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Talent & Recruitment
PODCAST TRANSCRIPT - Sales Recruitment and Talent - Hiring: Recruiting Salespeople for SMBs: The Challenges and Opportunities
Jan 10, 2018 | Canadian Professional Sales Association lock

In the latest episode of the CPSA Recruitment and Talent podcast we'll discuss the importance of the recruiting salespeople for SMBs today.  

We’ll consider what are the personal character traits recruiters should look for when sourcing candidates for sales roles in SMBs, what the technical skills needed to succeed in sales today are, how has machine learning changed the sales recruitment landscape, and what are some of the challenges and pitfalls which prevent salespeople from making a success of new roles at SMBs.

The guest is Mira Greenland, SVP Strategic Accounts and SaaS Social Recruiting Sales at CareerArc.

Listen to this episode of the CPSA Recruitment and Talent Podcast and discover:

* What are the personal character traits recruiters should look for when sourcing candidates for sales roles in SMBs

* What the technical skills needed to succeed in sales today are

* How has machine learning changed the sales recruitment landscape

* What are some of the challenges and pitfalls which prevent salespeople from making a success of new roles at SMBs

Want to hear more? Check out these bonus insights:

* What are the personal character traits recruiters look for when sourcing candidates for sales roles in SMBs?


* Why work for an SMB? What are the opportunities on offer not readily available in larger companies?


* Is the ability to develop and project a personal brand even more important to generating sales in SMBs?

Read the edited transcription:


Kevin Grossman: Mira, thank you so much for being on the CPSA Recruitment and Talent Podcast. Before we dive into the rest of the show, why don't you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do today.


Mira Greenland: Thanks for having me, Kevin. I am Mira Greenland. As you mentioned, I'm currently the Senior Vice President of Sales here at CareerArc. I work in our Social Recruiting Division, where I've been now for just over eight years, actually. So, quite a while.


Kevin Grossman: That's excellent, and how many years in software years is that, like 25?


Mira Greenland: Yeah, I was going to say, exactly. Exactly. As far as what I do today, today I'm actually focused on partnerships and larger strategic global deals, but in my time here I've done everything from sort of entry-level sales, growing our SDR team, which is our sales development rep team, built our sales team, manager sales team, trained the sales teams, I've done all different things from sort of management, to individual contributor, to coach, player, coach, and the like, so been around the block for sure.


Kevin Grossman: So, absolutely, so you got a great body of experience in sales and especially sourcing and hiring sales professionals, right? So let me ask you about that, especially as it applies to smaller businesses, because that's going to be more of the focus of this particular podcast on the SMB side. What are the traits, kind of the personal character traits that recruiters should be looking for when they're sourcing for sales roles in smaller businesses? And is there a difference?


Mira Greenland: There definitely is a difference. Yeah, and it's funny. Prior to moving into sales eight years ago, I was a recruiter, and I found it really interesting, this process of interviewing and recruiting sales people because I was a recruiter for engineers, and it's a very different breed. Sales people are really good at selling themselves, so I think it does create some interesting challenges for the recruiter because you're dealing with, hopefully, a professional sales person who at a minimum, even if they can't sell for your company, is pretty good at selling themselves. I think what classically happens is that recruiters are really looking for engaging candidates, and depending on what type of sales role you're hiring for in your small/medium business, you might be looking at how well they interview in person, or over the phone because if this is going to be primarily a remote-type position where they're over the phone and presenting over the internet, you may be looking at their ability to carry on a conversation on the phone and engage you. They're all sort of really different beasts.

                   

What I think should go on, especially because for small and medium businesses, it is so important to hire the right person because you don't necessarily have the resources to have the churn that a bigger company expects to have with their sales people. That sort of hire fast, fire fast mentality that a lot of larger companies have is really testing sales people more. I guess for recruiters that are listening and trying to figure out ways in which they can more efficiently hire, I would really encourage you to add some testing to your process, whether it's a written test to look at how well your candidates can actually compose an email and put together a sentence structure. Seems silly, but if part of your job is going to be constantly emailing, and trying to get meetings set, and do follow-up, it's really important that you can be creative, and write, and speak good English.


The other piece is to ask your salesperson to show you how they pitch. If they're currently working at a company, ideally they can pitch to you what they're currently selling. You can get a sense of their pitch style, of what kind of follow-up they might do. And if they're not, maybe allow them to come up with something that they want to pitch, just to get a sense of what their comfort level is presenting in front of a group or presenting over the phone. If they have access to, and they're going to be using a tool like a WebEx or a GoTo, you could also ask them to present to you through those platforms to get a sense of how well they handle and command that technology. I think that's something that we've changed here over the years. We've really started to test our sales people on the things that they're ultimately going to be doing here, just the way you might test a software engineer on code before you have them writing code into the back end of your system.


