Amy Volas is a sales fanatic turned entrepreneur, bitten by the startup bug many moons ago and couldn’t imagine spending her time anywhere else. She created Avenue Talent Partners to help with the tremendous task of growing startups through one of their most valuable assets—salespeople.
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Ali Mirza: Alright! Thank you so much everybody for joining us today. I would like to invite a very, very special guest on the show. She is a twenty years sales that a close personal friend of mine. She started off as a technical recruiter but then being thrust into sales. She somehow caught the bug as most of us have and has never looked back. Founder of Avenue Talent Partners, very special guest on here today, Amy Volas. Amy, thank you so much for joining us on For The Close Podcast, how are you doing today?
Amy Volas: I’m doing well and thank you Ali! I love that we’re going to be talking like this. We talk offline all the time so, this is awesome. Thank you for having me.
Ali Mirza: And so… and to exactly to your point. And so, Amy you just said we talk offline all the time we’d probably talked two or three time-ish a month if between our busy schedules. And Amy, is it fair to say that when we speak half the time we’re usually… if not more we’re making fun of somebody, we’re making fun of something we’ve seen on LinkedIn, we’re… obviously we’re… we’re going to try and keep it clean here today, we’re not going to call anybody out. But I would say most of the time when we’re talking it goes pretty off the rails and 9 times out of 10 it’s just making fun of somebody and the BS that we see out there in the market place is that fair statement?
Amy Volas: It is. And I think we make of fun of each other too at the same time so, yeah!
Ali Mirza: Got it.
Amy Volas: No! Nothing’s off limit.
Ali Mirza: Amy, there’s nothing you could possibly say to make fun of me, I’m perfect, right?
Amy Volas: Perfect.
Ali Mirza: Okay! So, for those of you who don’t know, Amy has next to no filter, Amy will say whatever the first thing and she will tell you exactly how it is. And half the time that I’m done speaking to Amy I’m always just like “Why do I feel like I just got yelled at?” But in like the nicest way possible I feel good like she made me a better person but she have to tear me down first. So, I definitely…
Amy Volas: A tough log.
Ali Mirza: Tough log. Definitely someone that I have…
Amy Volas: [00:02:04.12] [Crosstalk] [Unintelligible]
Ali Mirza: There you go! Someone that have a lot of respect. Also I think everyone that’s listening here today definitely is in for a treat.
Amy Volas: Yes.
Ali Mirza: Now, so as I mentioned Amy is a recruiter. Amy, I just want to take a couple little steps back here even do in this for a minute now. Tell us how you got in to this, tell us a little bit about your experience and I want… I’m going to say this; Amy is the only recruiter that I trust. Amy is by far and away the only recruiter that I’ve ever sent to anybody that has come back with such glowing reviews. And I don’t know if the people here listening have had bad experience with the recruiters but, when I tell you Amy is legit this is like that kid on YouTube legitness, Amy is legitness. Alright! Amy, give us the scoop, give us the page. Where do you come from? How did you get into this and why do you do this?
Amy Volas: Yeah! First of all, thank you. That means the world and I feel the same about you when it comes to sales consulting, right? So, the feeling is mutual.
Ali Mirza: Yeah.
Amy Volas: So, for me sales is my first love, it’s where I grew up, it’s the language that I speak fluently. I go that far back where the oversegmentation and you and I have agreed to disagree on this topic. That happens in sales, it wasn’t happening when I grew up. So, I’ve done customer success, I’ve done account management, I’ve done the whole hunting for new logos and then the upsell and the retention and the growth that comes along with that. I didn’t have an appointment setter and I’m also been in sales leadership. I spent a big part of my career inside the HR Tech and recruitment industry. And the number one thing that really has had an indelible impression on me has been the fact that it doesn’t matter what year it is, what it is, where the location is, how big or small the company is. The number one thing that people will tell me is I don’t have a problem finding people; I have a problem finding the right people. And how do I bridge that quality-quantity gap to spending my time wisely because I only have so many hours in a day. How do I know that I’m spending my time on the right people? And so that coupled with my own experience of being approached by recruiters in a really cringeworthy icky way.
Ali Mirza: Right.
Amy Volas: All the feedback that I’ve gotten about why recruiting is wrong. Not just external but also internal and not trusting their internal partners and things along those lines. All of that stuff has just really sat with me through the years and if you would have asked me 5 years ago… ATP has been around for 3… Over 3 now. But, if you would have asked me 5 years ago, hey! you’re going to own a sales recruiting firm but that just deals with startup’s, I would have left you out of the room then like grouse no! And thinks that’s not me. But with that statement really comes an opportunity and so I think for entrepreneurs were in two different buckets. One, you come up with something that is unique and special and innovative and it’s going to change the game, the Uber’s of the world.
