Accelerate: You recently partnered with leadership to improve the hiring process for the revenue team. What was your first step in establishing this partnership?
Chad: The first step was to design a template for the teammates we wanted to hire. We were hiring for sales leaders and were (and still are) hiring for enterprise account executives. Before writing a job description (which more often than not comes across pretty generic), we sat down and talked about the profile of our perfect hire. Then we built a JD to appeal to that person. Of course, previous experience is critical, but aligning a job with what someone actually wants to do is a much better way of getting the right candidates in the pipeline and then ensuring those candidates are invested in making it all the way from screen to hire and then take the job. So the actual first step is creating the ideal hire template and translating that into the job description.
Accelerate: In your opinion, what focus areas should someone focus on if they are going to take on improving the hiring process?
Chad: The most broken part of the hiring process (as someone who has been on both sides of it in the last year) is the interview process. We all know the common scenario. A candidate comes on-site and a few people have been selected to talk to them. It isn’t a high priority for some interviewers who come from different teams and occasionally pass off the interview at the last second because they are busy, overbooked, or have something they believe is a higher priority to do. Then whoever does show up, scans the resume and asks the candidate to go through their work history. They may ask about why they want the job and the best/worst scenario around skill or experience. Then the next interviewer comes in and potentially goes through a similar set of questions. At the end of the day, everyone gives “gut check” feedback and a decision is made with a relatively small data set of information.
The interview process should be structured for two things: to create a great in-depth interview experience and to uncover the largest data set possible to make the right hiring decision. A structured interview gives each interviewer a different area of skill to uncover. That should be based on the role and the skill level of the interviewer. For sales, the sales manager and/or a sales peer should focus on selling questions and experiences as well as scenario questions to see how the candidate thinks in real-time. Marketing should focus on personas and content. Who would they target, why, and how? Enablement could focus on learning style and coachability. Once the whole team gets back together, they all have a piece of the puzzle to create the full picture of the candidate and if they are the right hire. There will also be personal preference and culture fit, but it will be a part of the decision (not drive it). This approach leaves candidates feeling like they really got to tell their whole story. When I was interviewing last year and employers took this approach, I left feeling like the team “got me”. In the generic resume driven interviews, more often than not I just dropped out of the process.
Accelerate: Once a partnership is established, what tips can you share for serving as a coach to the sales management and HR teams to support them in the interview process?
Chad: The HR team is the unsung champions of the business because they staff the people who devise, drive, or execute the strategy of the executive team. They also create a funnel of talent that will ultimately drive the culture. They are also not salespeople. The more information you give them and the more they understand what a great sales hire looks like, the less they will waste your time with “definitely no” interviews. Sales Leaders want to hit their numbers, so they are invested in hires that can come in and ramp quickly to a full quota bearing over-performing sales rep. Enablement should act as a partner with and connector between hiring and sales leadership. Enablement should work on the ideal candidate template with the sales managers then work on translating that into the JD for recruiting. They should champion referral and sourcing efforts across sales leadership to fill the talent funnel. Enablement should partner with both teams to create a structured interview process. The last step, which is new for me, but has already had a positive impact on the process – Enablement should act as a partner to late-stage candidates to prepare them to succeed. We have recently developed a “sales process to close ideal candidates”. My role in that is to be on call for these late-stage ideal candidates to help them prepare an onsite presentation. I schedule a preparation call and then stay in email communication with them to make sure when they come onsite they are prepared to shine. All the while, I am selling the company and the culture. The goal is to get to the yes on all sides as quickly as possible.
Accelerate: What was the most challenging aspect of overhauling the interview process?
Chad: The most challenging part is getting everyone on the same page to make the process change. Hiring is one of the most critical challenges for company growth and success, yet in the day to day lives of most people involved it’s a lesser priority. Salespeople want to sell. Managers get burned out after days and days of interviews. It isn’t something most people look forward to – but it can be.
First, you have to create the win/win scenario of making the change. You get fewer candidates who are more qualified onsite. You have a premade template of questions for interviews which requires less time to prepare. Everyone has to commit to executing the newly structured process, but when everyone is on board the consistency of the process actually makes it easier. Imagine that – doing more work on the front end to save time in the long haul!
Accelerate: In addition to regular travel for work, you’re also a sought after speaker, avid networker, and a published author of two books. What are your best practices for maintaining balance?
Chad: I schedule balance and then give myself permission to cheat when my body tells me it’s necessary. My work week is focused on work with two exceptions. I schedule an hour demoing tools which could be work-related unless you are out of budget and locked into a project plan, but that is part of my commitment to learning and being a reliable Vendor Advocate. I also spend an hour of Ops/Enabler time where I have coffee, schedule a zoom, or join a group dinner to talk about Operations or Enablement. The rest is relegated to my 4-hour window of weekend work. I spend 4 hours every weekend either writing, planning presentations, or on other learning projects related projects that are not related to my day to day job. It may sound like a lot, but I go to the same Starbucks (I’m actually writing this at my Starbucks now) for either 2 hours Saturday and 2 hours Sunday or sometimes when I am on a roll and want a full day off, I knock out all 4 hours in one day. I get a lot done. It doesn’t happen often, but when my body tells me to I take the whole day off to binge-watch Netflix or walk around New York City. Everyone needs a break from time to time.
Accelerate: In your opinion, what makes a good enablement leader?
Chad: Empathy. I could literally just stop there. Enablement leaders exist in the space and strategy between a lot of other functions and to gain buy-in – which is what empathy is mainly used for – Enablement leaders have to understand the pain, pressure, and priorities of their partners and leverage our teams and projects to support those functions and partners in ways that drive the right business outcomes.
Accelerate: What tips do you have for someone trying to make a career change to enablement?
Chad: Enablement looks a lot easier and more fun than it typically is and the energy, empathy, intellectual curiosity, and bias to action that it takes to make an impact in an enablement role can be a lot more subjective resulting in a slow path to professional success.
BUT if you love helping people be better, you are a process-oriented person, and you have had experience or can demonstrate a deep understanding of sales, marketing, and/or learning and development it is an incredibly rewarding career path.
Bonus – Enablement leaders all over the world are easily the most giving and collaborative group of people I’ve ever encountered, so if you find yourself in an Enablement role, you should prioritize building out your Enablement network and leverage the best minds in the field to supercharge your Enablement projects and develop your Enablement skills.
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