Want to learn strategies to get more clients for your staffing agency? In this episode of The Staffing Show podcast, Rob Mann of Great Recruiters shares valuable insights, tools, and tactics to win in the staffing game, especially during this age of digital transformation. 

David Folwell:  Hello everyone. Thank you for joining The Staffing Show once again. Super excited to have Rob Mann with Great Recruiters joining us today. Rob, why don’t you go and kick it off and tell us a little bit about yourself and what you’re doing today?

Rob Mann: Well, thanks Dave, for having me. First and foremost, I’m happy to be a second-time guest. So that’s always exciting. What I’m doing today? Well, that’s a good question because I have to check my calendar normally. So I’m kinda in the mix of doing a lot of solutioning for companies, whether that’s companies thinking about how they’re going to do sales now that the workforce is work-from-home, work from anywhere, hybrid. It’s really going to change maybe a brick-and-mortar strategy of how you sell your services.

Thinking about the gig economy a lot and what on-demand platforms are going to be doing. And thinking about the future of marketing, because again, you have to figure out where your customers are, what your customers are going through, and how to talk to them. So they’re all kind of the same thing, they’re kind of similar processes. But obviously a little more targeted for each one.

Folwell: Yeah. And I’m always excited to have you on the show. Every time we talk, I guess your second time on the show, but you and I have talked quite a bit and think you’re out there in the forefront talking about the digital transformation with a lot of agencies, with a lot of vendors. And to top it off, you also have your background with Herefish where you’ve got the marketing automation, recruiter automation, you got Able, you know about the future of how people are going to be onboarded and what’s on there.

And then now you’re at Great Recruiters and getting into the experience management review side of things. So I always think your perspective on all of this is very valued and I’m excited to jump in here today. One thing that you brought up just previously in conversation was really where our sales go in the future state of sales in the staffing industry?

Mann: Yeah. So, I think 2020 is the precursor, right? It drove 10 years of digital transformation in one year or nine months. Still going on, but really 2020 from March on really drove digital transformation. I don’t think anyone needs stats for me to back that up. I think everyone has felt it and seen it or purchased things to improve their experience. Because this digital transformation thing is going on, you have to think about where your customers are and how to reach them.

So what I keep thinking about is how staffing companies are going to need to take the playbook of like a SAAS software company or a consulting and digital services company, and be online more, tell better stories online, get eyes online. Like really focus on using the eye economy or the attention economy, and really just up-level how they are going to market and trying to reach out to prospects and their current customers upsell.

So Great Recruiters, I’m over here now. Through the Great Recruiters tool and our company profiles, we can prove quality of service. And because we collect testimonies and make them easy to search, you can actually let your customers or your candidates tell your prospective customers or other candidates that you’re trying to work with, what it’s like to work with you. Which is part of that digital storytelling. Like I mentioned statistics because everyone always wants a stat in their story. So using a stat to prove quality of service or how many reviews you have, and how many are positive is really going to be a part of it, which is something that we’re really familiar with when it comes to Amazon or buying anything online. And that will soon become a more common place for services as well.

Folwell: Yeah, it is funny as we think about how we make decisions as consumers, but really how you make decisions as a whole. It almost started off, talking about this with Adam [Conrad, also of Great Recruiters] quite a bit, but it starts with what are other people saying about it? And looking for reviews and trying to figure out, if you’re making an informed decision, it’s always great to see what other people have said about it. And we’re used to it. Restaurants, it’s now a must. I don’t go to a restaurant without looking at Yelp. I’m obsessed with it.

And even watching a movie now, it’s Rotten Tomatoes. If I don’t see an audience score above 80, odds are probably not watching it. And I think that same trend is absolutely coming to the staffing industry. Do you have any stories or anything else that you want to elaborate on? How you’re seeing things move towards the importance of reviews for recruiters?

Mann: Well, I think the easiest way to say it is people buy from people. So as much as traditionally, we would hide our recruiters and not let them build a personal brand online or in general, because you were afraid they were going to get poached. I think it’s Sir Richard Branson quote that’s attributed to him. It’s like, “What happens if we spend all this money and train them and they leave“? And the CFOs or whatever the saying, it’s like “What happens if we don’t train them and they stay“? And so, if you’re going to invest in your recruiters and by the way it’s something that Brian Cunningham of Allen Recruitment said to me the other day on a webinar, he goes, “Rob, there are more fricking coaches on LinkedIn right now than anything else. It’s kind of crazy. And they’re all coaching like personal branding. And this is because user-generated content, storytelling, and digital storytelling is really what content creation and the attraction economy’s about.” So, using statistics is great, but understanding how to story tell is great too. And thank God there are so many podcasts and so many tools to learn storytelling that you can reference to now.

