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Step 5- The Formal Offer

You’ve spent the last couple of weeks narrowing the field from 100+ resumes to one final candidate. Now, it’s time to close the deal. You’ve come this far so we don’t want you fumbling the ball on the 2-yard line. Here are the steps I take to ensure I seal the deal.

The Verbal Offer

I call the candidate a day after the last interview, as promised. I let them know that we are prepared to make a verbal offer if they are prepared to give me an answer within 24 hours. It’s unlikely that you’re the only company they are interviewing with, so I give the tight timeline to reduce the risk that I’ll end up in a bidding war with another company and to make sure the candidate feels like they have enough info to make a decision. If they are still in the middle of interviewing with other companies and they want to continue the process with the “competitors” then I say no problem and ask them to let me know when they think they will compete the process with the other suiters. I then will reach back out after I believe they have had a chance to weigh their options and ask them how we rank among all the companies they are speaking with. If we are the #1 choice then I ask them again, “are you ready to give me an answer after I’ve shared the offer with you, within 24 hours?”

If they say “Yes”, then I present them with the offer over the phone. I then let them know that I will be following this up with an email outlining the offer, benefit information, and any other relevant information such as an employee handbook, etc. I then schedule a call to get back together the next day to get an answer. I let them know that they should reach out to me in the next 24 hours with any questions they have about the offer or any of the information that I’ve sent over. It’s at this point that I lock in the start date. If they say “No”, then I might still have some objection handling to do if the issues holding them back are in my control. 

Yes, No, or Maybe – The Negotiation

One of three things will happen the next day when you call.

  1. They will say “No” at which time you need to seek to understand that reason for a no and see if there is anything that can be done to change the situation. Go into “Seek to understand” mode. This isn’t the time for judgement or bruised egos. There is a possibility they didn’t understand the offer as it was intended, the compensation structure, or the benefits being offered. If you can’t turn a no into a yes, then hopefully you’ve been keeping your plan B candidate warm.
  2. They might counter with a higher base salary, variable compensation adjustment, or additional vacation time. You’ll need to decide if you think the candidate is worth the addition financial adjustment. If you can come to agreement, you can move forward to a formal written offer (keep reading).
  3. They will say yes! This is the best outcome and now all that needs to be done is to put the formal offer together.

The Formal Written Offer

Now it’s time to put it in writing to formalize the offer. Here are some important components of the formal offer you’ll want to address:

  • Who they will report to
  • The base salary
  • The variable compensation plan (I usually put this in an Appendix)
  • Their start date
  • When they will be eligible for benefits
  • Any legal items, such as, if you’re in an at will employment state or not

I will then send the offer over for electronic signature and confirm with the candidate when the signed offer has been received. I also ask them when they plan to give notice and how they expect their company to react. This will give you a chance to coach them on how to handle and prepare them for what might come their way. 

Reduce Buyer’s Remorse

Before you pop the champagne make sure you do everything you can to hold off those other suiters and reassure the new employee, they have made the right decision. Here are some of the things I do to make sure the new employee doesn’t have any buyer’s remorse:

  • I send a “care” package to their house filled with company logo items and a handwritten note.
  • I have co-workers and anyone involved in the interview process reach out to congratulation them
  • If they are a local employee, I put a happy hour together to allow them to meet a few people before day 1
  • If they are a remote employee, then I invite them to join a sales mtg. if they can

You need to make sure that during the 2-3 week between the formal offer coming in and the 1st day of onboarding are filled with regular communication. Make sure you know when they plan to give notice and then call that day or the next to see how that went. It wouldn’t be the first time a company countered to keep a star employee.

If you don’t have a formal hiring process I hope these 5 steps in my process will encourage you to formalize how you attract, screen, interview, and hire your next sales rep.