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EP 50: Brandon Metcalf, CEO & 4x Founder

Podcast Transcript

James Mackey  0:00  

Hello, and welcome to Talent Acquisition Trends & Strategy, I'm your host, James Mackey. Today we are joined by Brandon Metcalf. Brandon, welcome to the show. 


Brandon Metcalf  0:08  

Hey James, thanks for having me on. 


James Mackey  0:10  

Yes, I'm really excited about this. I've had a great time talking with you at a couple of events we've met at and I am very, very familiar with Talent Rover. I think I told you at one of the events, my company was actually considering Talent Rover. We were ready, we finally decided - Okay, we're gonna do that and at the time, you guys had moved up to a new tier where you were targeting customers that I think had 30 or 50 seat minimum. So we ended up not making that cut at the time, but I really respected what you had built and heard of it. I'm really pumped about this conversation and learning more about everything you've done. Before we jump into it, I was hoping you could just provide a bit of an introduction about yourself. Really the point is just to make sure that our listener base has a good understanding of your perspective and where you're coming from with the topics we discussed. 


Brandon Metcalf  1:03  

Yeah, thanks for having me on. I was also excited to be on and chat with you, our conversation so far outside of this has been great so I'm assuming this is gonna be a fun chat. So my background, I started out of school at Bank of America and was building or running banks for the first several years of my career. Then I got a bit bored with that and stumbled into staffing and recruiting. Took a job with Kelly Services, and held various different leadership roles with Kelly across the country. Eventually got recruited out of that, to want to go to Google, I turned Google down, which was kind of crazy at the time but I was glad I did. 


Then I joined a company called CV Partners, which was an executive retained search firm in San Francisco, really focused on C-level or VP-level finance searches during one of the booms. I did that for a while and then just got really frustrated with the technology that was available and said - There's got to be a better way to do recruiting and the better way to manage staffing firms from a technology standpoint, and that was in 2009 which is when I got the idea for Talent Rover. So we built Talent Rover originally for us internally. But then in 2011, we commercialized it, went to market, scaled it globally, and ended up selling it to Bullhorn in March of 2018. When I left I had an idea to create a new company, which is called Place, a software company for software companies. 


Basically, we manage subscription management bookings, billings, and revenue forecasting, all of that for SaaS companies. And at the same time, I started a consulting firm because I was just getting a lot of people hitting me up about how you do recruiting on Salesforce. And just how do you do sales? How do you manage Salesforce in general? So I created a company called Blueprints, which is still one of our companies now, and then, through that experience over the past really year and a half, we started engaging directly with Salesforce about recruiting and about staffing on Salesforce and started to come up with what eventually became ASYMBL which is my newest company, newest product. It's an applicant tracking system built on Salesforce, that's designed for both corporate recruiters, but also staffing and recruitment firms. 


James Mackey  3:21  

Got it, and I want to spend the majority of today focused on ASYMBL. I think that there are a lot of unique aspects in terms of insights and value propositions that we can provide to talent acquisition leaders tuning in on the advantages of working with an applicant tracking system that's built into Salesforce. I'm most curious to learn about more so the workflows, data and reporting, and insights that can be driven through the functionality in Salesforce to better inform talent strategy, and annual planning budgets. 


These types of things are for talent acquisition leaders that are scaling and thinking about how to structure and build out their internal team, how to engage with agency recruiters, and how to look at their funnel to optimize toward the most efficient and scalable placement sources and understand more so about what's working and what's not. Could you share a little bit more about exactly the gaps that you've identified in talent acquisition and that you see a simple solution for talent acquisition leaders? 


Brandon Metcalf  4:33  

As much as I've used technology to help them in these spaces, I've also built several companies myself, so I know what it's like to try to find talent and keep talent, manage talent, not just in the United States but talent all over, we had 9 offices in 8 countries and literally people everywhere. Currently, with ASYMBL in one place, we have employees in both the United States and also in India. So this topic, talent acquisition in general is a near and dear topic to my heart. When we decided to build Talent Rover way back in 2009, we had an idea of what to create one platform that everything was from - how do you source candidates? How do you match candidates? How do you place candidates? And then the staffing world - How do you bill for those candidates? How do you pay those candidates and all of those types of things. And I think there were a lot of players that really wanted to be one solution that does everything. 


Over the years, especially with stepping out of the recruitment space with the work that we've been doing with Place over the past four years, we started to look at things a little bit differently. And we started to think about - Do companies really want one solution that's supposed to do everything? There are benefits to that okay, if I can do everything in one platform or one software, then I shouldn't need to go into multiple systems and do all of that, which was one of the things I hated when I was at Kelly, we had so many different disconnected systems, one of them even had a green screen. And that wasn't too terribly long ago, but it was well, that just you wasted so much time just to do the core functionality of your job that it was maddening. 


