How to Recruit Top-Notch Sales People

This week on Digital Conversations, Billy speaks with Royce Robbins. Talent Acquisition Advisor at Zip Co. He goes over the challenges of recruiting, and gives 4 keys to improving your process. He focuses on slowing down and having a repeatable process that salespeople can own.

Guest: Royce Robbins is an experienced and accomplished leader and speaker with a proven record at developing effective operation strategies, overseeing critical technology infrastructure projects and implementing winning growth strategies in a dynamic, effective, and targeted team-based environment. He has over 14 years experience in both sales and recruitment, with a focus on coaching and mentoring people to acheive better performance and revenue growth. Connect with him on LinkedIn!


Billy: Alright everyone, welcome to digital conversations. I am your host Billy Bateman. And today I am joined by Royce Robbins sales recruiting guru. Royce, how you doing, man?

Royce: Doing well, how about yourself?

Billy: Doing good. I’m really excited to, to chat with you today about how to go about recruiting top sales talent. But before we get into that, tell us just a little bit about yourself and about your journey to get where you are today.

Royce: Yeah, I’m more than happy to do that. It’s been an interesting journey. I think most people could say that about where they started. In fact, I started in sales selling cars, which is an interesting gambit because it’s how I met my wife. So nice backstory in there, and I sold her a Mustang, and then we started dating. But I got into corporate sales and doing a lot of learning and talent type solutions, and dealing with with large government organizations, and big multinational corporations, from a learning and development standpoint.

Then I slowly progressed into there. When I got into recruiting it wasn’t because I set out to do this, I didn’t go to school as an HR professional or anything like that. In fact, it was wasn’t even something I considered doing. I’d done it as part of my job building teams and hiring people to be a part of my team and things of that nature. But it was more necessity than it was anything else. Right? I needed somebody I had a pain point I had to get this person in. So that I could actually focus on what I needed to be doing.

I got a call actually, from a gentleman by the name of Brent Thompson over at Peak Sales, just out of the blue, wasn’t expecting it. And he brought me in, had a conversation. He said, have you ever considered this and I said, No, I haven’t. And, lo and behold, ended up starting. And I remember coming home and talking to my wife, and I’ve told the story a number of times, but it was within the first week. I knew that I said to her, I said I haven’t found something I’m good at, I’m really good at this, this is fun. And it’s not often you get that type of experience. When you get into something and you look at and go, wow, this is really, really interesting.

I’ve really enjoyed being in the sales recruiting space, specifically. I’ve helped hyper growth companies around the world grow sales, operations, marketing support teams. I’m currently doing that right now heavily in the UK market. What’s really interesting around that is helping and an organization actually achieve some of the growth aspirations they have by ensuring and getting the right people on that. I got started in recruiting and getting into sales through Peak Sales, and it’s just grown beyond that to to where I am today.

Billy: Awesome, awesome, man. So one of the things, I think recruiters, they get a bad rap sometimes. We’ve all got it on LinkedIn, it looks like they sent the same message to like 100 people. You talked about starting out in different industries. Well, I actually went to school for my undergrad in in real estate, investment management,

Royce: Aerospace engineering for me.

Billy: Yeah, and I love real estate. I worked in it for a few years commercial real estate, managing anything from like, big apartment complexes, to the giant malls. And then just, kind of got bored with they wanted to get into software. I still to this day, get recruiters saying, hey, I’ve got this great job in real estate for you. And I’m like, did you even look and see like, I’ve kind of moved on. But when you’re looking for to recruiting salespeople, which I think is a tough thing to do. Is to recruiting really good salespeople? What are some of the what are some of the opportunities that you see people not taking advantage of right now?

Royce: Well, the first one is slow down. And as a really hard one to do. Right? So when we’re looking at this world, you’ve put yourself in the chair of any sort of sales leader. They’re looking at going Geez, if I don’t hit my target for this month, it means x y Zed. Like it could mean that I lose headcount, could mean that it shuts down, could mean that we can’t pay the bills, like any number of different things. There’s dire consequences to not hitting targets and that pressure is real and needs to be recognized. But I find a lot of times what happens is we’re rushing too often, at the very beginning of the conversation, when we start looking at going.

What does great sales talent look like? And it’s not the same. It’s not a cookie cutter mold. So you say I’ve dealt with terrible recruiters or sending out form letters and essentially spamming people. We got great marketers out there who do the same thing, right? Let’s be honest, I just unsubscribe from four or five email lists that I didn’t even realize was on today alone, right? And going, why am I getting this like this? Nothing what I want. And so it doesn’t relate to me in any sort of way. So what I find is a lot of times, we have to take a step back as recruiters when we start talking to sales leaders, and really understand it’s no different than when sales leaders trying to talk into a prospect.

