This post is based on a podcast with Jeff Perkins. If you’d like to listen to more #FlipMyFunnel Podcast episodes, you can check them out here and listen to this episode below!
Retention and talent acquisition take up a lot of bandwidth in conversations today. So Sangram sat down with a real pro, Jeff Perkins, to ask him how he constantly adds to his rockstar marketing team.
Jeff is the CMO at ParkMobile in Atlanta. Before that, he was CMO at QASymphony, VP of Marketing & Inbound Sales at PGi, a director at AutoTrader.com, … and the list goes on.
He’s hired a lot of people, he always seems to be in the know about who to hire. (Sangram even gets consistent emails from him about recruitment.) So, how does he constantly have such a solid talent pool, even in today’s market? Let’s find out.
Here’s what we’re unpacking today:
- How to use your network to create an ever-increasing talent pool
- Promoting individuals in highly specialized roles
- Building a team at a start-up
- Hiring fast, firing fast
You Know About Start-Ups. What’s it Really Like Building a Team at a Start-Up?
Start-ups are hard. Most people think, “I’m just going to join this start-up, and in the 2 years I’m going to be a billionaire! It’s going to be awesome, and I’m going to get a yacht.” The truth is: It’s really hard. Here’s something else people miss: Your success as a marketing leader, or an executive in your company, is based less on how good you are at your job, how creative you are, or your skill level. It’s based more on how good of a team you can build. That’s step one — realizing that with the right team, you can really do anything.
Why Is It Hard for People to Recognize How Important Their Team Is?
Everyone believes they’re very smart. People spend a lot of money to get degrees at fancy schools. When they get into their job, they think, “All right, I’m going to carry this all on my shoulders.” And yes, sometimes in a start-up, you must have that mentality. But, most often, you’ll be depending on the team around you. Even in my job as CMO, I must have this mentality. Yes — I probably know a lot about marketing. And I’m pretty good generalist, but for me to be excellent at different pieces of the marketing puzzle, I have to find the right specialist to really take it to that next level.
What Are Some Tips on Promoting Your Employees?
I like to hire specialists. But I call them specialists with stretch. That’s the key when you’re looking at candidates: assessing not only can this candidate do a good job at what I’m asking them to do today, but can they grow into a broader role tomorrow. So I always look for stretch potential. And the way you gauge stretch potential is through a couple of things:
- Are they able to demonstrate results on their programs?
- Are they the kind of marketer who cares about the results, tracks the results, & is proud of the results?
- Are they the kind of person who has invested in themselves, with additional education, certifications, etc.?
- Is this the kind of person who could take on a broader role in the organization in a couple years ?
How Do You Promote Individuals in Highly Specialized Roles?
Let’s take a graphic designer: Yes they want to grow their career and expand their skill set, but a lot of times, they want to do that through learning new aspects of graphic design. So, if they’re doing a lot of print work, how about video? If they’re doing a lot of video, how about digital? So, there are even ways within a much more specialized function to help them grow.
One of the things that we did recently at Park Mobile: We had a woman who was very much a generalist and she was doing everything. She did email marketing, design, and social media. We sat down with her and asked:
“What do you really want to do?”
She decided she wanted to do graphic design. Now, she’s not a formally trained graphic designer, but she’s passionate about it, and you’re already halfway there if you’re passionate. So, we said, “OK, let’s do this. Let’s get you out to the Adobe conference, so you can really learn.” We invested in her.
How Do Find the Best Talent?
Instead of using recruiters, here’s what I do: I’m very involved in all the marketing associations in town, I speak at a lot of events, I try to be very visible. I also maintain a very active network of people who are CMOs or other marketing leaders. So when I have a job opening, I have a list of about a 100 people that I send that job description to first.
I email, everyone in a curated list, and I put it on BCC so people aren’t going to annoy those people, but I’ve gotten some great candidates that way. Also, I share, too. If I don’t have a spot open but my colleague at another company does, I’ll share great candidates with that person. So, then, when it’s my turn to hire, maybe they’ll share someone with me. So, the network is key.
Can You Tell Us About Hire Fast, Fire Fast?
The saying goes hire slow, fire fast. But recently, I found I was taking too long and I was getting left at the aisle. I lost 3 candidates that way. So we were ready to go out with an offer for a candidate, and they would call back and say, “I’ve accepted a job at another company.” This happened to me 3 times. Now, I move very fast. Often, I don’t let them leave the office. If I decide they’re the one, I will make them an offer on the spot!
1: To be an excellent leader, you must start recognizing that it’s not about you — it’s about your team. And the faster you build a great team, the faster you’ll become a great leader. When you give your team the spotlight, it reflects on you as a leader.
2: Hire specialists with a stretch goal. You’re looking for people who care about their work, who care about meeting results, exceeding results, and investing in themselves.
3: You can’t be recruiting while sitting in our office. You have to be constantly tuned into what’s happening in the marketplace. Build your network and be aggressive about building a talent pool. You may or may not need them right now, but at some point, if you need them, you don’t want to be the person who gets left at the altar.
The challenge I would give to every leader is to really start focusing on your network. Make time every week to do something related to building your network. That could be a lunch with a colleague, that could just going on LinkedIn for a while and looking at who’s doing cool stuff in the marketing world. Here’s something I’m doing to build my own network: I’m going to go to a marketing awards banquet to see what companies are getting awarded. Because obviously if they’re winning awards then it’s probably a good indicator that they have someone with talent.