So what we've really thought about over the past couple of years, and especially over this past year, was if you look at a lot of the other technology that's available, like on the sales side of the equation, for example, Salesforce, great CRM, there's a lot of different products that are built into Salesforce to enhance the process. Companies like Salesloft or Outreach, or you name it, there are tons of great sales, and engagement platform tools, all built to natively work inside of Salesforce. When we looked at, okay, what's really happened in recruiting, there's tons of recruitment technology out there. But one of the things that we saw was like, the number one thing in my mind for recruiting is engagement - Are you talking to candidates? Are you talking to hiring managers, be it, internal hiring managers, or external hiring managers, if you're in a staffing firm, and really engaging in keeping the conversation going, and on the candidate side, making it a true, meaningful, simple, productive way to stay in contact with all of these potential candidates? 


I think, on the sales side of the house, there's a lot of technology that allows you to engage really well with prospects and we wanted to take some of that and say - Look, why can't data be applied to recruitment? And specifically, why can't we have recruiters with the ability to manage and control their recruitment processes themselves? So if you look at Legacy ATS, both corporate and external, when you buy an ATS, the ATS tells you what your stages are, it tells you, I'm just gonna make this up - First stage is applicant, so associating a candidate to a job? The second stage is some type of interview, how are we going to go through the interview process making an offer and placing the candidate? And those are the basic stages on the same similar stages in staffing, right? 


Well, in reality, though, how many times are you working on a search that there are other things you need to do in that search, maybe there's a screening, you have to do at one step that's different from another, maybe you need a logo. Another type of person interviewing or interview cycle is different. There are different flows and different steps. And we saw this in staffing too, with Talent Rover where customers were wanting more flexibility with what the stages were. And what ended up happening is you end up working outside of the ATS, you end up doing all that stuff in spreadsheets, or some type of organizational system that allows you to manage it. But as soon as you start working out of the system, not only you creating inefficiencies for yourself, but now you're starting to impact the company. Now you're starting to impact how I get data and report and measure how successful we are with our recruiting activities. And you start to get gaps because that data is not consistent and that that data is not contained in a place that can be reported off of? So we said what, if we do two things, one, we give recruiters the ability to define their stages inside the solution. 


Through clicks, you can set up whatever your stages are, maybe it's an application, and then you have a screening, and then you do an interview. And then you have another screening, whatever it is, but you can set this up and you can set this up for a job req. Or if you're in staffing per client, it doesn't really matter. It's completely agnostic, where you get to pick your stages, but then you get to pick the actions that trigger off of those stages so that you're fully in control and you don't have to create workarounds outside of the ATS. The ATS is designed to give you the ability to create the workflows that you need to support your business. Then the other piece of that is what happens if we go out and we partner with leading solutions for specific areas. 


For example, we're not the right people to tell you how to do search and match and that whole algorithm of how you match candidates to clients and all of that, but we've gone out and found a partner that gets the vision of assembling these recruitment tech stacks, that they've now also built their product on the same platform that we're built on, which is Salesforce, and our two products work hand in hand with each other. So now you can do sourcing and parsing and matching and then this whole ATS piece, then we can also do it inside of Salesforce which has a very robust suite of features and products that allow you to engage with your candidates and even your clients. And that's what we set out to solve.


James Mackey  10:45  

I really see a ton of value in this. And I already can tell that it has the potential to be a very big company and solve I think, for particularly later growth-stage SaaS companies that are growing beyond a couple of 100 employees and are gonna start to need a little bit more of a robust tech stack, more integrations, more visibility into reporting, and to really understand how to create a scalable program. So I see a ton of value in that. And just a quick question, I do have some follow up questions. The first thing I want to ask you is related to the integrations and the partnerships - are these different partners that may be specialized in different areas? Are they included in a license cost or are these add-ons that your clients would add separately, in addition to your license cost?


Brandon Metcalf  11:40  

Yeah, so this was a big focus of ours is, Salesforce is the platform and the primary product that our customers are buying, and building talent over 100% on Salesforce back then we really reinvented Salesforce to become something else. And when we did that, we actually limited some of the Salesforce functionality, because we couldn't sell that as part of our product. So when we started looking at bringing an ATS back to Salesforce, and the way that we're thinking, we specifically said - No, we want clients to get the full power of Salesforce, so they buy a Salesforce license from Salesforce. And then we're an add-on license to that. So then the partners will be add-ons as well. 


Now, if you look at our price point and the philosophy around ASYMBL, you've got to really focus to make sure the overall purchase price that the customer is going to buy with Salesforce and all the other add-ons is reasonable still. So our seat price at ASYMBL is $25 per seat, which is extremely low for the industry if you look at it as being a full-blown ATS. But we're one business process inside of the entire talent engagement process. And we price the product that way to our partners. So yes, it's an additional add-on for the different components you want. But the overall price point is still going to be similar to what you're paying now for a fully-fledged built-out one solution, the difference is you're not paying for stuff you're not using. So like a lot of times when we sold talent over to staffing firms, they didn't want our timesheet system, well, they're still paying for it and the license price. 


This now gives you the ability to say I want this, I want this, I want this and this is my preferred vendor because there'll be multiple vendors that do the same type of thing. So you can pick and choose who you want and only pay for what you need. And also you can look at it as well, maybe not everyone in my organization needs this license, they only need this other license, so you can pick and choose who gets what as well to help you contain cost.


