How to Spot & Sell X-Factor to Your Clients

Submitting a candidate that only meets 70% of the selection criteria yet possesses X-factor and immense potential takes more than just courage. You need strong influencing skills, creativity and an eye for identifying unique talent to be able to do that successfully. Not many recruiters possess these skills and I am convinced many such “Mr/Ms 70 percent” with X-factors are perpetually overlooked and undersold.
Case in point – I was recruiting a General Manager (GM) for a client recently and had shortlisted six candidates for the position. Five of them fully meet the criteria and they all passed the face-to-face interviews without truly standing out.
Then came Mr 70 percent. I shortlisted him because I was impressed with his rationale for how he could cover the missing 30 percent and the way he convinced me to grant him a face-to-face interview. After chatting with him for 45 minutes and getting him to do an extra inbox exercise to test his skills (which he passed with flying colours), I was sold and rated him to have immense X-factor.
[bctt tweet=”How to sell a Mr 70% with X-factor to your client? @trevorpvas shares more.” username=”ATCevent”]
Sure he is missing the financial reporting experience, has never held the GM title and also has not reported to a board before. But he has charisma, could answer questions concisely and to the point, is a good listener and asked great questions, was immensely likeable and a solid track record in the industry. I’m convinced Mr 70 percent is just what my client needs to take their business onto the next level.
I proceeded to sell Mr 70 Percent and quantify my reasons. I recommended they engage an Executive Coach for him and I justified the expense based on fact that he will cost less than the rest of the candidates I had shortlisted to hire. The client however, was not convinced. They refused to consider my idea and did not share my excitement. I thought they were making a mistake but having pushed the case as far as I could, I accepted that that there was nothing more that I could do. I had to let it go.
So you might wonder – who am I to dispense advice on identifying and selling X-factor when I have failed to get Mr 70 percent hired? Sometimes this approach has worked and with great outcomes and others, like with Mr 70 percent, I had a risk-adverse client who wasn’t willing to look outside of the safe track-record box.  Fair enough, but it won’t impede by enthusiasm for recognising and recommending people based on POTENTIAL.
So the question begs. How can you identify and sell high potential X-factor candidates to your clients?

How to identify X-factor?
  • Keep an open mind for all candidates and only rule them out if you are convinced they do not meet most of the mandatory criteria;
  • For Candidates who are border line, do inform them and offer a creative thinking exercise to complete to test their ability to convert ideas into an actual business plan;
  • Arrange the candidate to meet the team he/she would be potentially joining to gain feedback and different perspectives on him/her;
  • Observe the candidate during the face-to-face interview and take note of how he/she handles and present himself/herself;
  • Expand the character reference check process to include external referees such as clients that the candidate had serviced before to get a better overview of his/her capabilities;
  • Use online assessment early in the recruitment process to identify potential before you rule them out on experience. R2-strengths-profiler combined with a Cognitive Ability Test and Abilities-based EI assessments can help.

[bctt tweet=”How can you recommend people based on potential? @trevorpvas knows how” username=”ATCevent”]

How to sell X-factor?
  • Exhibit – Demonstrate that the candidate has the necessary expertise and knowledge to be able to compensate for his/her lack of experience and excel in the position;
  • Explain – Keep your pitch clear and easy to understand. Use popular references if needed so as to get your point across more effectively;
  • Excite – Your message has to excite. Practice your pitch in front of the mirror if you need. Even Winston Churchill, one of the most charismatic figures in history, had practiced his oratory style in front of a mirror.

Although I am disappointed that Mr 70 percent missed out on the position, I was glad to have made the connection and offered him some advice on how he could nab his next role as GM. He eventually did at a different company and I am really happy for him. I’m certain the company who hired him had unearthed a gem and they will be much better off for that.
So looking back at the pool of candidates you have shortlisted for your next recruitment assignment, can you spot any with the X-factor?
Image: Shutterstock

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