We need to slow down and find out what the real pain is, why is this happening? What is not going right? So what is the solution you’re really truly looking for? I mean, we are taught this in the sales whether there’s challengers, spin. You name any number of these methodologies that we adhere to in the sales world. The same applies actually, when we’re recruiting sales talent. Then you can get into the metrics, I mean, so recruiting is very similar, like the second cousin of sales, right? So there’s a funnel lenders, there’s metrics around that, and you you do adhere to them. But at the very beginning, it’s about having a good conversation with all the stakeholders who are in part of this, and really, truly understanding what that could be.

I’ll give you a couple of examples, maybe like, so. Example number one would be, we can’t seem to find the right person, no matter who we hire. They’re terrible. Right? Well, there’s a root cause to why they’re terrible. Is it you don’t onboard people properly? I mean, I’ve had conversations with people going, Oh, this new hire, it’s not doing so well. They’re not really hitting their metrics, like, Okay, well, so how was your weekly one on one with them? Because they’re remote employee? And he goes, Well, I don’t have those. I just expect him to tell me what’s going on. And I went. Okay, so we need to have a conversation around onboarding and employee engagement and, ensuring that you’re actually staying in touch with people you hire. Right.

There’s always a cause of this. And if we don’t understand that we can address it in the future. There’s a lot around that, that that needs that conversation, it needs to be way more in depth than, Hey, I just want somebody who can, you know, sell this pen to me in 30 seconds flat?

Billy: I mean, do you want that guy. I mean, sometimes I wonder like, because recruiting salespeople as part of my job right now. And what I’ve found, at least for us is, we have a process of how we sell, and the guys who are like, yeah, I’m the lone wolf. And they, they just know how to do it. Like, those guys are amazing. They’re not always the best fit for every company. Because they don’t stick to the process. And we’re okay, we’re just trying to run a process that’s repeatable. Sometimes these kids, they can’t sell you the pen in 30 seconds. But they could a great salespeople.

Royce: Yeah. Well, I mean, I think that’s where you just hit around the head. Having a repeatable process is probably the biggest key to success in anything you do in life, right? So we look at this going, how is it I get out of the door at 8:30 every morning and arrive at work at nine? Well, it’s a process that we take every single morning, we make sure we do certain steps that we show up. Our shirts not hanging out, we’ve brushed your teeth, and we look good, right? We go through this in our in our regular lives. And we need to apply that when we’re assessing sales talent.

One of the best books out there that I’ve enjoyed, and I go back to. It’s pretty extensive, maybe more than you need it to be. But that’s the point of it. It’s top grading for sales salespeople. It’s not a big book, but it’s one of the ones I recommend anybody who doesn’t understand how to assess sales talent, because it gives you a baseline to go, oh, here’s some of the questions I should be asking. Right. So a greatest indicator of future success is not always past success. But it is a good indication, right? It doesn’t guarantee future success.

It’s not about going, Hey, I sold the biggest deal in company history. It is really actually diving into the process of how they sold that, how they actually acquired it, how they walk the client through the journey, how they actually did that, again, with another client and another client and another client. And that’s where you can get sales talent, quite frankly, that can jump verticals, and they’re agnostic when it comes to the industry, and they just need to learn the product and solution, but they can come in. Even when you have somebody who goes in here.

I like to do this, I have a process, but they can come in and look and going hey, I understand what you’re doing. Here’s what I would tweak. Here’s what I would do, here’s how I would approach it. That’s going to give you a better sense of whether or not they’re going to be successful. Can they own the process versus adhere to the process. To adhear the process is just a bum in a seat. That’s replaceable. And that’s not going to 10X you. That’s not going to get you to leapfrog your competition. What you need is somebody who can own the process and grow it.

Billy: Awesome. I agree. So another question with this, the world has changed in the last seven, eight months. With COVID. Recruiting remotely. A lot of companies have gone, if not full remote, at least more remote than they were. And traditionally, what I’ve seen with companies I’ve worked at is, sales guys are not remote. For the most part, maybe enterprise. Field reps are more remote, but the main, inside sales team like they’re in there every day, they’re all together, they’re down to the bullpen. They’re making it happen. Now, that’s not happening as much. And recruiting, it can be a little tougher when it’s it’s all over a zoom meeting, for the most part. How do people overcome those challenges? And are there any opportunities you see that go along with that?