James Mackey  13:45  

Well, so yeah, so from my perspective and just so everyone understands my perspective, I run an embedded recruiting firm. So basically companies borrow recruiters from my company. And I've also run talent acquisition for SaaS companies. From my perspective, I think it's way more valuable to be able to pick and choose the add-ons, versus having this approach where you're kind of stuck with a specific vendor list. So I actually think this is much preferable because people have different philosophies and different focuses. And then also, different businesses have different needs based on the types of roles that they're hiring for. 


A company that's hiring engineers at scale is gonna be drastically different than a company that's hiring nurses at scale. It doesn't make sense to have the same tech stack for drastically different industries, so I think that that's really smart. The other follow-up question I had was just related to, or did you have another follow-up point on that?


Brandon Metcalf  14:44  

My business partner will be thrilled when I say this because this is an analogy that he just made up. He says: Think of it like the cable industry. You used to buy cable and you get all this stuff, but you never watched, and then now all of a sudden was streaming. You pick up all the different stuff that you actually want to watch, and you're paying for that. It's the exact same concept with the recruitment tech sector.


James Mackey  15:06  

That's a really great analogy. 


Brandon Metcalf  15:07

He'll be very proud! 


James Mackey  15:08

I’d bake that into your marketing material! Yeah, so that's really cool. I think the other thing that really resonated with me is having consistent stages, but allowing for custom interviews and workflows within those stages so that you can pull reporting. I did that when we implemented for ours primarily for companies under 100 employees, we've actually managed ATS implementations, and built them out correctly to provide the right reporting visibility, to prepare companies for extensive scale, like when companies are hitting Series C, and they're gonna go to Series B, and they're gonna go from 100 people to a 500 person organization. And they really have to start getting a little bit more thoughtful in terms of how they're thinking about their talent acquisition strategy. 


Basically, what we would provide is a four-step kind of Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3, and Stage 4, but then the hiring managers have the ability to customize interview workflows within those stages. So that we could pull reports that can show consistency across the board, but allow for nuances or just different interview workflows. So I think that's really cool. And then the other thing that we're doing right now is, we currently have Greenhouse as an agency resource, we have Greenhouse for our clients. What I mean by that is that we're tracking all of our clients’ hiring, and interview workflows and candidates through Greenhouse through some custom fields so that we can create several basically clients within one Greenhouse instance. 


And that's basically allowing us to pull data in aggregate across all of our client base to get insights about placement sources, and other very relevant things that are going to help companies hire. So I see I see a ton of value in being able to segment by stage and then do so in a way that's reportable. So that's just something I wanted to slow down on. Because that is, and a lot of the ATSs don't have that. Greenhouse has that functionality, I think Lever might, but most of them, a lot of them don't have that. As you said, you're kind of stuck, stages and interviews are bucketed together in one thing versus separate motions where you can figure out, and do it more effectively to report the right way.


Brandon Metcalf  17:43  

Yeah, and as the company grows, how often have you implemented software that all of a sudden you go - Oh, no, I need to do all this other stuff and this doesn't do this for me. And now I need to rip and replace and all that. So that's the other logic here as well, which is giving the flexibility as things get more complicated or maybe things get more high volume. One of the things we learned at Talent Rover was, we want to deal with True Blue, which is a multibillion-dollar staffing firm. But they were hiring more blue-collar type workers, where the traditional ATS stages that we had as far as associating a candidate to a job, submitting a candidate to the hiring manager with the resume, and then moving through the interview stages. That didn't work in their world, because they were hiring people for a one-day job or two-hour job, who didn't have resumes. 


So we had to rethink and try to figure out how we were going to solve that. And some of the conversations we're having with some multibillion-dollar firms right now around mass hirings. And how do they start thinking about when they come out, or when we come out of whatever economic climate we are in and everyone starts hiring like gangbusters again. They're already thinking about how we get the right tools in place to actually do that successfully and maximize on the market. So they're looking at ASYMBL saying, can you guys do high volume, internal corporate hiring? And the answer is yes. Can you also do more of the traditional slower one-off times? Or can you do C-level hiring? And then also, I need to hire a bunch of factory workers.


With the way we've thought about ASYMBL was like, Yeah, you can adjust your processes and do all that. What I liked about what you were saying about implementing different systems, is all of that comes with time and money associated with it. What we're trying to do with having a product that gives you that level of flexibility is to get rid of that time and money element to make it super fast because it's all built to do exactly that. So you're not having to spend a fortune on external fees to rip and replace or completely rethink or reconfigure your process.


