Like virtually every other person in tech, I spend my day on video conferences. What was once primarily a face-to-face business has become virtual. Now, I spend my days working with CEOs and board members to create the spec for sales leaders who can sell in the face of the downturn caused by Covid-19. And, I’m doing it over Zoom, FaceTime, Google or other platforms that allow me to meet face to face and share data and presentations virtually. Even before the crisis, fifty-eight (58%) of the U.S. workforce was utilizing video conferencing daily. Since the outbreak, Zoom, the leading video conferencing platform, has watched its shares double in value to $40 billion. And, the Zoom iOS app went from 50,000 daily downloads to two million1. Business is continuing. Doing business virtually on video conferences is the new reality.
But, what about the actual hiring process? I have wondered if companies and candidates would actually pull the trigger on a hire with little (if any) face to face contact. It turns out that the answer is yes. In our early April survey of tech CEOs and executives, thirty-nine percent (39%) believe that sales will hold steady or even slightly improve in spite of the downturn. What’s more, twenty-percent (20%) believe that their company will actually experience growth in the next 12 months. Finally, of these companies, seventy-five (75%) believe that a CRO or VP of sales is essential to success…maybe like never before. Many of these leaders are being forced to hire a CRO or VP of Sales, without the luxury of face to face interviews.
Real-World Success (Virtually)
A few weeks before the crisis began, I began a search for a software company in the Midwest. I began working with the CEO and private equity team to find a VP of Sales with very specific skills and a strong cultural fit. I thought that the search would be challenging, even in the best of times, because of the specialization needed.
The search followed standard stages, beginning with searching our known universe of candidates, finding those who are qualified and also open to a new position, and refining the search until we landed on the right candidate. The entire search was conducted virtually. Through telephone and video conferencing, we were able to find and vet candidates, and narrow the search to a shortlist.
We narrowed the focus on two candidates through online interviews, reference checking and personality profiling. The final candidate was identified, but was several states away from the headquarters. With Covid-19 travel restrictions, the final interviews were done remotely, via video conference. Negotiations were completed and the new VP of Sales was hired quickly—without ever visiting HQ.
My observations of the search were that: 1) it moved faster than other searches due to simplified scheduling and no need for travel, 2) video conferencing worked as effectively as face-to-face meetings in terms of delving into work style, accomplishments, fit factors, and skills, and 3) in the first month on the job, the new VP of Sales is well integrated into the organization and is beginning to show success.
Video Conferencing Enables More Efficient Recruiting, Interviewing, and Onboarding
Recruiting: Once the company and the recruiter land on a shortlist of candidates, it’s critical that the company sell the position, and the candidate sells his or her qualifications. Using desktop sharing technology, it’s easy for the recruiter to share important information about the market, products, competitive positioning and to have productive interactions with candidates.
Interviewing: Candidates can be interviewed by a committee, or by individual executives easily through video conferencing. Meetings can be recorded and easily shared for optimal efficiency. Candidates can present materials and respond to questions openly. What’s more, through dialogue, the candidate and the interviewing company can gain an understanding of a person’s work style and personality through video.
Onboarding: Once a successful candidate is on board, standard materials can be shared and consumed on demand by the new employee. In addition, virtual team meetings make it easy for the new leader to address his or her staff from a central location, across time zones and geographies. This creates efficiency in setting goals, communicating objectives and establishing processes.
Don’t Wait for a Face-to-Face to Recruit Top Talent – From Anywhere
Top companies are adopting collaborative technology because the modern workplace is no longer defined by a physical space. Sales leaders, by nature, are fast-moving individuals who appreciate a well-run, timely recruiting process. They’re used to selling and conducting business remotely. These seasoned executives have more choices than ever, and will gravitate to organizations that provide flexibility and accommodate remote relationship building and decision making. And, remote recruiting is good for your company. When hired, the new CRO or VP of Sales will be collaborating with far-flung team members and partners or customers across the country or around the globe. This distributed business environment will continue to be the norm, and will expand as new remote collaboration and communication technologies are adopted.
The right hire is probably not within a reasonable commute distance from your company HQ. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t find, recruit, interview and land the very best person for your open role. Your next major contributor may be across the state, across the country, or across the ocean.