Vantage Points: Local Search Talent Insider

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In this latest in BIA/Kelsey Vantage Points article, Hawthorne Search answers talent-related questions pertaining to digital and local search. For more than 15 years Robert Hawthorne and his team have been helping industry companies find key hires for all functional areas. In addition, Robert has spoken at many BIA/Kelsey events on changes and influences in this area.

The Vantage Point series taps the perspectives of various lookout points from around the local media and tech sectors. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect that of BIA/Kelsey. Please contact rducey@biakelsey.com if you have insights to share. 

Local Search Talent Insider

By Robert Hawthorne
President, Hawthorne Search

From my years of working with clients, I’m pleased to offer the following valuable list of FAQs for those hiring and those job hunting to use for their benefit.

Question: I am a “yellow pages” sales manager in a large market. My team sells digital and traditional offerings and due to acquisition, I am worried about my position. What does the job market look like for someone with my skill set?

Robert Hawthorne: There will always be a demand for sales leaders who know how to develop talent. Within the local search space the need for hands on sales management talent has decreased in recent years due to consolidation and few companies filling the vacuum with outside or premise sales forces, however. That being said, there are many technology and product companies across the country that continue to build or maintain premise sales forces and they love “yellow pages” managers. Examples that come to mind are companies like Paychex, Iron Mountain, ADP and dozens of others nationwide. Even if you can’t find a comparable job in local search, you should have plenty of options with companies like those mentioned above.

Question: What kinds of sales talent are most companies in local search and advertising/marketing technology hiring today? I am a local seller in Chicago and can’t seem to find anything that fits my skill set.

Robert Hawthorne: Many companies are moving towards hiring fewer sales people but paying more for sellers who have the ability to sell on a major account level. We know of countless companies who have basically eliminated their local SMB strategy and have instead focused on high level sellers who can sell to agencies, franchise groups, associations and of course national companies. For these companies, they find that there is more bang for their buck in hiring six figure base salary sellers who can drive large chunks of business instead of larger teams selling smaller pieces of business.

An exception is that many companies are building INSIDE sales teams across the country, hiring sales professionals at a lower cost than what local market outside sales reps are typically paid. Usually these companies are hiring individuals with little to no experience and training them on their products and services. Typically the turnover in these roles is quite high.

Question: I am looking to hire a director of product marketing but my company is located in a city that is not large and by most standards is not considered “cool.” What should I do to compete for this talent with those in cities like San Francisco, Austin, etc?

Robert Hawthorne: There are many things that today’s marketers are looking for and not all of them have to do with how hip your city is. Many product marketers feel like they are stuck in a “silo” often working on one initiative or one product and not having a chance to grow their skill set, ultimately limiting their development and growth. We hear day after day from product people the desire to take on more, to work cross functionally in greater capacities, etc as a common complaint. If your role allows the director to be involved with strategy, sit in on high level meetings and to have a real voice in terms of direction of product strategy, that could be something that separates your roll from the competition.

Additionally, there are many key drivers high level candidates of all kinds are looking for. If your company offers most of the following, I would make sure to emphasize it:

  1. Career growth. This is a key driver regardless of whether we are talking about Millennial or Gen X employees. If your company has a track to a higher level marketing or GM role, make sure to emphasize that during the interview process.
  2. Leading Edge Offerings: Many people want to work where the new big thing is shaping up. If your company offers technology that is meaningfully different from what is available in today’s market place, your job could be located anywhere and it will draw a wide pool of candidates.
  3. Flexibility: Many of today’s candidates want a few days of work from home as an option, flexible hours or ability to work in some other non-traditional format. If your company is “rigid” you will have a tough time competing
  4. Compensation/Benefits: Making top dollar is much further down the list than it used to be as many of today’s younger employees put less of a premium on cash compensation but it still is an influencer. Fully paid medical, pet insurance, gym memberships, etc all have cache with today’s leading employees. Heck, even free lunch on Fridays can sell. Whatever you do to invest in the health and mental well being of your employees should be emphasized.
  5. Leadership: If your company has respected senior leadership, that can be a great influencer as many of today’s employees, particularly millennials are looking for mentors and role models at work. Put your leadership front and center during the recruiting process if she is someone candidates will respond to.

Have another question? Send them to me at robert@hawthornesearch.com.

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