Through our years of experience in the startup, sales and recruiting trenches (pre/post Avenue Talent Partners), Debbie and I have made it a top priority to change the hiring process in a way that protects candidate experience while helping employers hire the very best people to make a big impact.
Disrupting the norm isn’t always easy, but it helps change things for the better.
While I’ve talked about some of our ATP experiences from the talent side of things, today I’d like to share a different story: one where we were able to help a client kick start the recruiting process for an instrumental leadership role on the sales team.
But not just any client. I’m talking about a dream client. The kind of client that when look the term up in the dictionary, their picture is front and center. Someone who truly understands that there’s a heck of a lot more to building a strong sales team than simply hiring an outside recruiter to do the nitty gritty work on your behalf.
Why Many Get the Sales Recruitment Game All Wrong
Before I dive into what makes Zac and team Inspire so very special, it’s helpful to share a little background of the dark side of what can happen in the recruiting process. Sadly, I’ve witnessed firsthand (more than I care to admit) what a less-than-stellar sales recruiting process looks like. Through these trials and tribulations, I’ve had to make the tough decision to back away from companies that are doing such great things in their business, yet are are getting this critical task so very wrong.
Let’s just say that there tends to be a lot of style over substance. Quite often, there is so much focus on competing priorities, that sales recruitment quickly gets bogged down by unnecessary processes, no clear vision of the task at hand, too many chefs in the kitchen, poor communication, a lack of respect for the time their sought after candidate invested and the list goes on I’m afraid.
This is a highly competitive marketplace, full of hard-working people and innovative ideas. Unfortunately, ego and other factors result in many companies making their sales team (and sales hiring in general) a much lower priority that tends to fall to the wayside producing results that miss the mark more than not.
All too often, the approach to recruiting is set by people who don’t understand what a healthy recruiting process looks like or how to execute to get the job done well. They opt for a “plug and play” method that emphasizes antiquated, inefficient process over outcome. More times than not, this leads to turning off those highly coveted gems you’ve set your sights on.
When companies take a commoditized, disposable approach to the hiring process, salespeople are known to feel a lack of loyalty and are ripe for the picking to be part of something significant for someone else. When this happens it’s hard minimize high turnover rates, causing the employer to lose a lot of money in the process.
This is NOT the recommended pathway to success. Quite the opposite. It’s a less than stellar environment, and makes it nearly impossible to evangelize on your behalf — after all, you can’t flaunt what you don’t got.
Enter Zac Lowder, Stage Left
Thankfully, from all of the good and bad examples Debbie and I have witnessed over the years — as well as what we’ve seen in business together — we’ve taken a much different approach to the task at hand. We understand that there isn’t much point trying to promote companies that don’t place a whole lot of value on their sales staff or the process to grow the team. Our job isn’t to artificially stroke egos or work under false pretenses to fit the “square peg in the round hole” as they say, it’s to create a win-win situation to make meaningful connections between the employer and and the right sales talent to elevate the business…TOGETHER
Inspire is an impressive, innovative company designed to help consumers and businesses tap into the power of clean, renewable wind energy fueled by wicked smart technology. They’re changing the game via a planet-friendly mission, through an easy-to-use platform, with an emphasis on member experience — it’s no surprise that they’ve been crushing it with a more than exciting road ahead!
Zac and Inspire had already established a solid baseline in their efforts to recruit top talent. In Zac’s words: “Finding seriously talented people who can truly be a part of our carefully built culture is one of the hardest and most important aspects of our business. And delivering a delightful, memorable candidate experience is a must whether they join the team or not.”
When Zac first explained these ideals to me, I knew we were starting off on the right foot. Recruiting wasn’t just some onerous task to get sales bodies into the building; it was part of their overall mission and culture — a culture that easily illustrates how much someone joining the team would be valued at the company, even during each and every step of the interview process.
But as Inspire continued to grow, they found themselves with a problem. Once again, going with Zac’s words: “Our schedules grew tighter, opportunities became bigger, and we needed to bring in key talent even faster. We knew we needed support.”
In particular, Zac and his team were looking for a “number two,” a true sales leader who would help them take advantage of those big opportunities and continue to scale the company to make a big impact. They were looking for top sales talent — a term so many people throw around, but have a difficult time defining.
For Inspire, this meant not only finding someone who could do the job, but also become a meaningful part of the fabric of the company — someone who would inspire (no pun intended) impressive results through their leadership.
Zac was coming to us for the right reasons. But that’s not the only reason why he’s a dream client.
I’ve written several times about the factors that influence whether or not your top sales staff will stick around. Fair compensation. Engaged leadership. Opportunities for growth. A product that provides value. A culture that understands and celebrates the sales process.
Zac and his team work hard to deliver this experience to their employees, members, and marketplace. #swoon
Inspire isn’t merely looking for a warm body to fill an opening. They’re looking for a meaningful addition to the team. They understand that to bring someone into the fold (and keep them there), you need to deliver true value in the workplace. All those turnover problems from communication and misplaced priorities that I talked about earlier? They’ve embraced a process to insulate themselves from this dilemma.
Because of this, it’s so much easier to evangelize on Inspire’s behalf and attract the very best to their company — and it helps as the odds of their new sales leader sticking around for the long haul drastically increase.
Making a Difference
So how have we been able to work with Inspire to make a difference? As outside recruiters, our role isn’t to bring in just anybody. We’re looking for the right “one” who will fit well with the company culture and provide lasting value for Inspire — while also enjoying lasting benefits themselves.
We couldn’t accomplish this without Zac’s collaboration or an open line of communication — but we’re lucky enough to have both of those things. This helps us not only understand what is needed and why, but also allows us to continue to learn from the process so we can hit the nail on the head.
In Zac’s words: “Working with Amy and Debbie has been a really refreshing experience compared to others in the recruiting/talent search world, and they’ve become a valuable part of our team. They provide scale so we can stay focused on other key initiatives. They’re aligned with our values and priorities, and they communicate with us frequently. Most importantly, they deliver the result we’re after — more talented people joining us on our mission.”
It might be time to ask yourself: how does your recruitment process represent your company in the market? Is the unique mission of your organization, along with your culture and expectations communicated clearly to those gems you’ve been dying to get your hands on? Do you have a positive environment that will help sales team thrive and grow?
Your answers to these questions could very well affect whether or not your recruiting efforts are able to bring the right people on board at the right time.
The thing is, if you aren’t taking action to improve your sales recruiting efforts right now, you’ll probably find yourself suffering for it. That’s not a good place to be.
In some cases, you may need to make adjustments to your infrastructure before you’ll be able to build a strong sales team. Or you might be in a position like Zac: you already have the foundation in place, you may not have the time or bandwidth to take things to the next level.
Regardless of what you need to do, taking action today to solidify your sales team is one of the best things you can do to ensure lasting success for your business.
Summing It All Up
Successful sales recruiting doesn’t only depend on the work your outside recruiters do. It exists when you can form a true partnership — one where there are shared commitments, goals, and values.
When all is said and done, this is a team effort. Zac has been a dream client for us, and we’ve been so honored to work with a company like Inspire and a true leader like Zac who really “gets it” — and to contribute to their success story in our own way.
Have you ever found yourself in Zac’s shoes? Curious to know more? If you’re struggling, I’m here and welcome the chance to discuss what our process looks like. Don’t be a stranger. Send a smoke signal through our website or a note compliments of LinkedIn.
As always, thanks for reading!
Note: This piece was originally posted on Linkedin