Folwell: Yeah. And then it’s by the way, for our listeners, if you haven’t, you’ve got to check out Rob’s podcast. It’s a good one. It’s ongoing, You Own The Experience.

Mann: Yeah. I’m a terrible self-promoter, so yes, it is “You Own the Experience” podcast.

Folwell: I’ll take care of you. I’ll take care of you Rob.

Mann: Thank you. I’m sorry. What were you going to ask?

Folwell: Oh, I was just saying, the one other thing you brought up there, which I think is so interesting is, it was about three years ago and I was on a run. I was just thinking about like, what is the actual product that staffing firms are selling? And where I kept coming back to is there are two products. They’re selling the job, at least from a candidate’s perspective, from candidate’s perspective, they’ve got the job and then they’ve got the recruiter. And you’re buying both. And a lot of times you’re buying into that relationship with the recruiter and that recruiter is kind of the product. And then I started thinking about what website can you go to…if you go to toyota.com and they didn’t have their cars listed, it would be insane.

Mann: Right. That’s a great analogy for it is true. And you know it, I… Oh God, sorry, I’m going to cut you off. I go to every company’s website that I prospect to and sell to or deal with. When I don’t see people on a recruiting website, I’m like, “Don’t want to work with you. Who am I going to work with?” Yeah. Your people are your brand.

Folwell: Your people are your brand, and not having them have a digital presence. I think that’s with Great Recruiters you get recruiter profiles. For Staffing Referrals, we’ve got the same thing. It makes sense that it’s trying to get that out there. And I think I’ve actually seen more and more agencies move towards that, where they’re trying to figure out how to get the recruiters on the website, which is pretty great.

Mann: Yeah. It’s definitely becoming more prevalent. So that’s a good sign.

Folwell: Yeah. And so, anything else on where you see sales going? Any other trends that you’re seeing or hearing about?

Mann: Yeah. How are you selling via Zoom? How are you selling via video chat? You gotta up those games. I’ve been selling via Zoom and video chat since 2018 now. I think about the guys that were selling a software like Cisco, Oracle, they were probably doing this, too. And so like, everyone’s saying it like business travel is going to go away. By the way, at least like being able to charge business class, the business travel is going to go away. So how do you convey your services and be able to communicate your services via a Zoom call or Skype? Having a slide deck that we developed. And this is the stuff that I’m thinking about.

It’s like I’m doing a webinar series called, Go-to-Market With Your Tech Stack, or your staffing tech stack. And we did an episode with Brian Cunningham of Allen [Recruitment], which was where he gave me that quote, like why he’s so sick of seeing coaches on LinkedIn. And with him, we actually, he’s going to offer a freemium model. He’s going to give you the first placement so that he can build a community. So he is actively building a community because he’s saying, “Hey, you’re in HR, you don’t get to talk to as many candidates as I do possibly. You don’t maybe have mentors that are other HR people.”

So his job is to get in the conversations. If everyone doesn’t want to pay Allen Rec’s fees. That’s great, but they’re going to keep interacting with Allen Rec people and the community that they’ve built so that when they are ready to use the Mercedes quality, cost structure, they know Allen Rec. So, I think you’ve got to really invest. You’re going to have to invest in selling through Zoom, using the digital world to build a community. And no offense to Career Builder, but whatever that talent pool thing is that they do, like, okay.

Folwell: And with that, you mentioned that it’s selling on Zoom, obviously everybody’s kind of shifted towards that, any specific tips or techniques that you got.

Mann: Listen man, you got to tune into the webinar. Dave. You’re not getting free. It’s next week. It’s next Thursday at 6:00 PM Eastern. It’s all over my LinkedIn and Matt’s LinkedIn. So Matt Dichter. I’m connected with Matt Dichter from Bullhorn who was one of the most successful sales account executives, at Bullhorn. And I’m going to say this during the webinar, but I’ve been thinking about it, when I was working at Bullhorn, Matt Dichter, if I had a question for the sales team, he was always the first person to answer with an in-depth answer. He really cares about his team success, about other people’s success and his customer success. So a shout out to Matt, I’m really excited for that.