James Mackey  20:04  

It's really cool. And one thing that I think could be an important differentiator to mention is not only having separate workflows that funnel up through stages but literally having separate buckets and pipelines. Yeah, within Salesforce, for instance, you can have, high-intent website conversion, then you can have, partnerships and those are separate buckets, buckets where you can put those pipelines in aggregate, but you can also separate them. So what made me think about this is that executive search is a completely different motion than recruiting for an individual contributor role. Yeah. So of course, you can look at those pipeline reports in aggregate, and look at conversion rates but those are drastically different search motions. So I think Salesforce probably allows you to segment those pipelines, so you can look at them individually, because there's no sense and from a reporting standpoint, bucketing SDR search, with executive search, and then taking the average of that, and then looking at the metrics that way. So that's one thing that you can't do with traditional applicant tracking systems. I don't think without actually if you had a data tool stacked on top, you might be able to do it. But that's a very big differentiator and value add, from my perspective, have you guys thought about that? Just curious.


Brandon Metcalf  21:32  

We actually, thought a lot about that. And, you know, even at my other company Place, we thought about that as well. So one of the things that kind of fell into place with all of this for us. You know, I've been in the Salesforce ecosystem since 2004. I've been building Salesforce-based businesses since 2009. And most of those businesses have been in the recruitment space. So we have years of experience learning how to try to build some of these things. But they build them from a product company standpoint, not from an internal customization standpoint, and there's a very big difference when you're building software to commercialize where you're building it internally, just from a foundational thought process and management style of how you build it. 


The other thing that fell into place for us was the 7 years of Talent Rober of seeing all of these different recruitment styles around the world. I mean, we were in 40 different countries. Adecco was our largest client. So we had the entire Adecco relationship minus just a few countries. So we got real exposure to how do you do recruiting in the US. How do you do recruiting in Europe? How do you do it in Asia? How do you do it in Australia, we heard over and over different feature requests and, and problems that these recruiters were having with being able to complete their job. 


I personally think agency recruiting and internal recruitment, as much as there are different stages and different end goals, recruiting is recruiting, you're still going through the same things of finding the right candidates for the right jobs and making those candidates successful, and all of that stuff. So learning through all of that. And while at the same time learning the full capabilities of Salesforce really makes us unique, and what we're doing. So when we look at building this stuff, we take data into deep consideration, but it's not just the data. It's the reporting of that data, and how do you get the analytics out to tell you really what's happening in whatever processes you are? 


So that's always the first lens that we look at is, how do I get information out? Because this is what everyone's going to want to know if they're successful or not. The second lens is how does someone actually use this thing? Like how do we maximize their efficiency? So when we're talking about giving you the ability to create different stages and actions? That's because we heard over and over from recruiters, I have to do this outside of your system. How do we give you the ability to do that in the system, because if you use the system, and we have the data structure to report off of all of a sudden we have magic and the Salesforce platform for us actually becomes perfect for that because we know it so well. But to your point, there's a whole analytical layer of Salesforce, if you know how to program in Salesforce to get the data to work in the constraints of Salesforce reporting,


James Mackey  24:25  

Right. I think a lot of companies and data acquisition leaders, from a reporting standpoint, are really only able to look at and track candidate pipelines. But they're not necessarily pulling insights. Yeah, like they're not they're not the reporting isn't set up with the right functionality to actually impact annual planning and how they're going to approach building teams. What tools and tech stack to implement, where you know how to optimize top-performing hiring sources, it's just not very robust. 


The other thing I just want to follow up on is, you brought up an interesting point when you're working with globally distributed teams, being able to segment out by region is going to be really important because obviously, we already discussed stages and in stages could also vary in I guess, support potentially based on region, but your hiring source could vary greatly. For instance, Jim might be more effective and lead, just different tools can be more effective in different regions, right? And you might see, I suppose, for reasons outbound sourcing having a larger attribution to hiring than inbound, or there could be different ratios in terms of percentage of hires, so being able to segment out those buckets as well on a regional basis is another interesting way to think about talent acquisition, because the larger you get, the more, I think, I feel like to some extent, the less effective and aggregate report, company-wide really helps you.


Brandon Metcalf  26:02  

I also think engagement, like sources, is extremely important, right? Especially so you can quantify ROI. And one important thing is like every time you hire someone, where did they come from? And what are you paying for that source? Is that source worth it, you can do all of that. If you track the source, and all of that through Salesforce, you have like an ASYMBL plugged into it, because we're tracking all of that stuff. 


The other piece that I think is critical, is, is candidate engagement. How are you communicating with people? You know, do they respond via text? Are you able to capture that text message? And how, what about email? What about a phone call? What about WhatsApp? You know, there's a variety of different ways, we're seeing Slack. And we're actually doing a lot of stuff in Slack, which I'll be excited to announce here in the next couple of months. But how do you really engage with people in this? You know, when we're thinking about solving this problem, this is yet another reason where we're like - Look, we want that Salesforce engagement layer. And we want to partner with all the Salesforce partners that extend that engagement layer to make it so stupid simple to be able to get a hold of someone and also to understand how was that person that candidate engaging with you. And you know, are they easy to get a hold of - Do they respond, we know where there were all of those different types of things Salesforce can do a brilliant job of. 


James Mackey  27:27  

I have a follow-up question on that. From a reporting standpoint, is there a way to track candidate engagement? And how do you measure that is there? Can you tell me just more about that, actionable? Like how would I wanted to do that for myself, or my clients? How do you even go about doing that on Salesforce in an effective way?


