BC Startup Sales Podcast – Hiring During & After COVID-19 with Amy Volas (Avenue Talent Partners)
We kick things off discussing what we’re seeing in the market today, essentially breaking it down into two broad groups – companies playing offense and those playing defense. One could argue some companies are staying neutral in a holding pattern (e.g. just hiring freeze but no layoffs), but we’ll go ahead and put them in the defense camp. We also discuss what this means for individuals laid off in this environment, and tips for what to do next.
1. Companies on offense
Companies playing offense are looking to scoop up talent that recently came onto the market. The thinking here is that a large amount of A and B players have come onto the job market after being laid off. While this is true, companies should still proceed thoughtfully. Before going out to acquire top talent just for the sake of it, ask yourself why do we need this role, why now, and be very intentional about it. Additionally, it’s a mistake to expect to hire A+ talent for less than A+ pay. Even in the current environment, you’ll have to pay up for top talent. Amy noted that some companies are using this as an opportunity to “topgrade,” bringing in top-quality talent to elevate the current team. Amy has put together this guide as well as this hiring scorecard to help companies hire sales reps during and after COVID-19.
2. Companies on defense
Companies playing defense, which is the majority, are looking to reduce burn and extend runway through hiring freezes, layoffs, furloughs, pay cuts (“voluntary” or otherwise), and other means. First things first, Amy recommends not letting fear override sensible decision making. She recommends founders and their executive team use a tool called burnrate.io to help estimate an accurate burn rate for the coming months. Then, once you’ve made the tough decision to introduce cost-cutting measure, be very thoughtful about how you go about it. Look at your values, walk your talk, look at the things that you touted in a great economy, and treat your employees with utmost respect and transparency while embodying “The Golden Rule” as you think about how to communicate changes internally (and externally). It is also a good opportunity to quadruple down on the team still in place. Remove barriers for them, help them uncover blind spots, and get creative about how you will reward them for sticking it out with the company once we’re on the other side of this crisis. Another key piece Amy advises companies on is to communicate, communicate, communicate. Leadership should be not only actively communicating what changes are being made, but they should also be proactive about communicating the plan, the vision, and, if possible, how you’ll reward the team that sees it through to the light at the end of the tunnel.
3. Individuals who have been laid off
Lastly, we discuss tips for individuals that have been on the receiving end of company layoffs. First things first, try not to post immediately on LinkedIn when emotions are running high. Take a step back, give yourself several days to process, reflect, think about how you can apply your experience/learnings to your future employer. When you do start exploring new opportunities and potential employers, use a scorecard to make sure it’s a good fit. Amy recently revamped her favorite scorecard which you can find here. Bowery Capital also recently put together this guide for interviewing in the time of COVID-19.
With more than $100MM in revenue sold, FUND’s top 50 in SaaS, and named one of Sales Hacker’s Most Dynamic Women In Sales, Amy Volas is a sales fanatic turned entrepreneur. She was bitten by the startup bug many moons ago and couldn’t imagine spending her time anywhere else. She created Avenue Talent Partners to help with the tremendous task of growing startups through some of their most valuable assets – sales leaders and enterprise salespeople.