Traditionally, when I think of recruiters, sales training does not jump to mind. I think “this is someone who will save me the time of locating candidates.” Then, my next thought is, “but how do I know these are good candidates?” There is value in a recruiter, don’t get me wrong, I covered this in a previous blog. But what if that recruiter also provided training vital to future success and also continued the vetting process throughout that training as they watched them in action. This would be extremely valuable to a sales hiring manager.
Combining Recruiting and Sales Training
Imagine a recruiter who specializes in one single area. One so specific that they actually vet 100 candidates on the front end, arrive at the 16 best, and then…TRAIN them for 8 weeks. Usually recruiting and training don’t always go together. However, they should. At Techqualled, the standard program is as described above, vet candidates, train them in a 7 week program called LaunchPad for Veterans. This program provides training specifically for Technology Sales roles. I participate regularly in the role plays and can tell you, this is real world, challenging sales training at it’s finest.
Come for the recruiting, stay for the sales training
As Techqualled evolves, our hiring partners and our Veterans are seeing the value of the training aspect of the program. We are now fielding requests and building out programs to simply provide sales training for their existing employees. That speaks volumes to the quality of this program. So, expect more as you hire a recruiter. Don’t just ask for a stack of resumes, ask them to see the syllabus for their training program.
Hiring Veterans was never something I thought I would be doing. I have come to realize that Veterans have the determination, commitment, and drive to get the job done every time.
I was born an Army Brat. As a matter of fact, when I was born, the doctor put one of those “property of the US Army” t-shirts on me. My grandmother was irate and she made it a point to tell the Doctor that I was not the property of the U.S. Army! Little did she know that in a small way I actually was and wear it proudly to this day…
Fast-forward a few years…. after graduating from college, I landed my first job at a local express catering company and continued to hold various roles in operations until August 2007 when I was laid off by my family business. I ended up speaking with a recruiter who told me about a “cool company” where you could bring dogs to work, there was a beer cart every Friday and it had a very fun culture. I had no clue what tech sales meant and had zero sales experience, but how hard could it be with dogs and beer around?
A few interviews later this organization took a chance on me. Because of that, for the last 11 years, I have built a high tech sales career at Softchoice in various roles, and I could not be happier.
One of the unique things about Softchoice is that they partner with Tech Qualled to hire qualified, veteran talent. TQ graduates fit well into our corporate culture and have industry and tech knowledge from the get-go. They hit the ground running with minimal direction and become a producer for our organization rapidly. These Veterans are used to tough times and know they can climb out because they already have that grit and determination engrained in them. Most veterans have been in some of the harshest conditions and under extreme pressure in the military. Compared to that, Sales is easy even when it is bad.
I never had the opportunity to “pay back” my pops or the military for making me the man I am today, nor did it ever dawn on me that I could, until the opportunity to work directly with some of TQ’s veterans came along. I now participate in roleplays as a coach to offer up my guidance and support, while at the same time have the opportunity to see and recruit veteran talent for Softchoice.
I am giving back to something that has given me so much. At the same time, I’ve had the opportunity to see Tech Qualled graduates exemplify military ethos. They understand that it’s not just about their individual success and goals, but their team and corporation. They truly care about helping their teammates be successful and are willing to help support their colleagues for the greater good which ultimately creates a far more reaching impact within the company.
Truly, I cannot wait to get more Tech Qualled folks into our organization!
James lives in Seattle, Washington with his wife and two boys. He is a Field Sales Mentor and Development Coach at Softchoice, Inc, and continues to mentor Tech Qualled Graduates in the Launchpad Academy. In his spare time, you can find James at MKG teaching Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and other martial arts.
Recommendations for Candidates Entering TQ or the High Tech Sales Industry:
I know it’s tough, but it’s not always about the salary and commission. Believe me, I have had some opportunities to make a lot more money but they were not the right fit for me because they lacked things like training, good culture, and reputation within the industry.
The next move you make is not your next job, it’s your next career. In my opinion, you don’t want to jump from partner to partner, vendor to vendor because eventually you won’t be hirable and each time you move you take one more step back from it being a career. All you have to do is look at me for that example…I came into Softchoice with no tech sales background, worked my way up from Inside sales, to Field sales and now as a mentor/development coach. If the future me went back in time and talked to the me who showed up at Softchoice that first day and said “in 10 years you will be coaching and mentoring field reps,” the past me would have probably told the future me you are CRAZY and that will never happen.