Brandon Metcalf  27:49  

Yeah, I mean, without getting too technical in the weeds, let's just keep it surface level, like during a sales process, which is what you typically think about Salesforce for. You have contacts that you're emailing, your phone call, and your what's happening, you're slacking, whatever you're doing. Well, if you look at recruitment through a sales lens, you're prospecting in a very similar way that an account executive at a tech firm would be. You're trying to go find the right candidates that have the right background for what you're looking for. For us, this is the same thing account executives are doing when they're looking for buyer persona and ICP of their target accounts. 


So then, how do you try to connect with them? Do you email? Do you call? Do you WhatsApp, whatever you do? But then how do you do a cadence to follow up, the first time you're gonna phone call, the second time we're going to email, third call you're going to or third time we're going to do a text message, whatever, how are you stacking those cadences to get you in front of the candidates that you're looking for to get them to respond to you and to talk to you especially coming out of and what we're still in with such a tight labor market. How do you stand out, it's the same thing in my mind that account executives are trying to do when they're trying to bring that account to buy their software, you're just selling something different. Salesforce natively has all of this built out, it’s just applying a different lens to how you're using it.


James Mackey  29:11  

Yeah, one of the things that I've been talking about for years is that people need to be thinking about their recruitment motions, similarly to how revenue organizations are thinking about revenue, motions, funnels, and optimization. And it's always surprised me, the level of focus and data that is put into revenue motions, but in talent acquisition, it seems that a lot is done based off feel. Yeah, it's hard, a lot of talent acquisition leaders, actually, I think struggle with quantifying or actually putting into motion process in tech, because it's just not something that a lot of times acquisition leaders aren't brought up in such a way to approach I think recruitment from a more technical, data-driven perspective.


I don't know about you, but I actually started my career in staffing as well. And so I came up in that environment intern, SDR, account executive, then I went to go work for a boutique agency. And there was really no emphasis on our internal systems on anything really tech-focused, we had an in-house kind of CRM, if you will, if you could even call it that, which was basically just data entry and tracking. But there was no optimization. And then you see people coming from those environments, and then being promoted into Director of Talent Acquisition, VP of Talent Acquisition for in-house roles, that really don't have any experience or knowledge and how to build out systems at scale. So I think that you can learn a lot from revenue orgs. And if you look at sales motions and marketing, inbound motions, there's so much to be learned. I think that it's a huge missed opportunity for a lot of talent acquisition leaders, and I think quite honestly, a lot of talent acquisition leaders would be would learn a lot from taking Pavilion CMO or CRO courses.


Brandon Metcalf  31:12  

For example, imagine this, you're doing a lot of recruiting to fill the position. The same thing, you're doing a lot of prospecting to try to find a client. One of the things we do on the sales side, with account executives and BDRs is we're constantly testing our messaging, what's working and what's not working, it's the same thing when you're going outbound to recruit, if you're pitching a job via email, what version of that pitch is getting the best responses yet, you can do that stuff with a full-fledged real CRM that's designed to do that exact same thing, Salesforce, you can leverage that to test messages and see what gets open, what gets clicked on what's gets replied to and in mass. So apply that same logic to going outbound with how you're pitching a job. What that tells you is not only what they're responding to via email, but when you're making phone calls and when you're connecting on LinkedIn or whatever, you can take that same messaging and apply that to your other channels that you're going out on with, because now you have some basis as to what's working. And it doesn't have to be the whole company doing it for you individually as a recruiter, can you do that and see the results.


James Mackey  32:28  

Sure, sure. And I think I think that's also a huge missed opportunity. For instance, across our client base, around 80% of hires come from outbound messaging on LinkedIn. I'm not saying, there are some great platforms and tools out there that I think are good to just add on to those efforts. But the reality is that, at least for startup and growth stage tech, the majority of hires that we're seeing are coming from custom outbound messaging, the majority of which, you know, I'm on LinkedIn. And so I just think that there's a huge missed opportunity because we might be looking at lead source to hire. But I don't think within that we're looking at okay, let's look at, let's look at okay, so for the hires that we've made, what, what was the customer messaging? What key points were brought up? How is it positioned? If we determine, Okay, like, you know, 70% of the hires that occurred from outbound messaging, started this way or included this type of information, then you can optimize not only toward that lead source, but how recruiters are actually engaging with candidates to then more effectively, like just to increase the number of hires that come from that lead source, which I don't know, I really don't think most companies are not doing this level of analysis. 


Brandon Metcalf  33:53  

Well, and I think it's a missed opportunity because I think the lead source is really important to tell you, we're buckets of candidates, and that you need to go get and communicate with. But you can have the best bucket of candidates in the world. If you don't know how to message, what you're recruiting, and why they should give a crap about the position, it doesn't matter, you're gonna have a hard time getting those candidates to still engage. You can maximize what you're saying to get them interested, then you can really understand - is that the right bucket of pool of candidates, is the source the right source?


