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How to Sell Anything to the Right Buyer

2 min read.



Employer Branding, Talent Attraction, Brand Authenticity, Employer Branding Research, Employee Value Proposition

sell me this pen

Understanding your candidate audience and being able to sell them an authentic vision of your organisation is the key to finding and keeping the right talent...

How well do you understand the role you’re trying to fill?

Are you able to sell it? Really sell it?

Sure, you can talk about the salary, the pizza Fridays, bring-your pet-to-work day and the rest of the perks, but if you’re not selling the reality of the role then the bad news is that you are going to end up having to sell it to somebody all over again. And sooner than you might like.

In Martin Scorcese’s Oscar nominated depiction of the life of stockbroker, Jordan Belfort, The Wolf of Wall Street, Belfort famously assesses the ability of potential salespeople by asking them to sell him a biro.

“Sell me this pen”, he asks. And if they start by saying it’s a great pen, writes well etc. he hands it on to the next one until he finds someone who gets what he is talking about.

The test, well-known to sales professionals and regarded and disregarded by them in equal measure, is both nonsensical and at the same time demonstrative, designed to assess just how much someone understands the true nature of selling.

The answer that it really seeks is whether you grasp the idea that buying and selling is as much (or more) about aspirations, needs and wants as it is about practicalities or requirements.

It is about how well a salesperson can understand their client and discover what is motivating them to consider purchasing their product in the first place. It is about what they really want versus what you assume they want. Or if you want to go deeper, what they themselves think they want against what they actually want and why.

In other words, you must know the buyer before you can sell anything to them.

So, going to back to the pen, instead of talking about the amount of ink the pen holds or the colour of that ink, the canny salesperson should ask why they need a pen, how often they use one, what they write with it and so on.

If it’s for everyday use a simple biro might suffice but if it’s for something more elaborate - calligraphy for example - then you have an opportunity to sell them something better and more expensive. But you must glean that knowledge first.

If you grasp all that then you get to join Jordan’s firm and enjoy the money, the hookers, the drugs and all the rest. “The rest” unfortunately being some prison time. But that’s not obligatory to career success and certainly not advisable.

Building an Employee Value Proposition

So, when you talk to your talent audience to fill your latest vacancy are you just selling them a job or are you selling them fulfilment, purpose, a path to happiness and alignment with their personal career needs and wants?

There’s no point just extolling the virtues of the company, you need to make an emotional connection with the potential candidate and that can only be done by inspiring thoughts and emotions connected with purpose, belonging and so on.

If what you are offering does not resonate with that potential candidate then they are not aligned with your culture, your objectives, with your organisation’s needs and wants and you should be happy to see them walk away without applying.

More and more employees are searching for something far beyond just a paycheck. They want to feel like they are part of something meaningful, making a positive impact, and part of a community that shares their values. This is especially true for Gen Z and Millennials, who prioritise purpose over profits to seek a deeper connection with the brands they work for.

You need to be able to sell them that connection with a clearly defined Employee Value Proposition rooted in the reality of your organisation.

It is important to understand the value of employees feeling a sense of purpose, impact, and belonging. Not only does it lead to happier and more engaged employees, but it also positively impacts your organisation's bottom line, leading to less regrettable loss of your best talent, reduced recruiting overheads (according to LinkedIn, organisations with a strong employer brand enjoy a 43% decrease in cost per hire) and improved productivity.

How to Sell your EVP to Talent

1. Define and communicate your organization's purpose

Your employees need to know what your organization stands for and how their work contributes to the larger mission. Clearly defining and communicating your organisation's purpose can help employees feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves.

2. Empower employees to make an impact

Giving employees autonomy and opportunities to contribute to important projects and initiatives can help them feel like they are making a difference. This can lead to increased job satisfaction and a deeper connection to the organisation.

3. Foster a sense of community and belonging

Creating a positive work culture where employees feel valued and respected can lead to a sense of belonging. Encouraging team building and collaboration can help foster these relationships.

4. Provide opportunities for growth and development

Investing in your employees' professional development shows that you value them and want them to succeed. This can lead to increased motivation and a sense of purpose in their work.

5. Align your values with your employees

Make sure that your organisation's values align with those of your employees. This will help those employees feel like they are working for a company that shares their values and that they are making a positive impact in the world.

In today's competitive job market, it's more important than ever to prioritise employee purpose, impact, and belonging. By doing so, you can attract and retain top talent. Remember, a strong sense of purpose and community can lead to happier employees and a stronger bottom line.

With that in place, your organisation will sell itself. But only to the right candidates.


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