Kevin Grossman: I think it's really important, and I know that, whether it's an actual assessment that helps you determine that, or some kind of job simulation, or one thing that I heard, this is exactly what you're talking about too, that I heard this at a conference I was just at recently, is an audition. It's a talent audition, for whatever role that is and whatever means, so engineers, and software developers, and those that are being screened, they've been asked to do coding tests, et cetera. I think it is important, and I love what you said about just having them do even a written test to understand communication style and skills because it is important because a lot of correspondence goes back and forth between prospects and sales.


Mira Greenland: It does, and I can't tell you, over the years how many times...I'm not much of a micro manager but if somebody leaves the organization and you're in a position where you need to clean up and figure out where their accounts are at, I've looked through so many emails where I've cringed just between the tacky ways in which salespeople can be sales-y. It's a craft to ask for the close without sounding like a cheeseball, or without being too pushy, and even things like spelling errors, and not writing a complete sentence, and checking your work, that usually will carry over to much more than just that because that's a carelessness that comes with the way that you work overall. So if you can catch those things on the front end, I think you save yourself some pain on the back.


Kevin Grossman: You touched on it a little bit, but expand on it a little bit more, from your experience and perspective, what kinds of technical skills are needed to succeed in sales today?


Mira Greenland: Well we talked a bunch about writing. I guess some people might not consider that technical, but certainly using whatever email program that you have, being able to integrate that with whatever CRM that you have, I think those things are important, and they may not, whoever you're interviewing, may not have the exact platform experience you're using, but as long as they've used something and they're relatively savvy, if that's an important part of your business, maybe you're not, maybe you're all phone, then I think you're probably set because we can switch between platforms pretty easily. What's challenging is they've never used, for example, a web presentation tool and it's the first time they are, there's a lot of fumbling that can go on. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't hire them, it's just you need to be aware of they're going to have that much more of a learning curve.


I would say probably the biggest one that I experienced here that I would be mindful of, is the difference between being an online phone sales person versus in-person. I think it was very eye opening for me, especially given I really started my sales career here, so I haven't been bouncing around at three or four different companies in these eight years. I've just been here. To watch how humbling it was for people who were really brilliant on site, kind of relationship sales people having lunches, and golfing, and going to baseball games, and going on site, and presenting, and growing million dollar accounts to come here to CareerArc and struggle with figuring out how to get people to take a phone call from you when they don't know who you are, and then keeping them engaged on an hour-long demo, and then keeping them engaged on email and phone call follow-ups when you don't have that personal rapport.


I think just being mindful of the technical skills it takes to be a solid online presenter versus person, in-person presenter, and then having the, again, the writing skills to keep the follow-up relationship going. I think those are probably the biggest skills. I guess maybe if we're really looking at true sales management, obviously being able to manage your pipeline and do that all through your CRM is really important as well, just for visibility into management as to how many calls you're making, and how things are moving along in your pipeline, and being able to forecast accurately so that you have really predictable revenue.


Kevin Grossman: Absolutely. Speaking of technology, there's a lot of fast and loose conversations out there around artificial intelligence, and recruitment, and machine learning, and the like. What are some of the, I mean, are you seeing any impact from, in reality at least, with machine learning in sales recruitment in particular and if so, how? How is it impacting?


Mira Greenland: This is probably the question that I thought the most about, that you sent over to me. I've learned a lot about how machine learning could change the sales recruitment landscape, but I have not yet seen that in practice. Even at the conference that we both attended this fall, I learned some really interesting things about technologies organizations are using for video interviewing, for example, to be able to tell how the candidate thinks, if they're creative-minded, if they're more technical-minded, and to even read the level of honesty in their replies. I have never used those technologies and I think they're still a little bit...I wouldn't say they're ahead of their time. I think they're still a little new to the conversation. It's obvious to me now that these things that are right on the horizon of being certainly available, if not valuable tools for sales recruitment and every type of recruitment.


Kevin Grossman: Agreed. So Mira, lastly, what are some of the, give me an example or two of challenges that you've seen preventing sales people from being successful in their new roles at small- to mid-sized businesses today.


Mira Greenland: I think probably for sales people who are experienced, probably the biggest, is overestimating their previous book of business. I kind of joke about it with my husband. He was also in sales, but you'll often hear people come to an interview saying, "Well I know this company, and I know that company," or even like a little folder of all the different lists of people that they know that they're bringing along, and I think the simplest way to knock a sales person off their game is just to remind them if you worked for Honda and somebody bought a car from you last week, and then you go to work for Toyota, that person's not even in the market for a car, let alone are they interested in buying a car from Toyota. Just because they liked you doesn't mean they're going to buy from you.


I think what will often happen with smaller and medium-sized businesses is the recruiters will look for people who will have a book of business because they're excited about the potential of making it easier for them, but often times that book really doesn't convert the way that both the candidate and the recruiter would think that it will. I would say just be mindful of that and not to lean too heavily on your previous book of business. Use it to the degree that it can be helpful, but really be disciplined with creating new opportunities because in some ways it's easier to start fresh than it is to get somebody that you worked with before to make the investment at a company that's in the same space.


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