Ali Mirza: Right.
Amy Volas: Or two, you’ve been around the block for a while and you see a tremendous opportunity to make something better. I’m door number two and the reason why I started this was to take the language that I speak fluently which is sales. I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of success in my sales career. And my second business love is startups and to see the dynamic nature of when you need to scale and you need to scale quickly what sales hiring looks like. When you don’t get it right which is really painful and when you do get it right what that looks like. And so, all of that I put into the blender and outcomes the recipe for ATP and why we’re doing what we’re doing and it’s really to collaborate with our clients to make sure that they get it right the first time. All that’s infused with phenomenal service both on the candidate side as well as the client side. And make sure that everybody regardless about comes feels good about what just happened and understands why and we learned from it and we get better from it. That’s my gem.
Ali Mirza: Love it! No! I love it! Love it! And so, so Amy and I, we’ve got a soft spot for each other ’cause I’m going to say this Amy and you correct me if I’m wrong here in any way because I don’t want to…
Amy Volas: Not at all.
Ali Mirza: I know you will. We both prefer dealing with founders, I definitely do, I think you do as well. And there’s, and it’s not that we have a problem with dealing with you know other VP’s and whatnot. But, a lot of times at least for me I always find that if I’m dealing with another VP they’re always becomes this ego measuring. Right now, say ego measuring I think we all know what I.., what specifically I mean. And that person just turns into the wet blanket in the room, right? And I like dealing with the founders. And so, Amy? How do you handle that knowing that sometimes you’re going to be dealing with some people that just don’t truly understand? What is your process of getting them to understand? How you want an ally on their side and not necessarily someone that’s called in because they can’t do what they’re supposed to do? Like how do you show them that it’s a parallel track not on this or that?
Amy Volas: Yup! So, I have love for the founders and to alienate any of my CEO or VP friends because I have mad love for them too. But to do what you’re talking about is the reason why I have mad love for them. So, everything that has served me incredibly well in my own sales career comes from the fact that I believe in the power of discovery and rediscovery. And so, if I’m talking to founder and we’re getting to know each other and they’re telling me that their task at hand and what’s important about them, and why it’s time to grow or scale, or they just got funding, or whatever the drivers of demand are. For me it’s about really listening to that and making note of that and regurgitating it back to them to say “Okay, so here’s my understanding, here’s what you what need, here’s why you may potentially need me or not but this is what’s going, am I right? Did I miss something? Correct me, jump in on me” and I pay attention to that and I confirm and reconfirm that every step of the way. So, that if for some reason we’re going straight ahead and the wrench is thrown in to it and I’m now in the left lane when I should be in the middle lane. It’s a good opportunity to just pause and say “Hey! This is what we’ve all talked about, this is what’s important, this is what’s starting to happen, what’s going on? Why? Is there something that we’re missing that’s important to you that we didn’t uncover? Why is this changing? What’s going on?” And it’s to remove that adversarial sort of… there’s bad language that’s floating around my head turn pissing me [00:08:47.19] [CrossTalk] [Unintelligible]
Ali Mirza: You?! No!
Amy Volas: No! I know! But it’s to take all of that ego out of it and it’s to really understand well, why are you feeling threatened? Or why are you displeased with what’s going on or why do we have a difference in opinion here and it’s about…
Ali Mirza: No, hang on, hang on, hang on. Do you actually say that or is that kind of, is that your strategy and you’re trying to get at that and without saying those words?
Amy Volas: I usually can’t. I may be yes. So, anybody that works with me, one of the things that I disclaim is I am a straight shooting kind of gal.
Ali Mirza: Yeah.
Amy Volas: Card [00:09:23.11] [placing] the table. It is always from a loving place but I don’t do politics very well. And if I see that something’s happening, we need to have safe places to be upfront with each other because we’re talking about people and hiring. At least that’s the conversation that I’m having. People lie, they change their mind they don’t always tell you the full story, things changing your startup. And if we’re going through the dynamicness of change or not having the full story, we’ve got to be on the same page of being able to shoot each other straight. It’s not that I’m afraid to have that conversation it is also wraps with all due respect of “Hey! Look! This is what I’m hearing. Something going on, did I get it wrong?”. You know, by the way it’s not just one sided where I’m going to be direct with them, I want it in return.
Ali Mirza: Right.
Amy Volas: I want you to shoot me straight, I celebrate radical transparency, I want to know. Even if I don’t like hearing it, I want to know. And so, I think because I’m a big fan that you set the stage early and often for expectation that’s a huge part of success in any aspect of business. That if the expectations that we’ve set mutually together, if those are changing, if the landscape changing or the game is changing, why? Right?
Ali Mirza: Right.
