SaaStr 2022 is over for this year!
And not surprisingly, the human dimension was present in almost every talk.
This is all the more important as there is a severe lack of commercial and technological skills, and the economic insecurity that is occurring is destabilising recruitment policies in tech.
Paul Albert, SVP Global Sales at Payhawk, has grown his team from 30 to 240 employees over the past few years. He reminds us of the importance of the qualities systematically required of candidates, and the importance of their being aligned with the company's values. In fact, in junior positions, schooling or experience ultimately counts for less than the candidate's abilities to be assessed during the interview. For example, Payhawk's values are :
Arsenio Otero, COO of Celonis, spoke briefly about the 5 axes to evaluate when recruiting:
On the company's sales process, Paul Albert reminds us of the obvious: to attract the top 1% of the market, the salary must follow, whatever the employer brand. Apart from salary, Payhawk has also put in place a number of good practices for "seducing" candidates: a systematic moment of conversation between each high-potential candidate and an executive, a speech explaining the current importance of each role and its potential future development, special attention to diversity in recruitment, and a societal project to respond to the quest for meaning among current candidates.
Recruiting in all countries, it has also implemented a 70/30 rule: 70% of the process common globally, and 30% flexibility to meet local specificities.
Finally, he talks about the importance of transparency and feedback to candidates in order to create a trusting experience.
Arsenio Otero (Chief Operating Officer at Celonis), Paul Albert (SVP Global Sales at Payhawk) and Firmin Zocchetto (CEO of Payfit) spoke separately about the importance of an extremely well defined and rigorously executed recruitment process. There are two reasons for this: the first is related to the'juniority' of profiles such as BDRs, which means that there is a large volume of candidates to process, coupled with the high turnover in the function. In order to recruit well, it is therefore necessary to recruit in a scalable way.
The second reason is related to the company culture: the recruitment process is the first strong contact with the employees, and all candidates, even those who are not selected, should leave with the best impression of the company culture.
On the more senior roles, Peterjan Bouten, Co-founder of Showpad, Henry Schuck, CEO of ZoomInfo, and Jason Lemkin, founder of SaaStr, were unanimous on the impact of a bad managerial recruitment made in a hurry, or on the reputation of the previous company. All shared their negative experience of such recruitment in the long term.
According to Lekim, a VP should spend 50% of his or her time sourcing the best talent, as recruitment is time consuming and critical. In particular, Henry Shuck points out that it is better to spend time recruiting talent than optimising a process, as the former will take the team or company to the next level, whereas optimisation can be done by cross-functional teams.
Finally, Jason Lemkin insists that recruiting a senior profile does not imply the total delegation of the business: "Once you understand that you are going to continue to manage the business anyway, you come out of a state of mind where you were looking for a sales manager, and you go into the mindset of going to recruit a co-pilot, with values and qualities that bring you together.
As with its recruitment process, Arsenio Otero has established a standard onboarding process that is structured and communicated to all, so that this clarity generates more efficiency and less stress for new employees. Arsenio reminds us that just because onboarding is mainly on the job and specific to each function, this does not mean that the process cannot be standardised.
Melinda Cormier, VP Growth Marketing at Lumapps, and Alfred Saad, CRO at Lumapps, also talk about clarity for new employees in setting goals, consistent management over time, and celebrating success.
This clarity is also extremely important so that each employee can develop autonomously within his or her scope. At Lumapps, the employee experience has therefore been treated in the same important and structured way as the customer experience, in 5 phases: Recruit, Onboard, Commit to a mission and a culture, Develop autonomously, and then specialise in an expertise.
Finally, at Payhawk, Paul Albert has supported a policy of 50% internal promotions, which gives credibility to the development plans.
Henry Shuck, Founder of InfoZoom, also returned to the obvious need to develop employees and the role of the manager. Indeed, employees are not born champions, they become them, and putting more pressure on top talents without coaching them only sets them up for failure.
To do this, he reminds them of a practice they should put in place for their managers: train themselves to have difficult conversations and often. Since training and coaching are largely based on feedback, managers must constantly train themselves to give feedback. This feedback must be both sincere and engaging.
For employees who experience a drop in performance, Schuck always seeks to understand in a sympathetic way whether the factors behind the drop in performance are exogenous or endogenous, so that appropriate measures can be taken quickly.
Paul Albert agrees, recalling the investment that the company must make in developing the leadership of each individual, in the same way that the teams are trained in their technical subjects.
On technical skills, Jason Lemkin recommends systematically benchmarking the top two talents in the team. "With two top talents, you can understand the common success factors, and quickly move to five or six top performers.
If you only have one, the secret sauce is impossible to guess." He also returns to the need in sales functions to re-listen to customer calls and videos with the teams "be shocked, and act. Make quick training decisions. A sales manager who doesn't spend a minimum amount of time per week re-listening to his teams' conversations with customers is a poor manager.
Not surprisingly, the various presenters reminded us of the key role of corporate culture and values, both in the engagement and retention of employees. This is achieved through rational measurement and feedback, as Pieterjan Boutan, Co-founder of Shawpad, showed. He also reminds us that caring and attention to the physical and moral health of employees is key in a SaaS world that is both changing and competitive.
Please do not hesitate to contact Nadine Yahchouchi, CMO of Modjo, or Paul Berloty, CEO of Modjo, if you wish to discuss thetakeaways of SaaStr, a very nice 2022 edition.
Finally, we leave you with Jason Lemkin's advice to all those starting out in their professional lives: "Stay. Stay longer where you are, and do more of what you love. If your manager, the product you're creating, and the company you've joined is good, stay. Don't trade the good for the better, you will learn more in the long run and in consistency, than in the constant change and endless quest for the perfect."