Find a great company, stick with it, and be great at what you do. Have grit, determination, and self-discipline. Be coachable, a continuous learner, and know the difference between being ambitious vs commitment. Finally, set daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals. Do these things, and you will see enormous success.
The biggest thing I want our recruits to know is that a career in tech sales is tough! Those who haven’t been in sales don’t know how hard it actually is. You have some good days, but man is there a lot of bad days, months and years. (If you are successful your entire sales career I would like to know your secret sauce!) However, if you can get past each hurdle, every time they come up, it is one of the most rewarding careers out there.
Recommendations for Potential Clients Hiring TQ Graduates:
What I hear the most, even within Softchoice, is that the TQ grads are sometimes too green, and that can’t be denied- they don’t have enough sales experience. However, what I always challenge is the fact that I can teach/coach sales to anyone. When you break it down, it’s a really easy thing to learn, but what I can’t teach or at times is very difficult for reps to learn is the discipline, the grit, that “no quit” attitude and how to be a team player. Give me the latter vs someone that has been in sales for a few years any day. ____________________________________________________________________________
For more information on the Launchpad Academy or Hiring Tech Qualled graduates, reach out to us HERE.
Ok, so this is a topic that I get easily excited about. So forgive my, “passion” here today. I often hear HR managers or Sales Managers say, “we are hiring sellers!”…”oh, but we don’t pay recruiting fees.” This is when I get “passionate.”
According to a recent study done by the Society for Human Resource Management, the cost to hire and retain a quality seller is $4,129 plus 42 days to fill which undoubtedly has a cost associated with it as well. Whether you are giving a fee to an agency or not, trust me when I tell you, that you ARE paying for it! Let me explain this categorically.
The Role of H.R. in the recruiting process
So if your company is large enough to actually have a recruiting department, I want you to close your eyes for a minute and think about this organization. Think about the process from building job postings, to soliciting, to reviewing resumes, to scheduling interviews, to negotiating offers. Now think about all the tools, people, etc. that go into this process. Take a rough guess at the cost of this. Probably a sizeable number. OK, I get it, this is probably a sunk cost, so how does this justify further recruiting fees? The answer lies in the accuracy of the process here. HR is the tip of the funnel in identifying talent. This comes in the form of resumes and job fairs. No offense to HR people, but I will bet you most sales managers don’t have a high opinion of their ability to identify quality sales talent. On top of that, I spend time mentoring young sellers on interviewing, and I have seen some really creative resumes. I don’t know how an HR manager could truly pick the right 10 resumes out of a batch of 100 submissions in this day and age. Oh, you use AI systems to filter. Hah! Trust me, I love AI! I am currently writing this blog in a 15×12 office which contains both an Amazon Echo AND a Google Home Hub. But, Alexa doesn’t select my sales reps for me. To really get underneath the justification here, there is a bit of taking cost out of the process, but more it’s about the cost of making a bad hire, which we will cover later in this blog.
The Role of the Sales or Hiring Manager in the recruiting process
OK sales managers, I am calling you out here. After managing salespeople for 20 years now, I feel comfortable doing this. Let me start by asking you a similar question to the one I did above. What is your involvement in the hiring process? How much time will you spend? Assuming you answered the second question with 40 hours or more, I would ask yourself, how much are 40 hours of your time worth to your company? A recent study showed that an average company loses 1-2.5% of its total annual revenue based on the hiring exercise. Spending time recruiting, interviewing, calling references etc is a fairly taxing exercise. It’s also typically elongated when left to a manager who doesn’t usually have a stack of resumes and contacts to draw from. So now you are talking about the loss of dollars based on having an empty territory. So sales managers, if you really are good salespeople, you should understand the cost benefits here of a recruiter, and be able to sell yourself on the fee, or your HR department.
The Cost of Making a Bad Hire
Thinking back to the processes I described above. If you are hiring from unknown candidates, stacks of resumes, you know how much guesswork can go into hiring a salesperson. Typically when you get down to final candidates, it’s usually a second interview and then offers. So this is maybe two hours with someone and a call to the references he or she has teed up to say great things about them? I have made bad hires. This category is likely the most costly of them all. Not only the wasted salary you will put on someone for six months before letting them go, but also the lack of results. Recruiters have their reputation at stake and also have a superior vetting process to the ones you might employ. Thus, the likelihood of a quality hire should be much higher.