Amy Volas: And it’s may be not to be so direct or bold as to be like well, what’s going on? It might be more in line of here’s what I understood, here’s what we’ve been doing, why? That one question that one were, I mean everybody that knows me knows I love Simon Sinek. Having a wire, understanding the why that is huge and if things start falling off the rail, why?
Ali Mirza: Right. Got it, got it. Alright. Let’s shift gears a little bit here.
Amy Volas: Yeah.
Ali Mirza: I want to get BAS tax here. I made a comment earlier that you’re the only recruiter that I trust, let’s put that aside for a second. I want you to dissect for the audience why that is why are you the only… or sorry let me rephrase that. Let me put it to the way that I mentioned earlier in terms of a real estate agent right? 95% and if I’m being generous it’s 95% of real estate agents don’t… are absolutely garbage, absolute trash, they tell you all the stuff that they’re going to do but what do they do, they grab your list, they get your house, right? They throw it up on MLS and then they wait for someone to come in and then they do next to no negotiation, well this is offer and it’s a buyer’s market, it’s a seller’s market and they’re not really, they don’t really help you as much; that’s most agents. When you find that good agent right? They’re worth their weight and gold right? And they really do genuinely help you. I equate and you tell me if I’m right or wrong, but I equate recruiters do the same. Most recruiters are absolute horrible. They take your job, they throw up a job posting on couple of different websites they wait for people to apply or they just have automated spam that goes out on LinkedIn and they just wait, right? And then they want a big fat check. And I’m all for commission, right? The fatter the check the happier I am but earn it, right? Do something for it. Am I right? Am I wrong? If I’m right, tell me how, why, how can a founder avoid that trap?
Amy Volas: You’re right. I hear about it all the time. Oftentimes, I’m brought in to clean up the mess after the fact and I find that all that bad behavior. I deemed it as bad behavior. Makes it incredibly difficult for those that are trying to do it right that care about the task at hand. All the more difficult to establish that trust. So, to answer your question, how does a finder… or finder, excuse me. How does a founder…
Ali Mirza: How does a founder find?
Amy Volas: Yes, I know. How does a founder cut through the clutter to know that they’re going to get it right? I think it starts with their expectations and I was recently talking to a VC earlier this morning about what he had seen in their portfolio company is in terms of the common scenes of where founders struggle. And so, I think it’s important to talk about what I see because I very much agree with what he said but also some of that proof of, not just me, right? This is something that most would agree with I think. And by the way this VC has hundreds of companies in their portfolio so, he’s got some straight curve with me. I think it’s checking your ego for a second and looking at the relationship as a collaboration versus a vendor versus someone that’s just going to go and get you some people, I just need butts and seats. Those folks that have that mindsets tend to turn and have high turn rates, or they look at it like a software release like you know what? I need to hire a cohort of people, I’m the MVP of this thing. And ultimately, you’re talking about people, their lives, their careers and your business and your business can’t do what it needs to do without the people to get there. And so I think for founders just take a step back before you really engage with a recruiter. Ask yourself a couple of questions. One, do I really know what I want? Right? What does that really look like? Have you’ve done the work to map out or connect the dots on? Here’s what we’re seeing today, here’s what I’m seeing especially founders that are in the sales trenches themselves. What part of that process do you want to offload? Do you want to offload all of it? Some of it? Who is your buyer? What are they telling you? Why is it time to hire? All of these things are items that you should really be thinking about and nail down before you pick up the phone and start talking to recruiters. That’s one. Two, is do you know how to manage expectations around working with a recruiter. If somebody tells you well inside of three days I’m going to have fifty people in front you. You’re going to get excited about that maybe but that’s terrible. That means that you have a bad candidate experience at all absolutely affect your brand in the marketplace, glass door, referrals, all these things that do matter. Candidate experience in terms of these are people that maybe heard about your job for five minutes while pitched hard and you don’t know if those dots connects between your task at hand, your mission, what you’re building and what’s important to them. And that absolutely needs to correlate, if it doesn’t you have a problem. Is your recruiter taking that seriously? Are they spending that time to really understand you and why your business is different and why this is different than everything else? And understanding that space between as I like to say. And then coupling that back with the candidate of why? Why sales? Why you? What truly makes you took? You talk about being a 120% to quote off, why? How did you do it? Were they given a book of business? Or did they have to go out and get after it and create something from nothing? What does that really look like? How were they enabled? What does that truly mean to them? If you’re talking to a recruiter and they’re not talking to you about that and incorporating that into their process. And as they’re telling you that they’re going to get you your top performer. If they can’t quantify or qualify how they’re going to do that beyond, I’ve got a database, I’ve got a network, you really need to poke holes into that.