Folwell: I would second that. He also digs in and understands all of the marketplace partners in a way that a lot of people don’t, it’s pretty impressive.

Mann: Yeah. He understands how to position marketplace partners to help him win the deals, because it is all part of the same solution selling, not just trying to push Bullhorn product where maybe it doesn’t fit. So yeah, again, Matt is definitely the best at that too.

Folwell: Yeah. Matt is the reason that I started reading, we went through Gap Selling. That got me down that path, I thought it was a fantastic book and got our team on it. And so it’s I said that was all from his LinkedIn post about how great it was. So that was just an empowering recommendation. So jumping in next topic – gig economy, online staffing, exact form. So I talked about this quite a bit and talks about some of the growth we’re seeing from companies like SnapNurse, and how there’s this huge shift towards the mobile first or at least the ability to manage your staffing, and then on your own. What are some of the trends that you’re seeing on that front? Anything exciting?

Mann: Shout out to SnapNurse, Sheree and Jeff, you guys are awesome. I love those guys. I met them when it was just starting and they were in an industrious office in Atlanta. So we’re having to have drinks with those guys early stage. So if you haven’t checked out what they’re doing. But let’s not talk about it. I’ll take it from a marketing angle. And this is something that I’ve been trying to drive into people. It’s like, are you studying what D2C people are doing?

And when I say D2C, direct-to-consumer. I was just attending the Drift conference. And the CMO of Beats by Dre goes, it’s not D2C. It’s not B2B. It’s not B2C. It’s B2H, business to human. Go back to the attention economy before you have these gig apps. If you’re a one-to-one app and you are in a certain vertical, and you know workers in that vertical are likely to work with four to five companies. And you have to make them download an app. What is the value of them going back to that app on a weekly or daily basis? So what are you going to do with that app that makes them want to sign in besides for work?

Because that’s a great reason and they’re going to go, I get that. But what happens if they’ve been getting really good work and now your app’s forgotten? How do you know that your app is forgotten? You have to go have the metrics to see the last time they logged in and you have to call them. Or provide something in the app, an in-app experience, for them to keep using it. So what our D2C companies do that bring people back to their app? So like Uber, Uber eats they have, “Hey, if you spend 85 bucks, we’re going to give you 10% off or $15 off.” Like I always see.

Rewards programs, loyalty programs. You see some fitness companies where they give you discounts if you use, like Peloton doesn’t need to do this, but essentially Peloton could say, “Hey, if you work out for three days in a row we could discount your membership for the next month.” So what’s the ROI on someone using the app 30 days in a row? And what’s the conversion rate of them staying on the app for the next three years?

And your guaranteed revenue is $5 less, but it’s guaranteed. Because you know that you’re rewarding them. So this is the stuff that I’m thinking about. Not the Peloton needs to do that by any means, but they’re blowing up without any kind of gimmick.

Folwell: Yeah, they’re doing all right.

Mann: But that’s the idea. And I’m looking at a Peloton, which is why I referenced the brand. Does that make sense?

Folwell: Yeah, absolutely. And I think essentially all of the different places for people to drive retention, whether it be through the app and through engaging with the platform or just retention on with their actual brand, we’re hearing more of staffing firms in light industrial and travel and health care as well, that are looking at different types of loyalty programs where, there’s bonuses basically, and more directly incentivize behavior that you want, if you want somebody to renew a contract, if you want them to work with you longer term, we’ve seen people that are saying, doing that through referral programs, doing it through loyalty programs which makes a lot of sense.

And it’s interesting to see staffing agencies starting to look at themselves almost like you would see in the software side where it’s like, “All right, well, what’s the customer lifetime value?” Not, “What’s the value on this one placement?” 

Mann: It’s crazy to be in the technology space for four years, and to see the trailing prevalence of technology that the sales world, sales-enabled world three years ago, four years ago, and how it’s flowing into ours. Like now everyone’s talking about conversational intelligence. They were talking about that with Gong and Chorus three years ago. Cool.

