Team skeeled: Sales & Talent Management as number one operating priority
It’s time to resume our series of posts about skeeled’s team members and continue to lead you on a behind the scenes tour, so that you can learn more about us and the work that we do.
In today’s article we present you Olfa Djemal, who we welcomed to our team as our Head of Sales in January this year. She is responsible for overseeing day-to-day sales operations, developing talent, building and maintaining strong and long-lasting relationships with clients and championing for customer success.
Olfa joined skeeled because she highly valued the company’s vision of “empowering companies to hire not only based on CVs but also on the skills of the candidate” and she has brought in a vast know-how in HR and Tech sales that is transforming the way we do business.
During our conversation, Olfa and I discussed her professional background, what attracted her to our project and how she’s taking skeeled’s sales department to the next level.
Tech, HR and Sales: a powerful combination of skills
Olfa defines her background as “half tech and half HR”, as she has worked in the tech industry for several years and during the last couple of them she worked at LinkedIn.
“I have always been very close to HR and Recruitment in general, but what I am the most passionate about is the tech”, she tells me. But it so happens that she started working in tech by “mistake”. It’s not something she was “passionate about before discovering it” but even though it still is “very difficult for women to reflect into the tech industry”, she believes that it offers “amazing opportunities for women”.
When it comes to HR, Olfa is focused on talent. “My vision and what I bring to the table is not hard HR or recruitment, it’s talent that is my number one operating priority. It’s something I have been trained for at LinkedIn and that I enjoy a lot, putting the human first, making sure I develop talent, making sure the relationships that I build at work are meaningful on both sides”.
And as a true Talent Scout, she always keeps these questions in mind: “how can I help develop people and how can I make sure they see development in their career?”.
Another thing she is passionate about? Sales! “I’ve also worked in tech and talent sales. I’m a sales person, I like everything related to making a company profitable”. From closing deals to managing customer success or training sales people on how to approach clients and candidates and developing a strategy for monetising all that is what she appreciates the most, “because you see the direct impact on the company”, she says.
But for Olfa, selling goes even further: “when I do a deal I see the direct impact on my company because of the revenue but I also see an impact on the company we’ve sold our product to”. And she clarifies: “I don’t like one shot sales. I like to build a relationship with the customer and when we have a conversation I like to see that the tool we have implemented with them is really embedded in the flow and the progression and growth of the company”.
Reversing your way from big corporations to a startup
As to why she chose to join skeeled, Olfa had both a personal and a business reason.
On a personal level, she was looking at coming back to Europe to be closer to her family. But she always thought Dublin was the city she would come back to because most of the tech companies are based there.
Recruitment processes based on CV only were one of the main reasons why she decided to go work for American companies like Oracle, Salesforce and LinkedIn, “because they don’t care about what kind of degree you have as long as you have the talent and prove them that you are willing to learn. You can have a bachelor’s in psychology and be an amazing salesperson. What matters are the skills that you bring to the table”.
On top of that, she adds: “I’ve even been told when I interviewed that I was arrogant, just because I was asking them to tell me what they would do to invest in me as an employee”.
But then she found out about skeeled and as she herself had experienced how difficult it felt to be part of traditional recruitment process, she felt strongly captivated by the opportunity to empower companies with a software that allows them to make hiring decisions based on the actual skills of the candidates, not only their CV, whilst providing the best application experience.
From the perspective of the business challenge, skeeled also really appealed to her because after having worked with really big companies like Oracle, Salesforce and LinkedIn, which have thousands of employees, she was looking for the opportunity to “building the structure of a sales organization from scratch, using the experience of bigger companies but running it at a smaller scale and have a faster and bigger impact”.
Her experience at skeeled has been very positive so far. “What I appreciate the most is that everything I do has a direct impact, even if it is discussing our contracts with the legal department, I know our clients are going to be served in a better way. If it is implementing procedures, I know people will feel that they are supported and that they are understood”. Olfa also appreciates a lot the fact that our hierarchy is very flat because the direct interaction between departments allows everyone to adapt and change when it’s needed. “I really feel that we are super aligned and that everything we do is towards being sustainable but also bringing in the best service”.
Creating the sales organisation within skeeled
From a strategic point of view, Olfa says that “before you can have any sales organization running fully you need to have the right methodology, know your market and make sure your product is fitting”.
When it comes to the methodology, we need to “make sure your sales people are trained and set up for success. You need to invest in talent but also hire the best talent”. The role of a Head of Sales is a lot towards the people “and what you do with people starts with teaching and then coaching and then mentoring. This is the natural cycle to empower talent.”
Her main goal is to “provide the best sales academy ever, so that the people that come feel like they can grow and become the best version of themselves in what they do within the organization and beyond”.
Regarding the market, her first move was to look at who our customers are and what our target is, so that she could start building a scalable business model.