James Mackey  34:29  

Right, I mean, messaging is in direct correlation to the scalability of to that lead source. Yeah, because if you have a bad conversion rate between messaging to hire or whatever metric you're looking at, that's not going to be scalable. And the more you're going to have to rely on agency recruitment to supplement those bad conversion rates versus if you can go in and look at what specific messaging and outreach is actually going to generate a quality candidate into my pipeline that's ultimately going to result in more hires. then becomes a much more scalable solution for you to manage in-house. So you look at the additional cost of creating this add-on tech stack, it's when you look at - okay, yeah, we might be paying more from a licensing perspective on a month-to-month basis. But think about what's your budget for contingent recruitment. 


If you have to do, I don't know, like 20 hires at a 25k fee at, let's just say, 20%, this is very conservative, you're looking at like 500 grand. And that's just for 20 hires, which is a pretty low volume. So you know, when you start to think about license costs, there also has to be kind of a cost comparison. And I think that's something that talent acquisition leaders need to be thinking about, too, when they're going to get budget approvals and doing annual planning, they need to be presenting license costs from the perspective of how that compares to agency usage, and potential, the way that things have been done traditionally, right for the company, and then need to be able to sell kind of the story we're talking about in terms of explaining how investing in the right tech stack can help us create more scalable, and how solutions and I help us also identify maybe the solutions or the lead sources that are not as scalable and maybe kind of cutting those, or if their attribution to hire is less, cutting those and honing in on the sources of hires that are not only more scalable, but accounting for like a larger percentage. I think that's a big gap. I don't think a lot of talent acquisition leaders are doing that when they're presenting to leadership teams or getting budget approvals. And so yeah, I think that that's another kind of skill gap or thing that a lot of leaders need to focus on as well.


Brandon Metcalf 36:47  

I also think it's like, look, I mean, we're in a tough economic climate right now, none of us are sure what 2023 is gonna be and I talked with a lot of SaaS CEOs and all that because in my podcasts that we get into that stuff. I think one of the things on the talent acquisition side, that's going to be important, especially in 2023, because regardless, of what it is, is definitely going to be a choppy, choppy year is do you have the tool that is making you more successful at the core focus of your job? And do you understand the data of where you're doing really well and the data of where you're not doing really well? 


And when you have to create a bunch of workarounds and have a lot of manual processes, you can't really get to the heart of that very easily. You definitely as a talent acquisition leader can't really get to what's making your team successful and not across the board if they're working around your systems and creating their own systems. So I think one of the themes for 2023, at least in my mindset, is how do you normalize some of that so you can invest where you need to invest? I think if you have a strong talent acquisition team, internally, most likely, you're going to want to save as much cost as you can, especially in this environment with using staffing firms. But how do you do that? And how do you know what you're spending money on is the right tools and the right technology to get you there?


James Mackey  38:08  

Well, yeah, and that's where it's, to some extent, hiring does come in cycles. And so I think one of the things that a lot of CFO, COO types, miss, they say, Okay, well, hiring comes in cycles. So investment comes in cycles, as well. And I think that if we kind of break those into two separate motions and understand that, why planning mid to long term for hiring strategy actually enables you to have a lower cost per hire, and a more sustainable budget. And so I think that that's where there's a pretty big disconnect, right? And I think that that's why when hiring surges occur, high-level hiring cycle. When the economy shifts from good to bad, the first thing to go is the contingent agency recruiters. 


The second thing to go is the in-house recruiters, then basically due to pent-up demand, there's at least going to be backfill hires, and they don't have internal staff. So they start to bring agency recruiters back, then they try to, the market rebounds that they try to hire internal recruiters when everybody else is, which makes them leverage agency recruiters even more and blow up their budget. And so, you know, it's, again, optimizing for tech stack is good because you can always have that in place. Even if you have to go through layoffs, or you know, cut vendors, you at least have that stack set, so that when the market starts to rebound, you at least have that in place to accelerate hiring and not, you know, rely on as many ones as many internal recruiters because you haven't a scalable solution, and to not being able to not need to rely on as many agency recruiters, right.


Brandon Metcalf  39:43  

Yeah, another lens of this speaking of Place, with Place we do workforce planning. And one of the important pieces of that, our clients, are building up financial forecasts, they're building out financial forecasts to understand the profitability of the business, so the P&L, but they're also getting a financial forecast to understand cash flow. So in the recruitment world, this directly impacts the forecast. So have you quantified the cost to the company, both from a profit and loss standpoint and a cash standpoint, if you have an open req for a salesperson, and you don't hire that salesperson on time, because typically financial forecasts are built off of that salesperson starting on a certain time, and their quota ramp starting at a certain time. 


So understanding if that AE is hired a month late, what happens that, or if your top AE gets recruited and goes somewhere else, what happens to the financial forecast? The recruitment element of the company is both important for ramping and downsizing during good times and bad but just the overall financial profitability of the company and the health of the company, like understanding how delays in the recruitment cycle flow through the whole company, is really critical. And it also gives talent acquisition leaders a different argument to have about how much budget they should have with being able to execute on recruitment. Because if you miss hiring a top salesperson, here's the impact you're going to have on your bottom line. And I think that changes the narrative between talent acquisition and finance as to or to C suite as to why it's so important to continue to invest in the right type of recruitment technology.