Ali Mirza: Got it, got it. Okay so you, you said a couple of things. I want to make sure that the audience can glaze over and I want to really unpack this. So, in terms of the hiring process from a founder’s mentality right that, and you said let me MVP this thing right? And we’re taught you know, and I agree with it but we’re taught that you know if you’re or I heard this quote would something be effect of. If you’re not embarrassed of your first launch or your first product or whatever your first adoration you launched too late, right? Not that I thought that, that was really powerful and like I think it sounds a really good message, right? And it perpetuates this MVP notion. But there are certain things that you don’t MVP, there’s certain things you do right from the beginning, right? And you don’t launch until you’re ready to launch, right? Like marriage, that’s one of those things you make sure you do it right you know, “Ah, just get married. Woooh!” So, let’s equate the sales department to a marriage, right? How, what do you need to do to prep your org that hey, we’re about to scale up our sales team? Now whether be you’ve got a no sales team, whether you’ve got a 3 to 5 salespeople and you want to go from 3 to 30 or 5 to 50 whatever the case may be, you found product market fit and now you want this thing on steroids. What, I don’t know… you tell me, what’s MVP’ing it and what… and show me how’s that bad? And then what’s not MVP’ing and doing it right? Walk me through that a little bit.
Amy Volas: I think the bad part of it is that you’re making assumptions that you haven’t spent a lot time talking to your team about what’s going on the organization. I find that where startup’s get it wrong is when there’s all of the sort of wizard behind the curtain stuff that happens. And there’s this threatening feeling of there’s change and I don’t know what these means and now we’re growing and what does this mean for my job? What does this mean for my territory if you have a sales team in place? Am I going to get replaced? When you hired me you promised me the world and now is that going to change? So, it always will go back to communication, always. And I find that there’s two paths that you can take. One, you have such an ego that you think you’re right that you don’t want to hear it from anybody else and yes maybe your technology is elegant and it’s beautiful and it does something amazing. But you don’t realize that you can’t really do anything with it unless you have some people to help you. And you’ve alienated those people because you just know all, you don’t care, you just know all. That doesn’t work so well. The second path that you can take is, your team feels like they are part of the fabric, they have a voice. You’re not just making decisions for them, you want to hear maybe you disagree and that’s okay but you can quantify or qualify why you’re disagreeing, but you enable them to have that voice. And so, if you’re going to MVP in the right way on my opinion it’s not just pay what service and do this or this is what I’m telling you, do as I say not as I do or I don’t care.
Ali Mirza: Right.
Amy Volas: If you provide them with a true voice they’re going to be so excited and feeling like they’re part of what you’re building. They’re going to be proud of that, they’re going to be loyal to that because what they believe and what you believe lock in step. Before you hire it’s about spending an additional time to say; here’s what we’re doing with our funding or, here’s why it’s time to build around you, this is going to help you, here’s why, here are the things that you might struggle with, here’s what we’re going to do to help you through that, you’re going to have a seat at the table to meet your potential new boss or colleagues or whatever it might be. But remember the golden rule around this is communication and I’m a big fan. I’m trying to get this hash tag to go by roll, what you put in is what you get out. If you put very little into your team without communication their mind is going to raise and they’re going to start building this case of what’s the matter, what’s going on, I’m scared. Change is scary, right?
Ali Mirza: Right.
Amy Volas: And you know somebody has the ability to adapt, you’ve got to provide that psychological safety of why are these changes [00:20:53.26] [Intermittent] [Unintelligible]? What it means for them? What it means for the business? And that it’s not going to be a threatening thing. And then if it is, here’s what you’re going to do to take care of that. On the other side when it goes well, same rules apply. People feel like they know may even if they disagree they still know they still understand and they still are brought in to the mission of not being threatened by this change that’s going to come because they get it. And if they are then, maybe that’s a different course of action, maybe they aren’t the right person. I’m a big believer that what gets you to a certain level may not necessarily serve you in the next level. And that doesn’t mean that they’re out, maybe it’s a different role, maybe it’s a different thing that they’re doing for you in terms of how you’re utilizing them in that role. It doesn’t have to be so black and white of you’re fired and I’m out and now I’ve got turnover. It really is about having that communication and being embedded together.
