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How to know if you’re the right fit for a fast growth company.

There’s a lot of buzz, myth and speculation around what it’s like to work in a fast growth or start-up company.

I came across a lot of material around culture, but not so much about career experience. So I had a dig around to get some real insight on working for a company that’s growing pretty fast.

The experience.

Without a doubt you’ll learn heaps – A common theme from everyone that’s worked in a start-up, whether they’ve enjoyed it or not, they’ve learnt loads. By loads I’m talking more in two months than the previous five years.

A start-up forces you to adopt new skills and responsibilities to make up for the big challenges that come with building a really successful business.

The pay-off – experience in all areas of the business and much more responsibility – you can find yourself in a powerful position when it comes time to move on.

No longer a small cog in a large machine – everything you do has impact, but this means it’s time to say goodbye to having a safety blanket. Want to contribute to success or even failure? Small companies will help you focus and push yourself – helping you to become a real problem solver and thinking of creative ways to get there.

The pay-off: you’ll often get to see results first-hand and share in the rewards and glory.

Surrounded by bright sparks – Perhaps one of the most often overlooked rewards is the team that you’ve joined. How many people work with passionate and enthusiastic team players every single day? This can spark inspiration on every level, leading to truly innovative ideas that helps the business stand out against competitors in the greater industry.

The pay-off: The opportunity to work alongside an entrepreneur is a big one — they identify a problem and find a new efficient way to solve it – you’d be part of that.

It’s not forever – If you’re looking for a comfy job with routine and regularity then you’re looking in the wrong place. It’s important to think about the day to day nature of the above and think about whether it’s for you. Joining a company that’s growing quickly gives you the opportunity to start learning what it takes to be your own boss.

Joining a start-up gives you the opportunity to start learning what it takes to be your own boss.

The pay-off: Working in a start-up is the ideal place to educate yourself on how to set goals, execute strategies, take your product to market and implement strong business operations.

Knowing if you have the right skills.

So you’re still weighing up if these organisations are right for you? I spoke to some of our top talent in Australia and they shared these traits needed to thrive:

Inquisition – Explore your options to find the exact best match for you. Fast growth organisations are not all the same and often have different models and very different products – take your time to find the perfect match as you’ll need to be passionate about the job you’re about to take on.

Judgment: Chances are you’re going to be figuring out a lot for yourself so you need to like making decisions that sometimes shooting in the dark. You show up for work and can sense what needs to be done without being told, and you do it.

Communication: Email, phone, face to face, pressure, sometimes chaos – You maintain calm poise and find a way forward. You aren’t alarmed by people throwing things in your direction – you can motivate yourself and teach others to join you.

Curiosity: You like to give things a go and test outcomes outside of your (and often your teams) comfort zone. You seek out the opportunity to learn. You avoid boredom and routine. You’re willing to keep trying and failing.

Courage: You’re going to stand up for what you believe is right – if you think the company is going in a direction that conflicts with it’s shared values, you’re going to voice your concerns and communicate your argument. On the other side of the coin – you’ll also be able to push forward when you don’t always agree with a day-to- day decision.

Passion: You’ll be signed up to publications and build networks of the industry you’re working in. You’ll be out and about at events when you can and reading the latest trends reports because you want to – not because you need to. It’s this passion that will help you identify problems in your own day to day operations and inspire to create industry leading solutions.

Do you work in a fast growth or start up company? I’d be keen to hear your experiences in the comments below.

Keep yourself in the know over the coming month as we’ll be following the hottest brands launching in Australia and sharing exclusive career insights with you. Sound like your cup of tea?

Yes please. 

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We’re in the middle of a big sales shake up

There’s been a bit of buzz around ‘Inside Sales’. It’s a role that’s potentially supersized the growth of many a SaaS organisation over recent years.

It’s also been a bit of a game changer for careers. The notion is a fairly simple one.

Sales—especially B2B sales—is currently undergoing a transformation. As customers become more spread out and remote, sales models are having to act. We’re seeing a big increase in companies invest in a new sales models that involves high touch transactions. It’s been defined as ‘Inside Sales’ and it’s pretty popular with B2C and B2C companies selling high ticket services.