James Mackey  41:29  

I agreed. And Brandon, a follow-up question on that. But I do want to let you know that we're, we're up on coming up on the time that we have budgeted here. Can you go a little bit over? Do you need to jump?


Brandon Metcalf  41:37  

I can stay a little bit. 


James Mackey  41:39  

Okay, cool. So some follow-up questions with Place, who's in the buyer's seat there? Because I'm assuming you're right, I think that that'd be valuable insights for talent acquisition to share with finance leaders. But as somebody that isn't familiar with your company, your solution very well. Wouldn't the CFO or the finance leadership? Wouldn't they be a buyer for a tool like that?


Brandon Metcalf  42:01  

Yes. And no, I mean, depends on what part of the product we're looking at. The main thing for Place, is we only sell to SaaS companies, and it's usually early stage hag or high-growth SaaS because all of our workflows and all of our mindset are built around this whole concept of, who am I planning on hiring? And what's the impact if they don't get hired on time, and all that is designed for SaaS companies in the ramp of the SaaS companies? But our buyers range from yes, finance is a key buyer, but see co-head of sales, Head of Customer Success, Head of Marketing, all those people are typically engaged. Usually, we don't see the heads of talent acquisition engaged until we bring this conversation up, because companies aren't really thinking about that. But as soon as you start to bring up - hey, let us talk to whoever really manages your recruitment cycle, to understand how this workforce plan that you're going to go out and create is going to impact them. And what happens if they don't hit it, then all of a sudden, we're talking to the head of talent acquisition as well.


James Mackey  43:00  

Right? And I'm sure that they ultimately start to become a champion because they're like - oh, hell, yes. I need all the help I could get the budget that I really need to be successful.


Brandon Metcalf 43:09  

All of this ties together. But we get so caught up in silos of thinking like what we were talking about earlier in the conversation about candidates or recruiters going out and finding talent, well, let's compare that to account executives going out and finding clients. There are so many different parallels of workflows throughout the business, but all of these things are tied to each other. So understanding the work that a recruiter does of refilling or finding a candidate is directly going to impact your cash flow. People aren't thinking that way. And I think that's what can change.


James Mackey  43:42  

Yeah, I think. And one of the reasons I like that is it seems like companies are more likely to approve budgets when it comes to revenue motions. And so to the extent that you can tie recruitment budget to a revenue motion, the more likely that talent acquisition is actually going to be given an opportunity to thrive and do well. I mean, one of the things that I experienced at the time I was I was running talent acquisition for a 100-person SaaS company. And one of the challenges that I had was, it's I think in my first eight weeks, we increased the number of hires and velocity of the number of hires by 200%. Within the first eight weeks, and from there, it just seemed like every quarter over quarter, it was like - Okay, great. We achieved a result can you do it with 15% Less budget? So I just constantly was like…


Brandon Metcalf  44:40  

That's always the name of the game, right?


James Mackey  44:43  

That constantly happened. And so it's like, proving that story and showing that data is it's increasingly more difficult to do when you have a minimal tech stack or you don't have the right technology to help you prove that story. You end up trying as a ton of acquisition leaders to do most of this manually, and put it on spreadsheets, but then also there's skepticism, when, from a CFO perspective when you're just throwing stuff on a spreadsheet, versus having it tied into your ATS or another technology to ensure accuracy. So, being able to do it through tech brings a certain level of legitimacy to it from the perspective of it's not in the system, it doesn't exist, right? So it's when you're trying to prove a story as a talent acquisition leader, and you don't have the tech and you're doing it from a spreadsheet, it's still, it makes it harder to sell that data story, versus, if you have the right tech in a place where you can pull clean reports that are reporting from a system, is going to allow you to make a better case to get the budget you need. 


Brandon Metcalf  45:47  

Yeah and then also, where do you get all that extra time that it takes you to do all that stuff manually? 


James Mackey  45:53  

Yeah, I'm working around the clock, basically.


Brandon Metcalf  45:57  

I mean, that's why it's ASYMBL was so important to us of saying - look, there's so much stuff that's done outside the system, what if we just give you a way to do it in the system so that you can then leverage it in the most meaningful way?


James Mackey  46:08  

Yeah, for sure, for sure. And I want to segue, there was one other topic and you're running several companies, I don't know how the hell you do it. I just wanted to get your thoughts because you're building your own teams, right? You're ultimately building teams of top talent to scale your companies to create value? Are you thinking about talent acquisition, for your own companies? And what are the biggest, I think we could just do like a few high-level points. And maybe a couple of tactical points within that so people walk away with stuff they can implement. But maybe we could we can focus on just the top two, or one of the three things that you're doing right now.