“Our target market are the mid-market companies with recruitment needs or bigger companies that have no recruitment tool in place or have a lack of understanding of what the digitalisation of recruitment processes means”. And because “everything is relative” it’s very important to put it into data. “For example, Luxembourg is a region where we’re working well but we need to scale it in terms of market penetration before we can say we are doing amazingly”.
Another important aspect of her sales strategy was unifying and automating processes. “It’s very important to establish methodologies when it comes to sales in general. How do we approach a customer, what are we going to say, what is our message, what differentiates us from our competitors?”
Social selling, a tool to build relevant connections
More importantly, Olfa and her team are focused on how they can help our clients. “At the end of the day it’s not about us, it’s about the customer. If we don’t apply that in our day-to-day we are going to lose, we’re going to be the people that are just knocking on doors and that’s not going to work”. “Our customers and our prospects in general are the people that are going to provide us with the best data possible on how to approach them”, she says.
For Olfa, social selling is a very big topic and she wanted to bring it to this company. “How do we social sell? Well, we need to be really interested on what the client has to say or what the prospect actually does and use this data that is provided around us to make sure that we stop asking a prospect: “hey do you have 15 min, I want to pitch you my product” and instead build relevant connections by showing customers and prospects that we understand their challenges and that we have the know-how to help them.
She also values good warm qualification calls over two hour-long meetings with potential clients because “down the line we might not be the right tool for them. We want to be able to tell a prospect that we’re not ready to work together or they’re not the right customer for us, because we’re not a one-shot sale company. We are a company that wants to build relationships forever. So, disqualifying is as important for us and for the customer as qualifying and understanding where we don’t belong is as important as defining where we can help”.
As for the internal structure of the sales team Olfa redefined the scope of the sales roles. “Having different roles in sales where there’s someone that sells the deal and someone that follows up uniquely was not where we wanted to go. So, we have established a sales team where the prospection until the close and beyond, anything that happens after, is done by one person”.
This improvement is also about providing our customers with the best support to make them successful. “That is very important because we’re building a business and a strategy of market penetration and we want our customers to be rewarded for being the ones that are making our business strong”.
Customer Success Management is a key point for skeeled, “being proactive, anticipating the needs of our customers and making sure they understand that for us this not just about making a sale and we’re done”. Instead, we “establish KPI’s with them, we establish a business model with them and we stay with them along the way”, she adds.
The secret to succeed in the HR Tech market
From her experience, Olfa learned that “there are two aspects to it: the aspect of HR and the aspect of how HR aligns with the priorities of the company”. Human Resources serve as a connection point between parties of a company and the parties of departments. But that is “often forgotten, leading to a great disconnection between the decisions that are made at a business level and HR”.
However, more and more companies nowadays have understood that if they are disconnected “they will not function properly, they will not attract the right talent, they will not retain the right talent, they will not have a strong employer brand outside and down the line they will not see their business grow”.
These are the kind of conversations we need to have in order to be a lot more strategic. “Once you understood how an HR department works, take a step back and see how that is embedded in the priorities of the company”.
The importance of the digital transformation of the recruitment process
Regarding tech revolutions, Olfa tells me that there’s always a “part of us that is going to be passive-aggressive towards a change”. She mentions bank cards and how for so long people didn’t trust “plastic money” and were afraid to use it. And then she asks me if I could imagine the world now without bank cards. Probably not.
Now, when you look at recruitment, the digitalisation goes beyond just being able to recruit the right person. It concerns your employment branding and your ability to stay competitive and relevant.
“Many people are open to discuss new and better job opportunities. But the people that are applying directly probably aren’t always the one that you want specially for companies that want to hire very high skilled people, let’s say a developer. The developer is probably not going to be on job boards, he’s probably not going to be the one that is going to apply directly”.
It’s all about being proactive. “If you manage to change the way you think and if you manage to be proactive in the way you process candidates, if you manage to be proactive in how you answer them quickly, you’re creating an experience. An experience that will last and that is what is needed to move towards the revolution of digitalisation in general”.
Most of all, in today’s job market you’re competing with other companies that do so. And if you don’t follow the changes now you’ll find yourself in a situation where you won’t be able to deal with these challenges at all. Olfa points out that by 2030, 75% of the workforce will be millennials. “A millennial is someone that doesn’t know anything else other than a digital world”.
These people won’t be attracted if “you continue using old-school paper and you continue not being able to answer people very quickly because we live in a world of instant reward and instant satisfaction”.
Furthermore, people want to be able to decide when, where and how to apply or do video interviews and digitalisation is the only way to cope with this. “Companies that don’t embrace digitalisation will not be able to sustain and this is not only about recruitment, it’s about everything we do”, Olfa concludes.
Thanks for reading and see you next time!
Your team here at skeeled