I’m not going to tell you what’s next because I’m going to build software around it. So I’m not going to tell you what’s going to come up next, but go pay attention to the freakin SAAS sales world and see what the sales enablement guys are doing, because that’s what you’re going to need for your recruiting company.

Folwell: It is amazing. I looked at the HubSpot sales five years ago, I was doing sequences and adding calendars and had my meetings booking tool. And now, you started to see the massive adoption of staffing agencies getting calendars booked in as well. 

Mann: And now you see Brian cutting in, we did that five years ago in the freemium world already. He’s four or five years ahead of everybody all the time. It’s amazing what they’re doing. So pay attention to Allen Recruitment out of Ireland, if you actually want to be a modern staffing company. That’s a good start.

Folwell: I love it. I love it. So with that, we jumped around there quite a bit, you gave quite a few kind of action items, but do you have any specific stories or additional kind of tips? I know you’re telling them who to look out to, but what else you got on the gig side of things?

Mann: I’m concerned. I think my biggest thought process is one-to-one or one-to-many, which I said earlier, and I didn’t reference it. But is it going to be worthwhile to be part of a group that’s on a one-to-many app? So that you can get eyes on your job simply because you have a cohort of companies using the same technology, but you get a larger adoption. Because again, so maybe I don’t have real stories for you, David, but these are the things I’m thinking about. Is it worth it for one-to-many or is it going to still be worth it to go one-on-one or one-to-one on these apps? And I think maybe vertical is going to determine that.

Folwell: Yeah, it’s interesting to see all the people, the different approaches to building the marketplace. And I bring this up frequently on the podcast, but it reminds me so much of the travel industry with, you’ve got Marriott wanting to have all of the bookings go direct, and then you’ve got Kayak who’s out there saying like, well, we’re going to list all of the hotels and we’re going to get to the lowest price and booking.com and etc. So it’s intriguing to see how much it seems to parallel that. And I think my opinion on the one-to-one versus one-to-many is that both are going to be winners.

And the key though is that there’s going to be the staffing agencies where you’re like, “Oh, I go direct because they’ve created the best experience.” And then there’s going to be the marketplaces who win as well because they will also have created the best experience. So I think it’s going to be, I think the keyword there is actually like making sure that people that are engaging with it are getting value in having an experience you want them to have because that’s how we’ve seen it in the travel industry. I imagine that that’s going to apply pretty strongly here as well.

Mann: Yeah. I think you’re talking about the experience and the value add, which is a marketing thought process. And everything is marketing. If you’re not thinking like a marketer, if you’re not thinking like a tech company, you’re going to be missing out because that’s really where it is now. It’s like, why am I going to pay attention to you versus somebody else? Or why am I going to use your app, which I keep saying? Again, this is just one giant marketing conversation. So, what’s interesting is, let’s take Nike as an example of something where this is one-to-many to one-to-one. So Nike is in the current process of getting rid of all of its partnerships for digital sales.

So they are unbundling and they’re going to try and be one-to-one. I can’t remember who the CEO they hired, but he’s a direct-to-consumer digital sales guru. And he’s taking it out of Amazon. He’s taking it out of all these other third parties and he’s bringing it solely to nike.com and all of their brands. There was a period where Nike was available through direct channels, like DICK’S Sporting Goods. And then I think Amazon is like where everything got bundled. And because of Amazon, the bundle is getting broken because people are tired of paying fees.

Like people are tired of paying the Apple App Store 30% fee. See Fortnite, Fortnite is fighting it.

Folwell: I love that. The Fortnite story’s amazing by the way.

Mann: Yeah. And they’re fighting Android, the Play Store on that as well. I think it is like a ride like a tide. I’m a big fan of Snacks daily from Robinhood, the podcast. They call it like the bundling, unbundling effect and it’s cyclical. Things are unbundled and then they become bundled and they become unbundled. There’s kind of this, like this flow of these things happening.

Folwell: I didn’t realize Nike was pulling out of Amazon and doing that and trying to go direct to fully.

Mann: I think they did already. I think they did a couple of months ago.

Folwell: Yeah, just Googled, it looks like it actually happened even a while back.

Mann: Six months ago? Seven months ago?

Folwell: Yeah. So an interesting move by them. I also feel like that to that point, it’s like everything is about the omnichannel reaching out different approaches. And then you have companies who are like, “Screw it, let’s fight it.