The nature of services offered by SaaS companies is often a fairly complex sell – it requires a relationship beyond traditional transaction.

Engagement, trust, genuine interest in what a company is trying to achieve is the new norm when making a sale.

Customers now have a cycle, and it’s not just a linear path – multiple touch points at multiple stages has put a strong emphases on Sales and Marketing working as one smooth transaction.

The inside sales model is often more cost-effective as a result of advances in sales technology as there’s capability to interact with a higher volume of leads.

Ryan Smith, CEO of Qualtrics recently explained: “Enterprise sales are changing. People are busier than ever: they don’t want to take time out of their day to meet with a sales rep in their office. Fact is, they’d rather be at home with their family than getting wined and dined by someone they don’t know.

The upshot is that they’re willing to cut large checks without ever having a face-to-face meeting with anyone from your company. I’m paying hundreds of thousands of dollars on Salesforce.com and I’ve never met a sales rep in person.

Let’s face it, the CIO is no longer the only person who matters when making technology buy decisions. Demand tends to be driven from the bottom up by people who need, or already use, your product.

So focus on inside sales. We use a hybrid model that’s 90/10 inside/direct. We do million-dollar deals over the phone and use an in-person meeting to close. It cuts costs and our sales reps are twice as productive when they’re in the office.

We hire people who can have high-level conversations with executives and not embarrass us, but who are hungry and scrappy enough to get on the phone and figure out how to navigate the customer’s organization.”

It’s a big shift for sales teams, practically eliminating the need for a cold call. The conversations themselves are also well informed thanks to smart CRM and marketing automation tools. Hard, cold calling is being replaced with engaging, valuable conversation.

A few things you should know about inside sales:

How it took off – Helming a cash-strapped startup, CEO Marc Benioff pioneered several inside sales techniques out of necessity. Perhaps the most prominent example was the company’s offer of free online trials that required no prior contact with a sales rep.

Common job functions:
Sales prospecting
Inbound Sales
Lead Qualification
CRM data logging.

The bigger picture -The alignment between sales and marketing ensures that marketing focuses on the best performing leads in the funnel. Sales reps can interject with a call and close a deal without even leaving the office.

The key to success: Trust. There’s no use in having a world of information if it’s not used in communication. It’s down to the sales team to earn the trust of a prospect and gain an in-depth understanding of their overall business goals.

The right fit: It’s a pretty unique balance of skills for the role covering a large set. Reps combine phone, email and digital or social skills with the more persuasive and target driven skills of a sales rep. It’s a great opportunity to craft skills along the entire sales process from prospecting to researching to presenting to negotiating.

Future leaders: Inside sales leaders of the future need to be people-focused. They need to understand the required skills and competencies. Common paths from inside sales lead to senior inside sales role dealing with larger value deals or field sales BDM.

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Content marketing and recruitment – The recipe to success?

It’s been an interesting few months.

Five months ago I made a total industry shift. It’s been one I’ve been pretty keen to get stuck into – recruitment.

With no current marketing team, it was time to come up with a plan of action.

If I’m honest, when I set out I wasn’t sure where the industry was at when it came to content marketing in the recruitment sector. A few things became clear from the get-go.

A couple of guiding principles have been front of mind whilst considering how we should be using content:

  • The power has shifted.Gone are the days of top talent trying to get a recruiters’ attention. According to Ere.net, 83% of recruiters report that the power has shifted away from where it has been for years: the employer. In a candidate-driven marketplace, traditional recruiting approaches simply stop working.
  • Employer branding can help with recruiting efforts.56% of 4,125 global talent leaders in 31 countries surveyed for LinkedIn’s 2015 Global Recruiting Trends said they believe cultivating their employer brand is a top priority.
  • Content has a huge role to play.In order to stand out as an employer, companies will need to start posting more work culture related posts and leveraging their employees to share them. 58% of people are more likely to want to work at a company if they are using social media and over 20% are more likely to stay at their companies if they are using social media. People want to work for interesting companies and when they see interesting posts that gives them a better sense of what the company is about. The recruitment industry has a huge opportunity to take advantage, tell a story and get involved.
  • It never stops. Forbes recently reported that 86% of employees are already looking for work outside their current occupations and nearly one third of employers expert workers to job hop – there’s a continuous job search and content marketing needs to take a similar tack.

