Don’t sell…organize!

Yesterday I had a couple of interactions with candidates that got me to thinking about the activity of “selling” someone vs. organizing them.  My experience of someone “selling me” is that it is distancing and rarely includes active listening – it’s a defensive posture.  In the executive search business the job of the consultant/recruiter is to make an assessment based on the client’s requirements in terms of skills and experiences, cultural fit and the interpersonal interactions with the candidate during the interview.  I think there’s a misconception that if someone comes at a recruiter with a strong “sell” one can push ones way into being presented to the client.  I think it’s a bad strategy.

My background includes many years as a fundraiser for an organization (the All Stars Project that has an organizing approach to fundraising.  What that means is that when we call someone to solicit a contribution we engage in an organizing activity which is an intimate activity.  It’s a slow building process.  It’s the antithesis of “selling”.  I work hard to listen and build off of everything (every offer as we say in improvisational language) a donor gives me in a conversation in order to deepen our relationship.  I do the same thing in a recruiting call.  This is what I mean by organizing vs. selling.