Royce: Sure. This was this was something that’s actually not new, it’s just only accelerated with the advent of COVID. And everything that is done globally. I’m working right now with a team that’s globally dispersed. I’m talking to Australia and UK and across the US, Canada, and like, all over the place. I remember having conversations with colleagues working, two years ago, and going, you need to get used to video and and the pushback that we get from that. Doing things remotely and using video was was tangible. And it used to go well, no, you understand it is going this way it is going to happen. Some of the challenges around that it comes back to that process they were talking about? That is do you have a process. Is everybody singing from the same song sheet.

So when you look at different interviewing processes that are coming in, is your recruiter understand what their stake in that whole process is? And then when they hand it off to a hiring manager, the next in there? Do they understand what their stake is, and then when they hired off to a second hiring manager, what their stake is in there. I think the one thing that connects all of that together more than anything else is and we talked about in sales and the customer journey. It’s the communication, right? So What you don’t want is you don’t want you know, blind emails going out to somebody, saying nothing. What you want is you need a high level of engagement with candidates throughout that journey. Right. It’s multiple touch points, it’s consistent follow up and feedback. Making sure you’re investing the time and people.

I’ve always felt this way. But I think it’s been heightened how important people really are, right? So if there’s one thing we see with all the stuff that’s been going on worldwide, is that people really are important, and we should be investing and spending time with them. If we look at those going, I’m just looking to fill a bum in a seat, is that really valuing that person who is going to sit in that seat and drive success for the company for the period of time they’re with you? That could be six months? Obviously, we don’t want that and sales were longer than six months? Could be six years, right? Could be 20 years. But are they going to be valued? And are we actually investing in them? While, they’re here. While, they’re engaged with us for the time that they’re engaged with us.

Billy: Awesome. Yeah, I agree. Really valuing and communicating with people. We’re mostly still in the office, we’re a small team, and we have a decent sized office where we can spread out. The recruiting, we wait a lot longer before we bring somebody in for an interview. We’re doing it over the phone over zoom. And I agree with you like, you’ve almost got to over communicate compared to what we used to do during that whole process. When you’re not going to see them face to face very often during the recruiting process. And even from the time you make an offer to when they start working for you because you can lose them in between there when you think you’ve got my guy, it’s sometimes it doesn’t happen.

Royce: Well, that’s that’s not new. That’s not a new thing.

And again, it goes back to that what’s the source issue there? Right? Do you have true engagement? Did you read actually have buy in? Right, when you talk about. We let’s go back to sales again. I mean, it really does come back, recruiting is so similar to sales. And we’re recruiting salespeople, we’re essentially using a lot of the same skills, tactics approaches that we would use with a with a client. Right?

So I mean, you’re looking for true engagement buying, you’re looking for people to start using the we terms, not the I terms. When you see that progress in that change, so that you can see them in the seat, and then staying in touch with them on a consistent basis to ensure that they do show up day one. I always look back going as leaders that’s on us, that’s not on the candidate, right. That’s on us as leaders to ensure that we’re actually doing our job and investing in our people and making sure that they understand how important they are to to us.

Billy: Great. So let’s shift gears just a little bit. And I want to ask you, we’re recruiting salespeople, you’ve realized I’ve got one or two candidates that we think are going to be winners for us. Now, the next part of that is, how do I sell them on chat funnels? Or my business being the best fit for them? So what are some of the strategies that that you would suggest using when you’re trying to sell the salesperson?

Royce: Yeah, so I’m going to go back and use a car analogy. And I think a lot of people can relate to this. So your walk into the dealership, and the salesperson comes up, and they go, Oh, are you here to buy a car? Well, yeah, I came in to buy a car. What are you looking for? I’m not quite sure what I’m looking for. I mean, I’ve got two kids and wife and we need to be able to get around, get groceries and stuff like that. And so they walk you over to a vehicle it does that. Could be a Station Wagon, doesn’t really matter in this scenario. Then they proceed to literally tell you about every nut and bolt on the entire vehicle. Is that a great experience? Now eyes are glazed over, you’re looking at going okay.

Billy: Unless you’re an engineer, or if you were trying to sell me on the newest, like Raptor or four wheel drive truck? Oh, yeah, I mean, but most of the time no.

Royce: No, you gotta want to have that conversation and majority of people don’t. Why do I use as an example, I find a lot of times we can get into this, and I’ve had this conversation with people going, Yeah, but look at the benefits we have. I’m like, that may not be the reason they’re joining. Most people don’t, they almost look at that as table stakes. Well, if you don’t have these benefits, then I wouldn’t even be talking to you in the first place. If you’re not within commuting distance, I’m probably not talking to you anyways, right.