Mann: I don’t think they’re fighting it because they already have the brand. They’re not fighting anything, they don’t need the distribution, you know where to go to buy Nikes.

Folwell: Yeah. I’d be interested in how it plays out. I mean, We look at, like, Marriott’s not going off of Kayak or TripAdvisor, you’re always going to be able to book on their site or others. And they found ways to lure people to direct, but they haven’t found a way to win that battle fully.

Mann: What exclusive thing do you get from buying directly from Marriott?

Folwell: I believe there might be a low price guarantee. And I think maybe a bonus on the points. I’m not exactly sure, but I know that they definitely tried to add some benefits there.

Mann: Does it outweigh the cost comparison and possible savings of seeing an aggregator? That’s the question. It sounds like no, right? Because they’re staying on Kayak.

Folwell: Yeah. It’s true. Amazon has taken up just a massive share of my wallet. It’s ease of use, it’s going to get there quickly. And when I find things, I’m like, “Oh, I got to go direct to my guy. I don’t need it.”

Mann: Yeah. I still buy some stuff directly. I’ve been actually, I think 2020 was a good kind of mix for me.

Folwell: Yeah. So with that, one of the conversations that we had just briefly, but you started talking about the importance of service. I think you actually brought up HubSpot Service Hub, where do you see things going on that project?

Mann: Okay. So the gig economy is a great way to throw this story. Because listen, you might be letting your customers enter job orders and pick and choose who they’re going to work with. And you’re just overseeing it. Even if you enter the job orders and manage it, there’s no relationship between the recruiter. So when you get to that point where you’re self-servicing, the number one thing you need to do is be obsessed with service.

If you have a self-service hub, you need to be obsessed with the customer service that you provide. Because that’s that experience that we keep talking about. That’s part of the value add that drives people back to your brand. So if you think about the Salesforces of the world, the HubSpots of the world, they all have a service hub that comes tertiary. Salesforce was built, then they acquired a marketing automation platform. And now it’s Salesforce Marketing Cloud. And HubSpot always was a marketing automation tool from its birth. So cheers to them.

And then, in our industry, you could use Salesforce and obviously have a really powerful recruiting tool over it. But really, if you’re a SaaS software, like if you’re a partner like Staffing Referrals or Great Recruiters, the first group you have to think about working within our industry is Bullhorn because they have the largest audience, they have the largest customer base. So if you equate Bullhorn to the HubSpots and Salesforces for our industry, the next thing that they’re going to have to build, and not hate me is some kind of service tool. Because if they’re going to have all these companies on gig apps or on-demand apps, or just looking online without touching a recruiter per se, or account manager, then customer service or customer success is the most important thing that you can have.

And so you’re going to have to teach, you’re going to have to see staffing and recruiting companies have a customer success department. A lot of them do like client-consultant care, et cetera. And those are going to be more of what you’re going to see across everything because customer service is the next logical step from where we’re going to be.

Folwell: Yeah. What’s interesting, as I haven’t thought about actually that on the staffing agency side and the need to really have that be an independent department, as we move to more of the online staffing world makes complete sense or I think that historically, I’ve probably brought this up with you a bunch of times, but I think that under-resourced on the staffing firms tend to under-resourced on marketing.

And I would imagine on the success side as well, that that’s just going to be a trend as we see companies start to pop up with a heavier focus on that, because it’s more of supporting the people going through the process than it is having to hold the hand as we move on to more of the kind of direct booking online staffing approach.

Mann: Absolutely. So I love customer success and this idea of it, because number one, they talk to customers all day. That’s all they do. So when you do get a customer success team, record their phone calls and transcribe them because that’s content. So now you have to worry less about marketing. Testimonials, feedback, customer stories, like candidate stories, are all content. That’s what you should be using for your content. And so I think like a marketer. So I love the opportunity that that provides. So it’s not a bad thing to have people solely focused on that, but they can’t be transactional folks. You need savvy humans that understand how much opportunity comes from hearing your customer stories and using those to help you tell your story better and what you solve.