Ali Mirza: Got it! Got it! No, I love that. And walk me through… yeah I mean, you said something here and I’m a little bit of a loss of words of trying kind of caption it. But, that this whole concept of change, right? People are afraid of change just as much as your employees are afraid of change, I find it a lot of times. Leadership is also afraid of change, right? And sometimes and I’m sure you’ve been in this action, I know you’ve been in some of these situations. But, and as of eye is we go in places and like I got an itchy trigger figure, right? Like I’m quick to fire, right? I’m like, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, out! Right? Like and I have no problem firing anybody, right? So, if you need to fire somebody you call me and I actually do that with pleasure because people won’t change, people don’t change. People don’t want to change unless you really show them and they have accepted that there’s going to be changed. I mean they’re not going to change on their own so you have to facilitate that. But if, no matter how much facilitation you provide if they don’t want to, I can’t make it, do it and I’m just… that’s just not the business I want to be in is, is playing babysitter. So, I’m really quick with… you don’t want to be onboard, get out! How does that, how is that like I know it’s of the service because that’s good you got rid of the bad eggs but you probably didn’t change the core piece that created those bad eggs. So, the only time you start with a clean slate is if you’re also going to have a new slate but if you use the same slate you’re going to put the same problems again. How do you explain that to people? How do you explain that the founders that hey, you’ve got a really bad situation here? And how do you get them to understand it because remember they’re part of that problem, they’re the ones who created it? How do you facilitate that change?
Amy Volas: That starts from the dropdown which is basically what you’re saying, right? Quite frankly, if I’m dealing with a company whether I’m getting to know them or I’m engaged with them, if they’re not open to thinking about not living Einstein’s definition of insanity which we all know it’s doing the same thing over and over again it’s expecting something different. If they’re not open to that I’m not the right person for them, right? I mean and so I hate to sound hardcore because to your point when somebody shows you who they are you need to believe them.
Ali Mirza: Yes.
Amy Volas: And handling the people that are closed-minded and they don’t realize that you’ve engaged me. And, Ali you and I have had this conversation. You get engaged, you want my help but yet your actions have nothing to do with your words and I’m coming in and I’m trying to reinforce discovery what we talked about our commitment. These are these things and they’re just not open to it there’s nothing that I can do or say to change their mind. Now, somebody comes to me and they say, “I’m in a hotness, I don’t know how to fix this, this is why I need you”. Then I pay attention to the space in between of how are they engaging with me? Are they making themselves available? Change doesn’t happen overnight, it’s scary for them as well. And I think part of that to answer your question of how that looks is to have a mutually agreed upon plan of we’re going to break this off in bit sized pieces, right? It doesn’t have to be this overwhelming, everything is going to change around me in one second because you’re a founder you have a million other things going on. And to think about the totally of something big to change like your culture, like your hiring strategy, like your wholesales team, that’s a lot to break off in one big bite. So, I rather take it in pieces of, let’s prioritize what needs to happen. Out of all the things that if you could wave a magic wand, what does that look like? Let’s find out how realistic that list is and then backtrack that into a plan of here’s what we’re going to do now, here’s what this means, here’s what’s the process looks like and it almost like getting their sign off. And if I get their sign off they are mutually committed to the task at hand. If somebody says “Nope! That’s your job, I don’t care figure it out”, I’m out!
Ali Mirza: Right! Yeah! You can’t one or more than them, right?
Amy Volas: Yeah!
Ali Mirza: And I just… and I like that is that you start with the end first, right? And then you reverse engineer it into small little pieces, right? How do you eat an elephant one bite at a time. It’s easy to keep it conceptual in the area like hey, I want to a perfect sale or grade. But what was that mean? Let’s figure that out and let’s work backwards as to what are the steps to go through it. And if you actually go through the exercise and the effort of writing it down that creates that accountability, that creates a feedback, are you doing this yes or no? Because if we just have just where we want to end up and nothing written down, right? Within twenty minutes we’re going to revert back to our old habits, right?
Amy Volas: Yep!
Ali Mirza: And then we wonder 6 months later why nothing has changed, why we haven’t hit our goal and why everything still looks the same. Now, I think that that’s powerful.
Amy Volas: So, and to that point. One of the things that I do is sort of like a gut check is to along the way of having that mutually agreed upon plan or even before I get to the plan, it could be on discovery. This is recently happened with a new client, brand new client we’re helping them fill a sales leadership role. They’ve had a mishire before me, I have nothing to do with it twice inside of 3 years. That’s painful.
Ali Mirza: Right.
Amy Volas: And the CEO and their head of HR and I were sitting, I’m in their office and we’re sitting across the table from each other. And of course I have to disclaim and say “Look, this comes from a loving place. I’m going to have to ask you some tough questions and it’s really important for us to be able to dig in deep and figure this out”. Great, okay, and my first question was so, again with all due respect you’ve gotten this wrong twice inside of 3 years. That’s painful. What did you learned from it? And I just shut up and I listened. The reason why I asked that question and it’s something that all of us can do more of, what did you learned from it? Perspective is the number one thing that all of us have that helps us the most. If I can look in the rear view mirror and I can understand what was good, what was bad, when I was the happiest, when I was the most successful, when I struggled the most, what did that look like, what did I learned from that and then use that as my fuel going forward. If somebody isn’t learning anything or if we’ve gone through this first step or building up the planning. Like, okay so, before we build up a plan these are the things that you struggled with. What did you learned from it? What are we going to do now that’s going to be different? If they don’t know that or they’re like, or they think it’s stupid and fluffy or whatever the case may be. Again, I look for the tells, right? Like, I think about it as poker. I want to see your tell.
