Closing -- Hope is not a Strategy!

  By Chris Heinz  |    Tuesday November 30, 2021

Category: Expert Advice, Recruiting


Have you ever gone into a closing call where the only chance of them accepting is a hope and a prayer?

We’ve all been there, once or twice.  But as the old saying goes, hope is not a strategy!

You don’t want to be in a deal scenario with an offer coming from your client if you aren’t confident it will be accepted.  When your client asks you “what do you think they’ll do,” you don’t want your truthful answer to be “we’ll see” or “I hope they’ll take it.”

There are several strategies you can take to help increase the likelihood the offer will be accepted.  However, let me dispel one great myth:  you will not be perfect and every offer will not be accepted no matter how great you are.  There is only ONE way to 100% guarantee you won’t have a turndown … wait for it … never make any offers!  That is it!  Even the best recruiters in the world will have turn downs.  You can work, though, to increase the likelihood of acceptance and minimize the chance of a turndown!


STRATEGY 1:  Close early and often

Gaining acceptance on the offer should not be the climatic end of your adventure movie.  Acceptance should be the next logical step in the process.  Yes, there should be excitement and jubilation!  When they say “yes,” that should be the victory lap because you were already confident they were going to.

Each phone call/email/text should have an element of closing involved.  You should be asking questions like:

  • Has anything changed?
  • Are you excited about the opportunity?
  • Are you sure this is the right opportunity for you?
  • Where else are you interviewing?
  • If we get an offer at the agreed-upon salary (or higher) are you prepared to accept?
  • What will be the best date for you to start?
  • Is everyone involved in the decision-making process on board with the move?

Asking questions like these, among others, will help you identify potential red flags for you to address.


STRATEGY 2:  Close the company high and the candidate low

In the perfect world, you close the company at a higher compensation package than the candidate’s desired number.  In turn, you close the candidate at a lower number than the company’s target offer.  This makes for a celebratory call with an offer:  “Great news Billy!  I know you wanted an offer of $100k.  Guess what?  We are prepared to make an offer of $105k.  Congratulations!!”  Aren’t those calls wonderful?

What if these numbers aren’t aligned in a perfect scenario like above?  This is where your consultation skills come into play on both sides of the deal.  When your candidate says that their desired salary is $100k, you need to understand if that is the dream offer or the ‘line in the sand number.’  The line in the sand number is one, that if not met, you will professionally turn it down on the spot.  A different way of looking at these two is the “need” vs “want” offer amount.  I personally like asking about the “line in the sand number” because it presents a powerful visual.


STRATEGY 3:  If they counter the offer, confirm they WILL accept if you get the desired improvement AND that they will turn down the offer if they don’t

Please understand I’m not talking about them accepting a counteroffer from their current company.  I’m talking about them countering the offer you’ve presented.  

It usually goes something like “I appreciate the offer they’ve made.  I was hoping for a $5k more.  Do you think we can get that?”  Sounds innocent enough, right?  Of course, I firmly believe that you’ll never get what you don’t ask for; or it doesn’t hurt to ask.  But, asking for the sake of asking, especially if they had previously committed to you the number they needed (along with all of compensation factors -- read strategy 4), can be unprofessional and potentially make you look bad to your client.

Even great recruiters will sometimes forget these next two steps.  Make sure to ask:

  1. “I don’t know if they will go up on the offer.  But, if they do, are you prepared to accept immediately and resign from your current position?”
  2. “If they aren’t able to meet your increased request, are you going to turn down the offer we just discussed?”

Don’t go into an additional negotiation stage with your client without knowing these details.  It only makes you look bad to the client -- remember that THEY are the ones who pay you!  You want to know if this requested increase will make or break the deal.


STRATEGY 4:  Make sure you know all of the details 

An offer is not just about the salary.  There are many elements that can either make...or break an acceptance:

  • Benefits package
  • Cost of benefits
  • PTO program and flexibility within
  • Working location (remote, in-office, hybrid)
  • Title (yes, some people do care about them)
  • 401k
  • Technology provided
  • Reporting structure
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Relocation needs (if applicable)
  • And on, and on…


How do you know what will or won’t matter to your candidate?  ASK!  And, do me this little favor since we’re friends.  Don’t wait until you are about to make the offer!  

Some of this you will learn during your initial discovery call.  The majority of it you will need to specifically ask the candidate.  Ensure you know what they currently have and how much those elements matter to them. Understand what they must see in the new opportunity.  If the cost of benefits is significantly off, make your client aware so this can be offset in the offer package.  The PTO is the most important element beyond the base, know how much time they’ll need before they would turn the offer down.


STRATEGY 5:  Make sure you are closing with the right intentions

One of the great trainers in the recruiting industry, and a longtime friend, had a phrase I just love:  Don’t have commission breath!  

Don’t force a deal to go together if it isn’t right for everybody…

Don’t create a future fall-off waiting to happen just because you want this deal now…

Don’t lie about the opportunity or the elements of the package...

Help your candidate make the best decision for them, their family, and their career.  If you need to use one of the tried and true ‘closes’ of sales, whether it be the Ben Franklin or Crystal Ball or Walking Down the Street, do it to help your candidate realize that the new position is the right one for them.

These 5 strategies can help increase the likelihood your candidate accepts the position.  They can increase the chances of getting future openings with your client.  If you treat them with professionalism and respect, you can gain contact for life!  

That is even better than just the one fee you earned for them!


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