourself apart from the competition, employers need to personalize their recruitment strategies to be successful.

This kind of personalized, partnership-focused approach requires more time and effort, however. For companies without sufficient in-house resources, we can help by providing a list of potential candidates that’s both comprehensive and customized.


About the Author

Before joining Strato’s executive recruitment team, Nicolas Pallares held sales and management positions in the distribution (B2B and B2C), manufacturing and IT sectors for a dozen years, then started his own company with two partners in the entertainment industry. Today, he draws on these diverse experiences to match executives and managers with the right companies, especially SMEs, based on a client experience-centred approach.


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