So these are very basic table stakes. And we like to look at it going well look at all the features that I’m giving. Look at all the benefits I’m giving you to join. What you’ve missed there when you got these candidates is you have to be painting a picture. So I look at it this way, I say, when you’re talking about recruiting, you are not selling the picture. You’re actually selling the gilded frame. So when you look at this and going, here’s the gilded frame. I’m going to paint and create that frame for you to look through the lens, if you will, that you’re going to perceive this opportunity and role for you. Because naturally, we start looking at how humans think right? So we get into psychology a little bit.

We are naturally inclined to you to to look at this from a positive perspective, right? So put our rose colored glasses on, and we are going to actually fill in the picture the way that we perceive it. Okay. And that’s a good thing for us. So it’s not misleading. I’m not saying that we should be lying to people. No, the opposite. What I’m saying is you’re providing a proper framework for people to view or a lens to view the role within. And you’re doing that throughout the process. So it should be beginning by painting a real good picture of what the challenge is.

Here’s a critical thing. We talk about people, people don’t leave for a product. If they did, there would only be one fast food joint to be called McDonald’s. They would rule the world right? When there, Sylvester Stallone, Taco Bell? Won the war there, right? And Demolition Man, the only was literally the one? That’s all there would be there would be one, right? But the reality is, is that there’s lots of different variances out there.

So when we look at this going, why do people leave one organization for another outside of I need a job and I’ve got to pay. The Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, right like the basic. Beyond that they don’t need to leave. They’re gainfully employed, how do I get them to actually come and talk to me? Well, I need to actually give them a challenge that they’re excited about and can engage in, right. So I look at this going in sounds big, it’s purposeful, how are they going to change the world doing what they do?

Let’s use an example that we talked about Amazon, and they have massive warehouses with people who literally all they do is pack boxes with things. Now, if you looked at going. Billy, I’d like you to come over here. And for the next eight hours, I just want you to fold boxes, filled them with things, tape them and send them out. So that sound fun. Does that sound amazing.

Billy: I mean, maybe for one day. It’s nice change of pace.

Royce: But if you look at what they’ve done, and the whole ecosystem, Amazon. They’ve changed the conversation around how they’re changing the world through e commerce. You’re joining a greater team that is actually changing how we interact with commerce. How we actually get the things we need in our lives. When we need them how we need them. And that goes from right from the top. Right through the bottom and you look at any big organization that has been successful like this or even small. They’ve figured out how to actually create that challenge that gets people excited about what they’re doing.

Billy: Yeah. I love it. So, before I let you go let’s talk about a small company. If you’re recruiting salespeople for a startup, it’s got 20 to 30 people. They’ve got some traction, but a lot of people still don’t know who they are. They’re still carving out a brand. And you’re recruiting a sales team? What are some of the challenges that you would you would use to sell those salespeople on? Hey, come join this ship?

Royce: Yeah. So I mean, again there is going to be unique value proposition that that that company is going to have? That doesn’t mean that they’re, number one in the market, or there’s not competitors in the place. In fact, I look at competition is a great thing. Why is it we see gas stations clustered together? Well, it actually does work, right? It brings all the people into one space, and then ultimately, they make a decision. And then it’s your job to try and make them choose you. How do you attract talent. really comes back to slow down, figure out the process.

What problem are you trying to solve? Short of, yes, we know you need more sales, you need more revenue. That’s an outcome that is not a beginning. That’s your outcome. Right? So if you’re not getting the outcome you need, you need to backtrack and find out do you have the right people on your team? Do they have the ability to have the conversation with the right level? Do they have a repeatable process that they own, expand and grow? Are they excited by your value proposition what you guys are doing.

Whether you’re in the medical field or you’re literally doing farm implements. It doesn’t really matter. Use farm implements, you’re feeding the world. I mean, you couldn’t get a better way to phrase that no matter where you are. It’s why farmers do what they do, because they they enjoy contributing to society and being such a critical part of the food chain. In cities we wouldn’t thrive with we didn’t have farmers.

So there’s always a value proposition you can do that will attract the candidates. And then if you have a high level of engagement throughout the entire process, there the likelihood of people falling off or removing themselves from the process before you know that they’ve got other considerations is going to be nullified or it’s going to be reduced ultimately, if that makes sense.

Billy: It does make sense. Okay, Royce, we’re running out of time. But before I let you go, if people want to contact you and continue the conversation, what’s the best way for them toreach out?

Royce: Yeah, LinkedIn probably the easiest. I’m on it as a platform regularly so you can find me I mean, there’s not a whole lot of Royce Robbins out there. It’s pretty unique name. I do look at and go, that’s the best easiest way to get a hold of me. And I do respond so I don’t ignore those people who reach out.

Billy: Okay, thank you Royce. Really great stuff. And it we’ll chat later, man.