So stop selling staffing services, start selling solutions. I think Dave, I was actually interacting with David Searns from Haley Marketing on LinkedIn. And he was like, “I don’t understand why we sell staffing services, not staffing solutions.” It’s a conversation that started to happen, but there’s a great opportunity for you to make your marketing life a lot easier. And your storytelling life a lot easier if you have a customer success team and record and transcribe those phone calls.

Folwell: Yeah. That’s amazing. I think about it as a content generation component of that. What do you say when, in terms of, I think companies I have talked to on that front frequently are afraid of letting that content out. They feel like, how do you approach that?

Mann: What are they afraid of? Fear is a terrible motivator just in general. You don’t have to let the whole conversation out, you have to tailor it. It’s not like you’re just going to put the transcript up if that’s what you’re afraid of. And honestly, sometimes putting the bad up with the good is good. Like, listen, the best advocates you are ever going to have as a human brand, or as a company is people who had a bad experience that you fixed. There is no greater way to make a huge fan than to have them have an, elicit an emotional reaction of something going terribly wrong and someone coming in and saving the day.

And so tell negative stories, how you fix them, what happened, give context around it, don’t be afraid of the negative. Don’t be afraid of the bad. Use it to help tell the story. We’re humans. We expect bad things to happen. The value comes when you provide a better experience and fix it. So I don’t know if that answers your question or if that’s the actual concern, but that’s what I took from that story.

Folwell: No, that’s great. I also think we’re past that stage with most businesses now, but I remember back in the day where people would be like, “Oh, well, I just got this negative post on my company’s Facebook page, and I just want to delete it.” It’s like no, no, no.

Mann: Love it. Love it.

Folwell: Own it, respond directly, get it offline, fix it, find a way to fix it and turn it into a positive, but the idea of deleting it is not the right approach there. So I think everybody’s looking for authenticity more than ever.

Mann: Yeah, of course. Right. And the other thing is like, if your recruiters know that you’re going to ask for feedback on their services, phone calls, placements, et cetera, guess what? They’re going to do a better job. Why do you think the call center people that you interact with do such a kick ass job? Because you were told before the call, “We’re going back to this,” Before you got on the phone with a live human that they’re going to ask for feedback. At the end of that conversation, that person who you’re on the call center person told you there’s going to be a survey. And if they did a kick ass job, I’m more likely to stay on and give it.

And then at the end of the call, it transferred you over to the survey. So if you can tell people, if your team knows that they’re going to get feedback, guess what? It’s going to get better.

Folwell: Absolutely love it. And definitely agree. So I know we’ve got one last question on kind of the business side of things, and then we’ll jump into some fun personal questions. Last one is a big topic as all of them have been. Any new marketing tactics, strategies, concepts, anything else that you’re seeing that as driving success for staffing firms?

Mann: So I just want to take this to the side that it goes back to this customer success question. So all these conversations tie so neatly together. I’m glad we did that. So your ability to tell stories from your customers and listening to your customers, right? So let’s say you’re a CMO of a 250, 300 person staffing firm, you’re in the nine-figure range for revenue. So if you’re there, your first thing you’re doing, and this is a SaaS playbook thing is you’re going to go talk to your top 10 customers, maybe your top 30, and you’re going to figure out what you solve for them. And that’s how you’re going to start your content journey.

But guess what? If you’re a one-person staffing firm, you can do that, but you just need to make it easy for you to scale, to tell that story, or have a partner who you collect the story, and then you share it. So that goes from one to whatever that’s still the best way to get to marketing. I’m still in love and shout out to Darren Westall from Paiger. If you guys haven’t checked out Paiger yet, it is an incredible tool. So Darren it’s called content app. Now it’s Paiger.

But if you think about what Pager says like, okay, you’re that 250, 300-person recruiting firm, and you have a marketing team who you spend a pretty good amount of their salary, and you enable them with X amount of budget. That budget pretty much gets wasted if no one from your company shares the content that they create. “Hey, marketing team, why aren’t we getting leads?” “Because we’re trying to make it easy for you guys to get leads by creating engaging content, but none of you share it.”

So Paiger takes that away. It makes it one-click, easy-to-share content that your marketing team is spending good money on and effort and time on to get that out so that people will engage with your brand and people can see you. So I think that’s the future. And then it’s like the HootSuite, the Sprout Social, but specifically for staffing and recruiting.