Ali Mirza: Right.
Amy Volas: And I want to know, are you really committed to this or you just grinning at me and telling me what I want to hear? I’m surprised and amazed by how much wasted money there isn’t. Ali you and I have talked about this on spending time and energy and money and resources like you and myself when there’s zero intention deep down inside of ever really utilizing us in a way that we should be utilized.
Ali Mirza: Right.
Amy Volas: And so, that’s why I was always look for those signs of… we may not have all the answers, that’s okay. We might be learning this together, that’s okay. But what are we doing is that it continues improving mindset.
Ali Mirza: And it’s funny you mentioned that. I mean, and here’s the thing that people don’t understand when bringing us in is we’re… I mean of course we’re committed to your success, right? But we’re not there unless you don’t pay us. But at the same time in today’s economy, right? You and I are… we’re bandwidth, right? So, it doesn’t help us to take deals that the client’s not going listen because we don’t get a case study out of it, we can’t jack up our rates and I’m just being fully transparent here, right? The better my clients do the more expensive I’d become the more money I make. So, for me I want people that are going to listen that it’s not that they have to listen to me, we have to arrive at the correct conclusion together. So, that this notion that well, because everyone says I want my clients to be successful and of course everyone means it but do they really mean it and they get paid either way so they really care. And my answer to that is in this economy absolutely, it matters, it matters big and I think that this is always is mistrust, right? And I would say half of my clients get it, the other half that don’t, right? We don’t get very far, right? We’ve had at least it was with me. I don’t know, I mean… alright. Let’s change some gears here. Talk to me a little bit of ok, we’ve hired someone now. And this is something that you helped me out with a lot. So, I appreciate this and that’s why I really want to give you this platform here right now is… Okay, we hired somebody, right? That’s only half the battle, right? Now, it’s about onboarding, keeping them, getting them successful. Talk to me about the difference between orientation, training and onboarding. I mean, I think that this is something that doesn’t get a lot of attention. I think there’s a lot of confusion about this. Walk us through that and explain how founders, how people, how whether be HR, whether be sales leaders, whoever needs to start looking at this properly?
Amy Volas: So, it goes back into that concept of… and by the way before I start this. I think it should be known and I have written about this and you just talked about this. Saying no is just as powerful as saying yes. And the longer I stay in this business I know exactly who my customer is, I know exactly what they look like, what they care about, how they engage with me. And if we’re not “Sympatico” as they’ve say I am completely comfortable and confident of saying thank you but I’m not your person. And let’s be real, there’ll be an army of other recruiters waiting for you.
Ali Mirza: Right.
Amy Volas: And the same thing in the world. So, I think you have to have that North star of what does, it’s like what we talked about with our customers, what does your buyer look like, right? So, sidebar, going back to your question. So, it’s sort of like what you put in is what you get out. And again, trying to make that thing go, go viral with that hashtag. Getting somebody onboard, orienting them, training them, those are all very different things but they’re all part of the ecosystem, right? So, it’s not an off on switch. And the reason why I’m saying it’s what you put in is what you get out is because of the fact that I’ve seen so many people, they have them with an HR person or they have them read some things before they start. They get them set up with their computer and they’re like okay, shadow somebody and then okay you’re good, right?
Ali Mirza: Right!
Amy Volas: And it is under a month later why this person’s really struggling? So…
Ali Mirza: Because they’re lazy.
Amy Volas: Yes! Yes!
Ali Mirza: Yes.
Amy Volas: Or, you have to understand. And I used to say this when people were hiring me in my enterprise sales career. Even though I’m still staying in the HR tech community, even though I have a book of business of people that I’ve gotten to know over all these years that trust me. I’m new to you and you’re new to me. And the more I’m like a software program the more you program me the better the outcome will be faster.
Ali Mirza: Yep.
Amy Volas: The more you make me figure it out on my own and stumble and fall the more that’s going to be painful for both of us, right? And so, I think the difference is of orientation. I feel like that’s a class of people that could be from different departments and you’re learning company 101, right? So, here are our best practices, here’s our HR’s handbook, here’s how you get paid, here’s compliance stuff, here’s your security badge, here’s who you go to for this department and that department. That’s orientation.
Ali Mirza: Right. This is sexual harassment, this is not. Yeah, I mean you lined me up, I have to get that in there.
Amy Volas: Yes. One of the many things, right? Yeah.
Ali Mirza: Right!
