How to Close Your Top Sales Candidate

The following is an excerpt from The Bridge Group’s latest eBook – The Sales Hiring Hourglass.

Take a look at some of the most highly rated employers on Glassdoor, and you’ll notice a common thread: their interview processes are lean. Many run, from soup to nuts, in just two weeks. If you want A-players to choose you, you need to move quickly. Here’s my (admittedly aggressive) timeline:


It’s fourteen days from application to offer.

I prefer the offer to come from either the CEO or the VP of Sales—as high as you can go. This is a final opportunity to make the candidate feel special. Just like with job descriptions, add some personality and sizzle to the offer letter. It is a sales tool, and until the candidate signs on the dotted line, you are still in selling mode.

Here’s four reviews taken off of Glassdoor. Notice two things. One, initial contact to offer accepted was fast. Two, the hiring process was structured and run like a sales process. That’s what you’re looking for.


Beyond Offer Accepted

Having an offer accepted shouldn’t be thought of as marking the opportunity Closed Won. At best, it’s nearer to a deal that’s In Procurement. You still have their current employer and the other companies they’re rejecting left to beat—not to mention second thoughts, fear, and spousal vetoes.

Most startup companies I’ve ever worked with make one crucial mistake: They assume that their recruitment process is over when that person accepts his or her offer. The truth is the process isn’t over until after the employee starts with the company, updates her LinkedIn profile and emails all her friends. In fact, it’s worse than that. The moment your future head of sales, marketing, product or even junior developer says “yes” is the moment you’re most vulnerable of losing them. – Mark Suster on his blog Both Sides of the Table

Assuming two weeks’ notice and a six-day buffer, that means we have on average 20 days from offer acceptance to start. Stay in touch over that period.

Here are four touch points you might execute:

  1. 18 days before start- Have the team members who they’ve met start connecting with them on LinkedIn. Messages might include “so glad you’re coming on board” or “pumped that you’re joining the team.” You get the idea.
  2. 12 days before start- Ship them some logo’d company gear (e.g., stickers, water bottle, hoodie, )
  3. 7 days before start- Mail them a printed, detailed orientation agenda. The what, who, and when of it. You don’t want them harboring any second thoughts one week
  4. 3 days before start- have the hiring managers’ manager send a “looking forward to meeting you” email. Tell them the team has been working all week prepping their workspace. Maybe even send along a picture of their desk with a small welcome gift on

This isn’t about social pressure, excessive flattery, or manipulation. It’s about confirming for the candidate that they’ve made the right decision. To have a candidate accept an offer and then rescind is an enormous waste of energy, time, and money. Do everything you can to prevent fumbling on the goal line.


Nurture Missed Connections

Picture the traditional sales and marketing funnel one more time. What happens when an opportunity is lost? Is the account banished from the database? Do we refuse to ever sell to them again? Of course not.

For most companies, sales “recycles” the account back to marketing. That is the exact approach you should take with candidates who voluntarily drop out of your recruiting funnel. Perhaps they decided to remain at their current employer. Or maybe they (foolishly!) took another offer.


Some managers act like jilted lovers and harbor ill will towards the candidate. That’s a mistake. A great candidate who says “yes” and a great candidate who says “no thanks” have one thing in common: they’re both great. These missed connections aren’t locked up for 36 month terms with a competitor. You need to keep them in your funnel. Perhaps 5, 4, or even 2 months down the line they’ll see the error of their ways.

If a candidate took another offer and find they regret it, most won’t come crawling back. But if you’ve stayed in touch and (refrained from salting the earth), you can pick right back up where your hiring process left off.

You needn’t architect a complicated nurture sequence. A call at month 1, a text at month 2, and quarterly emails from there on out are sufficient.



*A very special thanks to The Bridge Group team for sharing their sales hiring insights.

For more on how to how to maximize your return on recruiting spend and accelerate the velocity from open req to A-player hired, we highly recommend you download The Bridge Group’s  latest eBook: The Sales Hiring Hourglass.


Eliot Burdett

CEO at Peak Sales Recruiting
Before Peak, Eliot spent more than 20 years building and leading companies, where he took the lead in recruiting and managing high performance sales teams. He co-founded Ventrada Systems (mobile applications) and GlobalX (e-commerce software). He was also Vice President of Sales for PointShot Wireless.

Eliot received his B. Comm. from Carleton University and has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40 Award winner.

He co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast and provides regular insights on sales team management and hiring on the Peak Sales Recruiting Blog.

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