Folwell: That’s amazing. And where you kind of started on that question is something I think about frequently and also recommend all the time is that finding a way to consistently have a good voice of the customer where you have a process that’s standardized, you’re getting that feedback. And I think so many larger brands shy away from talking to a candidate or talking to the client, and really that’s where some of the best insights. When I was at GE literally day one, it was like, “All right, we’re going to set up these 15 customer calls before you start doing any marketing.”

So you’re going to get to know from the customer’s perspective, how they feel about our brand, so that’s your point of view as well. And I think that’s something that’s frequently missed. The one recommendation I’ve always had with staffing execs, is, one, have those conversations, find a way to have them on a quarterly basis with candidates and clients, but then also like eat your own dog food, go apply on your own site from your phone, like go do these things that take that extra step to really understand what the experience is like.

And the last part, this is a book that really helped me, it’s a book called Ask by Ryan Levesque. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that, but it’s about figuring out exactly what your customers want. It’s such a basic idea. It’s like, “Are you wanting to prove your product? Ask your customers what they want.” And it was kind of a methodology for how to do that, but it’s something that I think is frequently missed with a lot of times, people are sitting in a boardroom with a bunch of hypothetical solutions to things that maybe even aren’t the right problems. 

Mann: Yeah. And I think asking the right questions to figure out what the right problem is, is actually the key there. It’s like, are you reading between the lines? What I also think about too as someone who’s sat in a recruiting seat is, why didn’t they play those conversations as part of my training? So when I go to market, and I’m trying to add value, I’m like, “Oh, hey doctor, just so you know, we work with doctors just like you all the time. Here’s what they say. Here’s why they work with us. Does any of that ring a bell?” No. “Okay, cool.” Like moving on.

That’s a much better conversation for the doctor and for me than me slowly figuring that out because I’ve had so many conversations. At that point I need, I always call it at bats. Like I need at bats to figure out where the value is. Or you could just give me the at bats by giving me curated content that’s converted. I don’t know. I’d rather upskill my salespeople and recruiters faster.

Folwell: Absolutely. It is amazing that I don’t think I’ve actually ever had or even heard of anybody doing training where they’re listening to real recordings of calls going.

Mann: The new CTO, Hudson out of APAC plugged in Gong. There’s going to be like, get mad at me, but this has been like four years now. So he’s going to suffer. Plugged in Gong because Hudson dealt with people. So Hudson had a lot of like, ex-pats from Britain traveling who would do temporary six months assignments. So if your recruiters are only going to be there for six months, you need them to be productive at month one. And so he used Gong to figure out how to plug in the right words, how to have the right conversations from the top producers at Hudson, across the APAC region or the globe and use it. That’s the first I’ve heard of it. And really the only one, by the way.

Folwell: Yeah. I definitely think that’s the next phase. I haven’t tried out Gong. I’ve heard some good things, but I’ve also heard some other people say it’s not quite as insightful as they’d hoped yet. I’m interested to see what kind of what’s next on the recording and sentiment analysis.

Mann: I’ve been using Otter in my conversations. And it gives me some like keywords, so semantic keywords that get said a lot. And it also tells me how much I spoke versus the prospects or the people in the conversation. So those are the insights.

Folwell: What are you averaging?

Mann: 30/70, because it’s a show-up and throw-up demo. Or I’m just talking about the product and ask them questions.

Folwell: And you’re on the 30? You’re in the good you’re in the good range?

Mann: No, I’m on the bad range. Yeah. It’s a show-up and throw-up demo, for sure. It is what it is. But at least I know.

Folwell: The sweet spot supposed to like 20 to 40% if you’re the sales guy. Right? 

Mann: I think I’ll have to look like doing a deeper discovery call or having a discovery call kind of beforehand changes that.

Folwell: Yep. Awesome. The tool you said was Otter? I always love sharing some tools. It’s actually what I’m going to take a look at.

Mann: Yeah, otter.ai. So it records Zoom easier. So it says it’s like live broadcasting wall and you can see it like transcribing the words as we’re talking live. When I’m doing these, it’s also nice for the podcast. So then I don’t have to go in and transcribe. I don’t have to take the file and upload it to Otter to transcribe it. It’s just happening as we’re doing it.

Folwell: Oh, that’s fantastic. That’s great.

Mann: And it’s pretty cheap compared to Gong by the way. It’s significantly cheaper.