Amy Volas: This is where you go to the bathroom, like all of those things.
Ali Mirza: Right. Yep!
Amy Volas: Then you’ve got training, right? And training is not the same thing as onboarding people. Training is I need to give you information to either help you do what you already do better or train you on our way of doing things or train you on something you didn’t know before. That’s training. And by the way, training doesn’t stop. In my opinion it shouldn’t stop.
Ali Mirza: Yep.
Amy Volas: The number thing I get asked for from my clients that get it is I want somebody that’s naturally curious because that will translate to the conversation with the buyer. If they’re curious about what’s happening in the marketplace and their business that just equals so much loveliness. Same thing should be for your own company, right? So, training isn’t something that you just flip on or flip off and all of my sales enablement brands they speak to this really well, that’s an ecosystem, right? It’s part of the puzzle of success for your whole entire organization. Again, it’s not just a manual, it’s not just a module, it’s not just a piece of software and you go and you do that. It should be a well thought out plan of mutual agreement of. Here’s what it looks like when you first start to make sure you’ve got what you need for how we do things and how our products works and these kinds of things. But then it’s also, what do you need as an individual? Where are you struggling? Where would you like to finesse what you’d like to do better? What are the things that are important to you? Let’s map that out, right? Are there certain books that you want to read? Let’s create a book club! That’s different stuff when it comes to training. And again, it’s not just because you just got hired, it’s a continuous thing when it comes to onboarding, right? So, I’m picking each one of these things apart. Onboarding starts the second that the person accepts the hire. I can’t tell you and there is someone that I have mad love and respect for. He engaged me; he’s on the West coast and said “You know? I didn’t want to make this call but I need to. We recruited this person, we all loved this person. They had accepted in a week before they were supposed to start. They got a counter offer from inside the company and they took it. And we didn’t stay in touch with them. We’re going to take accountability. I didn’t stay in touch with them, I was too busy. I didn’t know that these were the things that he was starting to think about. I didn’t keep him excited about what he was going to walk in to. I didn’t give him things about what to think about, what to work on, what to start. Really wrapping your mind around when it comes to the new role. I didn’t fly out there to see him. I didn’t offer a birchfall coffee, whatever it might be”. Onboarding starts the second that the person accepts the job especially when the table stakes are so high where in an unemployment world of 3.7%, the lowest it’s been since 1969, in my lifetime and your lifetime and it’s a buyer’s market. So, when you have people that maybe they’ve accepted your role and they’ve said that they’re excited, if there’s a 2 or 3 week time between when they start and when they’ve accepted you have an incredible opportunity you loss them. You’ve got to keep them firmly cemented into your program what you’re doing, why they’re there, why they matter, how you’re going to enable them, all of those things. So, onboarding really starts then.
Ali Mirza: Okay. How do I do that? I mean, because I’m right there with that phone, I’m busy, I don’t have… I’d like to believe and I know this is naive but I’d like to believe if there’s someone gives me the word that hey, I’m in, they’re in. But we don’t live in that world no more, right? We don’t work somewhere for 40 years and get a gold watch, right? And so, I mean it’s as much as 2 weeks you’re right. Someone will, how do I do that given my busy schedule?
Amy Volas: You schedule it in. Right? So…
Ali Mirza: How concise! The simplest answer is typically the… yeah no, okay. Hit me.
Amy Volas: [00:37:55.25] [Our asset]. And Ali, you know I busted your run for this. I was like stop being lazy, don’t do this. You’re like, what do you mean? You gave me a document that have like three points on it and it was like I’ll say “Hi! I’ll be there on the first day to show up to be like what’s up?”
Ali Mirza: Yeah.
Amy Volas: Okay, if you do that and I was like you connect to that.
Ali Mirza: I’m a delicate genius Amy, don’t bother me, I’m too busy.
Amy Volas: And I’m like, get over yourself. So, I think part of that is get out your calendar and have some milestones. So, maybe when they start you send them your favorite book that helped you get up to speed. How personalized is that? Then maybe you say hey look, let’s talk in a few days this is a lot to digest. You might have questions even after the hire, let’s talk about that. When are you planning on resigning? By the way, I do this for all of my clients as well. This is part of what we do to take it off of their plates. But if they’re managing this on their own. And even in my best of partnerships we both do it together in different ways we plot it out together. But, for the sake of giving somebody something of what do they do from the second that they accept understand when they’re planning to resign, understand how they feel about that, how does their spouse or partner or friend or parent or board of advisers feel about this? Talk to them before and after that, isn’t it highly emotional decision, right? There’s a lot of emotion even with the most seasoned of resigners you still get amped up, right? You still were like, “huh?” And if you’re really proud of the work that you’ve done and somebody says “Hey! We’ll throw a bunch of cash your way and give you a bigger title and solve for all the things. By the way the study shows that you’ll be out anyway inside of 9 months”. But, mind you people don’t know that or they don’t realize that. We need to be there with them to take them through that journey all the way through different touch point that mean different things through the time that they start. And then the time that they start you roll up that red carpet. You’re not… you shouldn’t be running around the office looking for their laptop and it was somebody’s laptop that got fired three days ago and all their stuff is still on it. You want to make sure that…
Ali Mirza: It’s sticky, there’s juice spilt on it and every… yeah, yeah, yeah.
