The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

When I set Sterling up over 5 years ago, I was constantly asked: “What is that makes Sterling different from every other recruiter out there?” My sole response was that I would be blunt, totally transparent and tell people the truth always, even if that truth might hurt.

Now, five years on, the one thing I hear constantly is that people are grateful for my candour and outright honesty when working with us.

I remember an interview that I had arranged once – it was the middle of a Brisbane summer, at least 35 degrees. My candidate had to rush from one end of the CBD to the other – not leaving enough time to compose himself, he arrived just on time and greeted the interviewer with a sweaty composure.  There was no coming back from that, it did not matter how well he conducted himself in the interview first impressions count and it was a bad one.

Instead of telling him that there was “no cultural fit” or other widely used excuses I instead told him the full truth of why he did not get offered the position. He was embarrassed, but he understood it and was grateful for the truth. Four days later, he took my advice, got an uber to the interview, was there in time to make sure his attire was sharp, had a dry hand, and the rest is history. He phoned me when he got the job just to say thanks.

It is not just candidates that Sterling are frank and honest with about sales recruitment. We will always challenge our clients, we will tell clients their reputation in the market, what candidates think of them, and what some of their challenges might be to attract the best sales professionals. I remember once telling a client that his company had a reputation of being “cowboys” (I was trembling at the time, convinced he was going to throw me out of his boardroom) but instead, he took it as a badge of honour, was pleased that the reputation matched what he wanted to achieve, he wanted to be seen as hardworking, a little rough but determined to succeed.

Clients will often have a very set, rigid idea as to what they want in a BDM or Account Manager, what skills they MUST have. Sterling will challenge that – a lot of the time, the MUST haves turn out to be NICE to have, and the nice to have are not needed at all.

For me, a large reason as to why sales recruitment fails for a lot of companies is that there is not enough honesty from the get-go. Most recruiters have a budget above their head to achieve and as a result, will do whatever it takes to get the placement done – the sale across the line. I am certainly not going to paint a role out to be perfection and employment utopia when it absolutely is not the case. We will promote both the good and the not so good aspects of a role. The same goes for a client when describing a candidate. When working for others, I would talk at the speed of sound trying to “ram” a candidate down a client’s throat, insisting they saw the person that same day. A much better approach is to outline the reasons as to why I think the two parties to meet, but at the same time give an honest explanation, and not be ashamed to mention one or two faults that the candidate may have. So far, the truth seems to pay dividends, even if it costs the odd placement, I am sure it will result in more success for clients, candidates, and Sterling Sales Recruitment also.