Brandon Metcalf  46:50  

Yeah. And you're right. I mean, I have multiple companies going on. But it's really leveraging a great team, or great teams, and each of those different companies that make it manageable, that I can actually do all the different things that I have going on. For us, I think, we think this is every other company, I know, this was the same talent where we spent a fortune finding talent in one way or the other. But what do you actually do once that talent is with you? We talk a lot about doing exit interviews, in fact, figuring out why people left. But there are strategies that really been talked about over the past year, year and a half, that look a little differently, like retention strategies. Like do you actually have a plan for retaining your people? What happens if your top salesperson comes in, or your top recruiter comes in, whoever, and says, I quit, I got this crazy job offer? 


It's the conversation no manager ever wants to have, right? It's when someone comes to you and says, Hey, can I talk to you? You're like, they’re about to leaf. And now you're scrambling? Do you have a plan in place? Are you just going to react to say, Okay, how much money do we have to throw at you to keep you or whatever? Well, you actually understand all of your employees across the company. And if any of them resigned today, what you would do not all of those people should get a counter, not all of those people, you want to retain some of those people you absolutely have to retain them. But if they're already coming to you saying I got a different job, you're already in a losing position to like, flip the script and say, Okay, let me look at every single employee in the company, if that person leaves, who's going to replace them? 


Do I have that person in mind all ready to step in? And do that job, look at their jobs are performing at and say, Can we afford to lose this person or not? If you can't, what are you doing to keep them? And one tip there that works really well was doing stay interviews. So meeting with them on a fairly frequent basis, and asking questions, not about their performance, but asking them questions about what you like about being here. What can I do to make you more successful here? What do you not like about the company right now? What do you think needs to change, and just getting them to have the same conversation they would have with you in an exit interview. But doing it now when they're still employed, where you can actually impact their job and impact the relationship and ultimately retain those you want to retain or leverage that information, also, to figure out how you would help move someone out of the organization you don't want to retain.


James Mackey  49:26  

All right, and this is where you have to. I think sometimes companies get caught up on we're scaling, we need to do everything in a scalable way that's going to be the most time efficient. And so companies gravitate towards surveys versus actually hopefully, you've built up the unit economics of your business to where you can have a reasonable amount of direct report reports a reasonable ratio, sort of tried to say, between direct reports and a manager where there's actually enough time and bandwidth to have this type of relationship and conversations. Because I think to some extent when it comes to things like this, it's not you shouldn't be focused on like, what's the most time efficient solution, that scale because sometimes you lose something there. And you have to remember when you're working with humans, you need to actually take the time to dive in and understand their concerns and to learn from them. So I think it is just an important differentiator that just doing a survey isn't good enough. You need to get in there and have these conversations. How often are you having these like with your top people? Is this like a quarterly motion twice a year?


Brandon Metcalf  50:35  

Just depends, it depends on your company, depends on your role. I mean, like you were saying, your team should be able to do this. So I'm not typically the one having this with everyone in the company, right? There's just no bouncing, especially when I have three companies. But the leadership team underneath, do they get this? Do they understand why we're doing this? Do the leaders that report it to them get this and you just kind of cascaded down and make it an expectation of we're having these conversations? And make it not a secret. Why would we need I think a lot of companies are concerned about this stuff. Like, why would this need to be something people are aware of that we do? We're wanting you to tell us what you like and what you don't like, let's tell them that because we want to make it the best company, the best culture, so they never leave. And I think the cadence is, you just got to figure out your clip, and what's realistic, but definitely more frequent than once a quarter, I would think.


James Mackey  51:31  

For sure. I love it. And when you're a small company, it's a little easier as the CEO to influence that, right? I have a top performer, it's like, alright, like, alright, what are we doing? Like, are we can we promote? Can we give a raise, like, what can we do in the short term to ensure that this individual stays, but then when you start to get a larger level of scale, you really need to create that expectation amongst other leaders to ensure that it's actually happening, right? We can't just make that happen at some point. 


So well, Brandon, this has been incredible. I think this is just packed with value. Just you know, we recently started Season 2 of the show, I'm not sure if this is going to be the first episode, but it'll be one of the first and we're really leveling up the show, taking it to the next level. For everybody listening, we're going to really hone in and focus on how to help VPs of talent acquisition be successful, and create scalable talent acquisition solutions. And I think Brandon that this episode is going to give people a lot to think about. And there are a lot of actionable things here whether or not they're going to decide to move forward with a Salesforce solution or not, there's regardless if they even like just listening to you, regardless, if they decide to move forward with your company. 

There's just so much value. And I think that if they just implement a couple of one or two of the things that you talked about today, it's going to make their company a lot stronger. And I think I do personally recommend companies to carefully consider Salesforce as a solution for an ATS because again, I think to generate the best results, we need to start taking a more data-driven, technology-driven approach to talent acquisition, we need to stop operating on feel and start to get into the science of how to optimize different channels. And I think that Salesforce is by far the best solution to do so. 


So anyways, Brandon, thank you for joining us today! It's been a lot of fun, and I'm definitely hoping that you'll come back for another episode because this was just so much fun recording with you, man.


Brandon Metcalf  53:32  

Hey, man, thanks for having me on.  was glad to contribute and just let me know when. 


James Mackey  53:36  

Yeah, let's do it. Let's do it. And for everybody else tuning in, thank you for joining us and we'll talk to you soon!

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