The Cost of Hiring Entry vs Seasoned Sellers
This last one is a bit unique to the TechQualled recruiting and placement process. I spoke about this in depth in my last blog. This is basic math. How much would you say you would pay an entry level sales person in year one? $60K base? $85K On Target? How about a seasoned seller? I know the answer to this one, because 25 years into this, my friendship circle is comprised of people who fit this bill and are moving around. The going rate is a base of $150K, and OTE at $250 plus. And the key here is, they do not have the patience for a year one miss of OTE while they build the territory. So why does this matter? Again, basic math. If you can bring in someone that is an experienced professional at a $85K base, OTE of $150, and a patience level that it may take 12 months to build out the territory to get to OTE, then why can’t you build the case for the recruiting fee? You are spending less than you would on a proven experienced hire.
Sure there is a fee associated with hiring a seller from TechQualled. However, I think the TechQualled approach goes a long way in justifying the numbers based on the categories above. More so than both a do it yourself hiring model, or a traditional recruiter. Let me provide some bullets here:
Cost of HR – No sifting through resumes, looking for candidates, training them. We have them, and they have been thoroughly vetted and trained.
Role of the Hiring Manager – No lengthy search for candidates, interviews, references etc. Simply look through a cohort of vetted candidates (typically 12-16), select the ones you want to review and then carve out a full or half day to watch them in their role plays. Better than any interview you will put together. I promise.
Cost of a Bad Hire – Not a shot in the dark here. These people are proven leaders in their roles in the service and have now been fully trained as sellers. This, plus the ability to witness them in action mitigates the risk of a bad hire.
Entry vs Seasoned – These individuals had serious responsibilities and leadership. You will not struggle with having to spend time daily guiding them on what to do next. Additionally, they are not a seasoned seller who EXPECTS a baked territory and $300K OTE in year 1.
In summary, the value in all of this far exceeds the cost of the fee. If we can help you build out your sales team and overcome the objection on paying a fee, please reach out to us. Or just join us for a roleplay session online or in person (Fort Worth March 20-21).
I was first introduced to the role of the sales recruiter and hiring sales people back in the late 1990’s when I took my first management role at IBM. The process then, was simple, go to universities, collect resumes and schedule interviews. This works great for entry level sales roles, when people actually communicated via a sales call. Fast forward to today. If you are familiar with the evolution of the sales process. (Sirius Decisions refers to this as “The Buyers Journey“) then you know it’s not that easy anymore. Thus the importance of self driven, trained sales people are vital. This is where I was introduced to the traditional recruiting model.
We have posted several sales roles at Cima Solutions Group, and hired recruiters. Even with a recruiter, the role of a sales manager in the process really doesn’t change much. You still have to build the posting, review candidates, interview, negotiate, etc. Sure a recruiter might help bring some additional candidates, but now you have to trust the recruiter. Which candidly, I never do. So, what am I really getting from a recruiter?
Enter Tech Qualled
I spoke with Nick Breedlove two years ago when he called to introduce the organization to me. I instantly fell in love with the idea. What I liked most about it was, this was not just recruiting. It is recruiting, vetting, profiling, training, and showcasing. I don’t really like the last term, but the truth is, within this program, as a sales manager, I get to spend one day watching the 12-16 candidates in their final role plays and then interact with them over lunch dinner etc. I can do all this in one half day! No more lengthy recruitment process that typically results in two hours of interview time to base a decision on. So, when I say showcasing, yes, it’s a great showcase of the various talents these candidates posses. What I look for are things unique to the role and culture at our company. That is better than ANY interview process you have sales managers.
Worth the Investment
I have been around Technology Sales Managers for 25 years now. Most of them take a lot of pride in the value of their time. So I always question ones who say they cannot afford a recruiter. With Tech Qualled or a recruiter, there is a placement fee. If you look at the word fee, you are doing it wrong. Think about the amount of time you will spend finding the right candidate. Then, add in a confidence score related to how you vetted that candidate. Then consider your time in training someone. How many hours did you come up with? How much are you worth an hour? Starting to get the math here? What really makes all of this add up, is how the Veteran hires differentiate against a College Hire and a Seasoned Professional Sales Rep. Tune in later this week for a deep dive on that viewpoint. If you are interested in more on this perspective, hit me up on Linked-In