We’re quite lucky here at Salient in the profile of clients we get to work for – they’re pretty hot and they grow really fast. Naturally, they have awesome stories – but every brand does – you just have to know where to look for them.

Traditional recruitment marketing is still very short sighted – filling roles for now, which just doesn’t cut it for these guys who need to plan ahead and build pipelines of talent for next week, next month, next quarter. No more riff-raffing around scrambling to fill an ad.

These are the core areas I’m going to be focusing on over the coming months because I reckon they may just make or break content marketing in recruitment.

1. Know your pipelines

I wish I had time to write stories about all the brands we work with, touching on all the areas of the business –but I don’t.

Be focused with content efforts. Pick a couple of your key industries – in our case that’s SaaS and Digital. From there look at the job roles that are in high demand and short supply and tailor your campaigns by segmenting them in a similar way. It makes it one thousand times easier to work with Sales if you’re both working on the same funnels. It also gives you a better chance of conversion.

2. Find the right stories

Recruitment content doesn’t have to be around ‘how to build your career’. There’s a huge amount of content topics to be covered. Personally I’m really interested in telling and hearing the stories of the people that work inside a company. What were the expectations when you started? How do you feel about it 6 months on? What opportunities have you been given? What’s the stationery like!? (Ok maybe I’ll save the latter for my friends).

3. Give talent some breathing space

Top talent get calls and messages from recruiters on a daily basis. Many have become cynical about recruiters as a result. Be smart with your marketing, instead of asking if you can call back in 6 months to check in, why not ask them if they’re interested in signing up to your content and keeping up to date with the movers and shakers in their industry through some weekly stories from inside those brands? Use your smarts to pick up on any changes in behaviour, then sure it’s pretty reasonable to give have a recruiter call. They’ll be much more likely to communicate with you if you can be bang on point with the time you call. Make a guided decision.

4. Use the technology and make the experience easy

Whether you use a technology product or you have a savvy product use your technology then show it back to clients. Track all your analytics then feed them back to clients – they’ll be much more keen to do more content with you when they see it’s working.

Curated content would also fit in here. There are some pretty awesome products around, from Feedly to NewsCred (free to $3000+) – you can easily keep an eye on the content your clients are publishing themselves and re-purpose them with your own brand content to provide a nice balance of stories.

5. Play the long game

Starting a new career path is not the same as buying a television – there’s often anything from 1 month to 3 years between thinking about another job and actually leaving for one. But if you’ve been nurtured for months, reading stories and really buying into the values of a brand – chances are you’re more likely to go there.

I’m looking forward to checking back in a few months to see how the results are working in practice. If you’re working in recruitment, I’d love to hear about your plans..

Is this the hottest brand hitting Australia right now?

There aren’t many growth stories quite like Qualtrics.

In January 2010 they had 37 employees, by December 2013 there were 260 employees and now (Oct 2014) there are over 550 employees. They’re going through hyper-growth and there are no plans to slow down.

The Utah-based start-up, which produces cloud-based survey software, recently secured $150 million in venture capital. The new stream of funding has been allocated to product development and overseas expansion.

In addition to the HQ in Utah, last year saw expansion to Dublin; the office grew from 3 to 50 employees in a year – next year the aim is to be around the 100 mark.

They’re now about to take on the same mission is Sydney.

Bill McMurray is the man tasked with the job.

Starting out as just a team of just three renting out office space in the Sydney CBD.

However, that’s all going to change pretty quickly.

“I’m currently in the process of securing 8,000 sq ft of office space in Sydney. We’re unlike most organisations that taper at around the $100 million mark – Qualtrics is still going through rapid growth.

“We’re aiming to be over 50 employees in Australia within 12 months and then we’ll start building out local operations in key APJ countries.” Explained Bill.

But the team aren’t starting from scratch, deployment has been years in the making and they already have an impressive 250 active customers here in the region.