Folwell: Yeah. Well, good stuff. Good deal. We’ll give it a shot. All right. So jumping into the personal questions, the kind of a fire round. So the first one, in the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?

Mann: That’s a good question. I think actually caring deeply about the people that I’m working with has been the game-changer. So I’ll go with that, like making sure that I’m empathetic and understanding about what they’re going through, where they are has been a big one for me.

Folwell: Yeah. I honestly think that the empathy in the last year, as multiple times, I’ve heard people say, this is like, that is what we need. And everybody’s gone through it in many different ways. All right. So what is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.

Mann: HubSpot marketing training, inbound, understanding inbound.

Folwell: I’m actually going to second you on that one. And just the real quick that, that inbound training kind of pissed me off. I took it, it was seven years ago. And when I took it, I spent the last eight years building my own little marketing, inbound marketing strategy. I went through that training and I’m like, “My God, I just spent like an insane amount of time to get to the same spot where they’re like offering 70% of that value all in one training. And it just took me eight years to get it out.”

Mann: You did the at bat, so you did it the hard way, right?

Folwell: Yeah. I had actually built via WordPress plugins, equivalent of HubSpot at that point. 

Mann: That’s a lot of work.

Folwell: All right. So what are some of the bad recommendations that you hear in staffing?

Mann: I don’t know. That’s a good question. Bad recommendations that I hear in staffing. So just fill the order, don’t learn about your candidates. Don’t care about people, I guess.

Folwell: Do it transactionally?

Mann: Yeah, be transactional.

Folwell: Push it through. Yeah. Push it through.

Mann: It’s got to get it done.

Folwell: All right. What is the book or books that you’ve given most as a gift and why?

Mann: That’s a good question. I don’t really, again, given books, but I would say that if I told you to read a book, I would tell you to read, Influence, which everyone tells you.

Folwell: Oh, man.

Mann: I would tell you to read Teaching With Love and Light. It’s a book about empathy as a teacher. It’s the book I give the most to new teachers and coaches.

Folwell: Influence is a required reading here at this company. And there’s a whole series of them. Another one to check out, Catalyst. You heard of that?

Mann: I think yeah.

Folwell: That has been pretty killer, pretty killer. All the time. I’ll check out, Teaching With Love and Light. That’s a good recommendation.

Mann: I’ll try and get the author for you so you can post it. But that one I recommend and I buy it for people. I know it’s funny, I’m such a nerd, but if I was going to read, if I read fiction, it would be all the Ken Follett books, they’re gigantic books. So The Pillars of The Earth series.

Folwell: Nice.

Mann: So those are really, really great. And the character development is really great and all those guys, so I’m a nerd at the core. I’ve read way too many Star Wars books in my youth. So the X-Wing series for Star Wars.

Folwell: Okay. All right.

Folwell: Last question I’ve got is what is an unusual habit or absurd thing that you love?

Mann: God, I really wish my wife to answer this question. A bad habit is I love donuts and bacon. So today’s my birthday by the way. 

Folwell: Happy birthday.

Mann: Thanks brother. And so, I love sweets. So there’s an ice cream brand that the Rock is an investor in, Salt & Straw. And they opened a brick and mortar in Miami in Wynwood. And so, all of like a group of my friends are all vaccinated now. That’s mid or early April, and we’re going to dinner. And so I ordered seven pints of ice cream from this company for them to bring up to me. So they’re going to go on their way up to dinner tonight. We’re going to eat outside. They’re going to bring me my ice cream.

Folwell: That’s amazing. 

Mann: By sweet probably be like, my investment in my sweet tooth is probably the most ridiculous thing.

Folwell: That’s wild. That’s a lot of ice cream.

Mann: I also workout a lot. Before this call, I was like, “David this half of my room as an office. And that half of my room is a gym.” And I showed them all the weights and stuff. So I work pretty hard to not be like cardiovascularly and physically out of shape.

Folwell: That’s great. That’s great. All right. So anything else that you would like to add? Any closing comments for the listeners?

Mann: No. I think we literally just downloaded my brain for the last six months. So let it reload. 

Folwell: I appreciate all of the insights, all of the feedback. And I love having you on the show. Thanks so much, Rob.

Mann: Thank you. Thanks everybody.

Folwell: Bye.

Mann: Bye.