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Today's Technology Sales recruitment market in Australia.

An interview with Sid Bapodra, Technology Sales & Leadership 

 

In our in-depth interview below, Sid BapodraEthos BeathChapman's executive recruiter for technology sales and leadership positions, shares his personal observations on Australia's technology sales job market, the biggest challenge for technology sales professionals in 2020 and what software companies should know about hiring in the current market. Here, Sid also offers actionable advice to sales professionals and business leaders, as well as companies hiring remote teams as a permanent norm.

 

What is the biggest challenge for technology sales people this year?

For sales people, sales pipeline is a key performance indicator and while current pipeline may be healthy, there is a question mark around the ability of people to bring in new business. As far as sales process is concerned, I’m hearing some have slowed down, some have stopped, some are continuing as usual and new process are being introduced. This depends in large part on the nature of the technology in the current climate. I think as well with the uncertainty, there is always a thought at the back of people’s mind, “Will this deal get sign-off? Will this process continue and close?” 

Uncertainty is probably the key word here. People don’t know what’s happening. That’s probably the main challenge - how long this is going to last and what the outcome will be, because there’s obviously Covid and then there’s the economic ramifications which would be felt for a longer time. It’s not easy for a lot of businesses to make any strategic plans other than those that will mitigate their risk and losses.

On the whole, I’m not seeing sweeping personnel changes in technology businesses in Australia from the impact of Covid. Certain businesses have cut staff but I’m not seeing mass redundancies as a trend across enterprise technology. As for job opportunities in the current market, I’m guessing major growth plans are largely on hold, but critical hires are still being made. 

What advice would you give to sales professionals in the current market? 

The metrics you may have set for yourself in the past to track your progress may have to change. You may not be having the same number of conversations, qualified leads, or deals in the pipeline as you’re used to. So you may need to change your perspective.

Instead, try looking at how much value you’re adding to your clients and find new ways to measure your progress. Stay on top of market insights, have visibility on the wider picture, understand what clients are doing, understand their new challenges and use this to modify your offering and your approach.

Your advice to business leaders?

The new market conditions are very much a fact-finding exercise for a lot of businesses. They should be aware of changes they may need to make to continue serving their customers. Try to harness all available data and technology to understand productivity and outcomes and adapt your management style and business practices accordingly. 

For your teams, how you maintain engagement with them, how you measure their well-being, how you stay in touch with people and the extent of support you offer to people who may have different ways of being productive – all these matter more than ever to them right now. It’s important to be making sure everyone is mentally healthy, productive and receiving the support they need.

What is the most pertinent thing software companies hiring in the current market should know right now?

Companies in the market who are hiring, especially those with talent acquisitions teams, would feel it’s an employer’s market as there are an abundance of candidates that they can cherry pick from. They feel they are in the position to go the market directly. 

However, we haven’t seen large scale job losses in the technology sector and the challenges of recruitment still remain. Nonetheless, in the future, we may see redundancies and good candidates who just unfortunately found themselves on the wrong side of the economic situation. But those people who are still employed are very reluctant to entertain conversations with new employers based on the uncertainty in the market and the situation at large. 

The last thing sales candidates want to do is join a new firm with new sales targets and have obstacles to initiating and closing deals with prospective clients. Until they know that the economic situation or the environment is conducive to them being successful from a sales perspective, it will remain difficult to engage candidates. The last thing passive candidates are going do is respond to a job ad and are unlikely to respond to an approach by someone they don’t know. 

Employers may find that there are increasing numbers of candidates responding to job ads and InMails, but will also find that they likely don’t meet the specifications of the role. Sales candidates, as always, are going to need to be told a story, and there needs to be established trust between them and the person telling that story. And that’s where the recruiter comes in, to be able to convey that message and bring candidates to the table.

What is the most important thing technology sales professionals need to know in the current job market? 

Any candidate looking at new opportunities now will be obliged to engage in a more thorough due-diligence process. A lot of interviews that are taking place are remote, especially in countries outside Australia where you can’t have face to face meetings. You can now in Australia, but a lot of recruitment is still being done remotely. It’s very difficult to gauge both for the employer and the candidate, whether it’s the right fit. However, people will figure out a way to make it work. 

There will be candidates being hired purely on the back of Zoom meetings. Those recruitment processes are going to be a bit lengthier and involve more people to make up for lack of face to face contact. Candidates really need to just be conscious and mindful of the decisions they are making taking into consideration the changing landscape. 

In your perspective, what are the workplace positives that have come up this year as a result of Covid-19?  

While businesses may have initially struggled in their rush to adopt a successful remote work environment for their staff, my clients being technology companies, should subsequently have been technologically mature and agile enough to service their clients remotely and perform their duties equally well. Also, the pandemic has allowed many companies to see the possibility of telecommuting being a permanent norm and giving employees complete flexibility to work from home for as long as they want to.

Given that telecommuting could well be the permanent norm, what advice would you give to companies hiring remote teams?

The candidate’s experience and ‘fitness’ for the role will be more important in a remote work environment. Consider that it will be difficult for candidates who need an extensive amount of upskilling and training to start to be productive.
As an employer, you’ll likely be looking for that candidate who fits the role a little more than they would have done previously and reducing the risk of employing from left field because you haven’t got the ability or capacity to upskill and train them in the manner and time you’ve previously had.  

What else is different about the remote recruiting process?

The only thing is that the recruitment process is longer and it involves more conversations with more people. Whereas before (in face to face interviews), it might have been a three-step process, now it’s probably a five or six stage process where you are getting the buy-in from people who wouldn’t normally be part of the interview process. Often it’s a sanity check, someone else to confirm that this is the right person for the role. I think that is probably the main thing and that’s going to apply to pretty much most businesses. In terms of references, yes you probably would take additional references but I think more important than that is having more people in the business speak to the candidate. 

 

Sid Bapodra helps leaders in technology build and retain vibrant and successful sales and presales teams by accompanying exceptional talent on their career journeys. In his free time, he performs improv comedy, explores biological and physiological stress response mechanisms, practices strength training, hypoxia training, and reads about irrational human behaviour, Stoicism, Faustian pacts, and elusive happiness. Connect with Sid.