Bill explained how people have been at the core of the organisation’s success and are consistently provided opportunity at the same rate as business growth:

“It’s the people that have really driven this business. They’ve been tapping away and built up a great base before we even arrived. Opportunities are passed down to the people in the organisation, I’m a firm believer in promotion from within.”

Tim’s story

The man behind the mission…. And it’s not who you’d expect.

Tim Pales was a man with a plan. It started back when he had one year left of his course studying Chinese and Business at BYU. Like most students Tim took a part time job.

It was 2008 when Tim joined Qualtrics – as employee number 29. He’d be at school all day and on the phones all night. The night calling was a very deliberate decision for Tim “My interest was always APAC. I had lived and studied in Asia and coupling that experience with my focus on business in school it seemed like a good fit. Seeing how rapidly the economies in Asia were growing, I knew there would be good opportunities there.”

“We first focused on academics and we successfully managed to land pretty much all of the major universities in Australia and New Zealand.”

The last three years have been spent managing his own sales team whilst building business in Australia, without so much as an office space here.

With continued success year on year, it wasn’t long till Tim became a senior manager. The mission never faltered “The goal has always been to create a problem so we had to come here. It got to a point where (after pushing it for three years) there was enough of a customer base in APAC. The appetite was there, the time was now – it was time to go.”

Whilst excelling quota for both him and his team members, Tim and John developed a full business plan for launch here in Australia. Part of that plan – hire an exec: “Qualtrics needed executive leadership on the ground in Australia. I have been fortunate to manage teams but I wasn’t the guy to strategically launch Qualtrics here. I found myself in the unique position of helping our executive team hire my new boss.”

Sitting with the team of three in their temporary rented office in Sydney, you wouldn’t be mistaken for thinking you were chatting to a group of guys about to start their own business. Bill McMurray jokes “We see this as we’ve just started private school and have our parents financing – we’re all so interested in this region, it’s exciting to lead the launch here.”

Coming soon…. John’s story

This was John’s first role out of university. Like most he started in entry level sales 3 and a half years ago.

Over the course of the last 21 months he’s had 4 promotions.

How? The company has a really clear development path, it’s not based on politics or people leaving – it’s based purely on performance.

Every quarter you’re given a quota. Hit the quota of the level above you for 2 quarters, you get promoted. It’s that simple.

John played a big role in developing the business plan and now as part of the landing team, is a big part of leading the roll out in the region.

Article published on behalf of Salient Group, we connect great talent to fast growth brands. If you’re interesting in hearing more about brands like Qualtrics sign up here.

The 5 lessons I learnt interviewing 239 people.

Interviewing was a task that completely daunted me.

I still remember my first one, it was speaking to a guy called Fred who was set to present at a Retrofitting conference. When I heard that Fred was well known for a particular area of façade design and that it was my job to get some content from him.. I Panicked. I went out and bought a pack of highlighters and decided that this was it, make or break time for if this was something I could do.

3 years and 240 interviews down the line it’s become a passion, I’ve been pretty lucky getting to fire questions at Hospital Chiefs, University VCs, Finance CEOs, CMO’s, Government Leaders, EAs and a whole host of techy people.

A few tips matter, no matter who you’re interviewing.

Do your research
Why highlighters? It was apparent from the off that research was going to be key. We’re very lucky to have a host of background research available. Start with the company website, narrow in to the name of the person you’re interviewing – check if they’ve been in the press recently, if they have a blog, an active LinkedIn, a mention on their company newsletter. Prepare.

You don’t need to become a subject matter expert, you just need to know what makes this person unique – What makes them special? Why are you interviewing them In the first place? Use this to prepare your questions.

Why? Quite frankly you don’t want to look like a fool. Also, the key part of any interview is finding the ‘sexy’ angle. You won’t find it if you haven’t researched what’s already out there…

Be nice
Be friendly and approachable. I approach every single interview wanting it to be a pleasant experience for everyone involved.

Over the years I’ve been amazed by the amount of CEO’s and pretty influential leaders that still feel nervous in front of the camera. It’s not just you that feels nervous, and it’s important to put people at ease.

