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Sales Models, Metrics, and Motions Blog

The Right Way to Generate Sales Candidate Referrals

by Kyle Smith on Thu, Oct 23, 2014


Did you pay for your wedding cake on your one year anniversary? Did you put the down payment on your car after your first oil change? Ridiculous, right?

Then why do companies pay after the date of hire for inside sales candidate referrals?

There is definitely a talent crunch for SDR and ISR candidates. I’m seeing referral rewards of $500, $1000 and even $2000 for a single hire. That’s a big payoff, but the long odds encourage little effort. (Note: I’m talking about getting more referrals from your network - not from current employees.)

Many companies pay out after the candidate has been hired and working for 30, 60, or even 90 days. That length of time doesn’t incent immediate action and leads to little or no referral efforts.

Here’s a better idea: pay on valid applications submitted

Think of your referral process in the same way you would qualified appointment setting.

If an SDR sets a meeting that meets the proper criteria, they’ve done their job whether or not the deal ever closes. Their job is to put sales reps in front of qualified prospects. When generating referrals, the goal is the same: put qualified candidates in front of hiring managers.

Let’s say you are willing to pay a $2000 reward per hire. Assume you’ve done the math and you know that you need 25 applicants to find 1 hire.

Your reward per valid referral would be $80 in either cash or a gift card upon acceptance of resume. Instant gratification rules!

The fine print

  1. You have to know what you’re looking for
    You need concrete, realistic and documented experience, and skill requirements. It has to be 100% clear what makes a candidate either qualified or not.
  2. It has to be easy (for the referrer!)
    Give them a personal link to share, a way for the candidate to enter who referred them, and instant feedback on an applicant being accepted. That is how you’ll scale from 1 to n+1 referrals per person.
  3. You need to be able to turn off the tap
    You need a big red button to let your referral pool know when you are no longer accepting candidates. Also consider adding a deadline or counter ticking down to zero. Scarcitydrives action.
  4. Treat this like a marketing campaign
    Equip your network to message their own LinkedIn networks. Give them templates to use, “I heard about a great opportunity and here are the 3 reasons I think you are good fit……”, etc.

Obviously this isn’t a one-and-done cure for hiring ills.

The job description still needs to sell the role. The company still needs to be exciting and full of promise. The process still needs to be fun (or at least not soul-sucking). If you have open reqs to fill, give this a try.

What say you? How are you generating candidate referrals from your network?

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Topics: inside sales hiring

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