Amy Volas: Fingerprints all over. You want to make sure that you show them, you’re taking it seriously, you’re invested in their time with you as an organization.
Ali Mirza: That there’s something about preparation that equates to professionalism that just cannot be… no matter how much money you throw at something with regards of how fancy your office is, regardless of how well you’re dressed, regardless of what degrees or whatnot. If there’s a slight hint of unpreparedness at any point it just sours everything. So, now I think you hit on a really good point is. And so, what can a founder do to that first state? What can they do to prep that? What can they… just some quick things that are just like a make to you but to people like us simple tense, what can we just like maybe three, four, five things just quick hits that are going to make us look levelled up and look that much nicer and better, professional?
Amy Volas: Same agenda of what to expect the first day, the first week.
Ali Mirza: Written and printed I’m assuming?
Amy Volas: Written, printed, email to them ahead of time so that they know what to prepare and expect. The folks that they’re going to be dealing with inside of that first week make introductions, get them talking so it’s not as awkward first day, right? They probably already meet through the interview process but really get them intertwined with each other. Is there a mentor that can really help guide them? Because as a founder, as a leader you’re busy. Is there anybody else that can help take some of that off of your plate to have them have a really great experience? So, that first day what does that really look like? Again, make sure that the machines are set up, the phones are set, all the stuff is set up so that they don’t have to worry about that. Have somebody your swag waiting for them at their desk. That day that they start communicate what time to be there, meet them in the lobby, grab a Starbucks before you get in and make sure that they’re good and escort them up and present them to the company. That goes so far, somebody feel special like wow! You took time out to meet me here? I didn’t have to wait in security, get rejected in security because I don’t work here yet. Get held back and then I’m in the lobby and nobody’s there and I’m just sitting there for twenty minutes and you’re not answering your cellphone. Make it easy for them.
Ali Mirza: Right. Right. No, and on that notes maybe, I think the one thing that people tend to overlook is the whole parking situation, right?
Amy Volas: Yeah.
Ali Mirza: How often do you have to pay for your own parking, I mean over here? I just found, I just found out we’ve always had a parking pass but I just found out at my building the parking is like $35 a day, right? And this is in New York, right? Like, some and this is Atlanta, right? So, $35 a day for somebody that is transitioning into a new job may not be as flushed with cash and you would want them to be. Little things like that I think you hit on a really good point because you got a parking pass, these are things that are just not in your mind. So, I think documenting them is really good. I have a tendency to call everyone brother and I think I called you brother one time and you did not… you let me have it, didn’t you? But…
Amy Volas: I signed to break the norms of the bro culture Ali.
Ali Mirza: Yeah, whatever. Yeah, don’t get me starting out that. I’m so liberal that I see nothing, right? That’s how liberal I am, but…
Amy Volas: You can call me whatever you want. You’ve earned the right.
Ali Mirza: You bet. Amy, thank you so much. I really, really appreciate your time here. You’ve just dropped so much information on us. And I know I’ve got a bunch of more questions but I’ve got a direct line to you. How can people reach out to you? How can people ask you questions? How can people get the help that you provide in this horrific economy trying to find somebody? Somebody that I would never hire to clean my toilet is getting 70K, 80K a year to sell something.
Amy Volas: Yeah.
Ali Mirza: How can people get in touch with you and pick your brain and get help from you? Where can they reach out?
Amy Volas: Yes, well first and foremost, thank you. I always love our conversation. The best way to get me so, I’m on LinkedIn all over the place all the time and all of my contact information is there so, Amy Volas. In addition to that, email, my website AvenueTalentPartners.com. I’m on Twitter, I’m on Facebook. There really isn’t a place that you can’t find me. So, I’m excited to have conversations, my hotline is on.
Ali Mirza: There we go. Alright, well excellent! Thank you so much for everyone that tuned in. Make sure you listen, like, subscribe, share, pass it to your friends, pass it to people you don’t like, pass it to people you like whatever the case may be. And again, if you’re having any challenges with hiring in this economy, comment below; let us know how we can help you out cause that do mean sales is our gem. Me and Amy, we just love talking so let us know we’re always there to help. Thank you so much and we’ll see you next time.