See the interview as ‘a chat’ and communicate that to the person you’re asking the questions to, right from the off.

Why? In addition to it being a much nicer experience for everyone involved, you’ll find people will relax and open up more – telling you the real stories, not the brand approved ones. They will also be more likely to work with you in the future.

Listen
The difference between a Q&A and an interview is huge.

I’ve always sent questions in advance, allowing time for preparation and to instil some ease. However, I understand that by doing this, it means I may end up with responses prepared by the Communications team. That’s why you have to listen rather than just move through the questions and take the answers, listen and ask follow up questions – drill into each answer.

Information you find out during an interview can also benefit wider departments.

Why: Again, it helps you find the angle and ask follow up questions. It also helps to generate future content ideas. Once someone has given you their time to be interviewed – pick their brains, make the most of being with them.

Use a formula
Each interview should be personal, no doubt about it. But there’s nothing wrong with having a bit of a raw framework to your question development – it helps you develop the content following the interview. Mine goes a little something like this:

Overview of Journey

Macro impact

Challenges

Above and beyond

Lesson Learnt

For example, the challenges question may end up being something like:

Change Management was clearly one of the biggest challenges of the project – could you tell me a little about the strategy you had in place and what hurdles you were faced with along the way..

Go the extra mile
It’s the simple things that count here, share a copy of the video – edited and raw footage, add some value to the experience.

Communicate where it’s been used and what the feedback is.

Being interviewed can be a real personal development tool. It will also increase your chances of getting the video shared with new networks. People are generally more than happy to self-promote, exponentially increasing your coverage.

I’ve changed my mind on content.

I didn’t start out in content. I didn’t even know I liked it till a few years ago, but always enjoyed the basic principle of telling stories.

It started at the age of 13, although granted that was mostly my brother and I telling porkies – the most elaborate stories to see what we could get away with. Completely fabricated but entirely fun. (Sorry mum)

In my first content role, I soon learned a side of storytelling previously undervalued – honesty. I was pretty lucky in the role, with access to some of Australia’s most interesting professionals. It opened my mind to the story in somebody’s day to day. What’s nothing to them, is something to someone else.

Writing came second. I actually used to hate writing. But then I realised it was just because I didn’t like the theory style writing your conditioned to use during university. I soon discovered the joys of writing a sentence based on opinion, rather than the pages of what someone said in a book.

The most enjoyable part has been meeting people, getting to know their journey then sharing their story.

The aim – get insight from one experience that will add value to someone else on a similar journey. Essentially, offer solutions where no one else can.

Year on year a new wave of tips and best practices have emerged as more and more content has emerged, and whilst I agree with it tactically. Recently I found myself changing my opinion on the underlying principle of producing content

It all started when the LinkedIn publishing platform extended. I found myself not getting ‘value’ from 90 per cent of the articles, yet kept coming back and soon found that I was visiting for a different reason, I was drawn to the stories

I used to think good content was a piece of content that solved a particular challenge, something that offered value for a particular circumstance. A how to, top tips, whitepapers etc.

The simple truth is everybody likes a story.

At every stage of life, you just never grow old of them. And rightly so.

It’s a huge opportunity that excited me as a content marketer.

As an example, my personal standout is GoPro. I remember seeing the video of thekitten being resuscitated. I immediately liked the brand.

Over time I’ve always watched their videos, never once giving me a ‘value takeaway’ on how to take better photos or edit great films. They never gave me a CTA, they never ensured there were banners across all my touch points. I didn’t get a sponsored Facebook post, or a timely email with a discount code. If there is a funnel, they’ve sure disguised it well.

But I want one, granted maybe i’m being greedy. But I want to make videos that capture a moment the way they do. I’m completely sold. All because they told me a few well told stories.

Don’t get me wrong, couldn’t agree more that strategy, analytics and all those things have a huge role to play in helping us get the right content to the right people. But it served me with a reminder of exactly why I’m in this profession…. To share great stories from one person to the next.

What do you think, value takeaway or story? What makes great content for you?

Share your thought on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20141010034408-107004231-i-ve-changed-my-mind-on-content