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Building Trust and Credibility Through Data-Based Feedback with Basil Murray, VP of Enterprise Commercial Sales at DHI
In this episode of the Revenue Insights Podcast, host Lee Bierton sits down with Basil Murray, VP of Enterprise Commercial Sales at DHI, a SaaS platform with AI-enabled products for talent acquisition. The conversation covers several touchpoints in the sales and revenue space, including adapting selling and revenue operations to the current environment and coaching teams to provide value to prospects and clients while building trust and reputation. Basil also touches on de-risking client churn and the importance of data in decision-making, demonstrating the ROI of products, and evaluating internal teams. Do the quotes below intrigue you? Make sure you listen to the full podcast.
- “If a prospect or a client gives you 15 minutes of their time, you have 14 minutes and 30 seconds to deliver value while building trust and reputation”.
- “It’s important for my salespersons to build relations with prospects, clients, and people in the industry to build their personal brand.”.
- “Feedback based on data helps build trust and credibility in teams”.
Basil Murray is the VP of Enterprise Commercial Sales at DHI. He is a SaaS leader with a strong record in business development, sales management, and strategic planning. He has a proven track record of driving profitable growth. He is a market-driven, hands-on manager who can develop, motivate and lead teams to deliver outstanding results in highly competitive environments.
- Basil Murray on LinkedIn
- Basil Murray on Twitter
- DHI Website
- Basil’s Book Recommendation, You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar by David Sandler
- 00:39 – 02:46 – Basil’s back story and role at DHI
- 03:18 – 07:35 – Lessons from the post-COVID dynamic environment
- 08:32 – 13:25 – Three revenue team pivots in a cost-conscious environment
- 13:51 – 17:35 – Coaching teams to provide value and build trust and reputation
- 20:30 – 25:33 – Derisking customer churn while driving upselling
- 26:54 – 29:55 – Using data to empower and objectively evaluate teams
- 30:48 – 35:00 – Using data to demonstrate the ROI of products to prospects and clients
- 35:35 – 37:35 – Basil’s book recommendation, You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike in a Seminar
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Hello there. You are listening to Revenue Insights. Today my guest is Basil Murray. He’s regional vice president of sales at DHI Group. He’s led sales teams across a number of different SaaS businesses all over the US in recent years.
Basil, a pleasure to speak today. Welcome.
Thank you, Lee. It’s great to be here. So I’d love to learn a little bit more about your journey to where you are now when we’ve kind of been touching base beforehand. And we’ve touched a little bit about how your role has changed in recent years. But I’d love to get a bit of a sense of the bigger picture of how you’ve got to where you are today. Sure.
I celebrated my three-year anniversary with DHI in January, no, December 30th.
And it’s been obviously an interesting three years, right?
Going through a pandemic. Some would say we’re in the middle of a recession. But it’s been a great experience these last three years being with this organization, seeing us grow.
I mean, if you look at the stock price before I joined and since I’ve joined, I think we’ve been doing some great work here. And it’s just a great space to be in matching employers with their target employees. Been in the HR tech space for 13, 14 years. Prior to that, I was with another job board. And then I also spent time in telecommunications as well as a brief stint on Wall Street. Nice.
And that brings you to where you are now.
So can you just elaborate a little bit more on your role, I guess what you’re responsible for and what your team looks like?
Yeah. So I stepped into a new role January 1st and my team is in charge of account management around our largest clients. So we’re in charge of retaining and growing those clients. So all the account executives report up to me, manage our largest staffing and recruiting clients.
In our space, you have the commercial side of the business, which is companies that are just buying our products to help with their own hiring versus the staffing and recruiting groups that my team is in charge of. And they’re the largest staffing firms in the world that are buying these products, obviously, as part of their core business.
And so one of the things I want to touch on is kind of as you mentioned at the beginning, that particularly over the last three years, you’ve gone from during the business was about during the pandemic, and then we’ve kind of had the boom time since then as the world reopens again. And now we’re going through certainly a fairly challenging period at the moment.
How have things changed at DHI Group and specifically was in your department during that time?
That’s a loaded question.
Because there’s been a lot of change just in the world, right?
And so as a company, how do you adopt to that?
I’m so proud of the way our company has adopted to it, because there’s so many different avenues we could go down in this conversation around that.
You know, when I think about that, initially, I think about our company culture and how we’ve, it’s really tested the best companies, how they react, you know, how do they how do they deal with these uncertainties?
And I’m so like I said, I’m just so proud of working for an organization that I think navigated it so well. I if you do the math, from my introduction, you can realize I started December 30 of 2019. And I built a brand new team in New York City. And we were just getting to know each other. And then March of 2020 rolled around. And we didn’t do any layoffs during the pandemic.
And honestly, we lowered quotas a little bit.
And we, we, we made it through a really, really tough time. And we were so much stronger as a team, I believe because, you know, we all believe in the company purpose.
It’s a great purpose, right?
I mean, it’s we’re not making cigarettes, not to not say anything disparaging about other industries, but we do a pretty great thing. We’re matching employers with their target employees. And that feels pretty great. But on top of that, that’s how the company reacted, I think, and treated us all so well. Brought us together even more as a team, you know, so our purpose was stronger and our belief in our company.
And then, you know, you got the roller coaster of 2021, where there was just funny money rolling around from organizations.
And, and so, you know, we went from having extremely difficult selling conditions in 2020 to by probably about May of 2021, you know, it was like a rocket ship going off. Companies were just growing.
Like, in some cases, I’d never seen before. In other cases, it sort of seemed familiar, like maybe like dot com time period. And then last year, the hurt started probably in April, May, we started to feel dramatic pullbacks on our new business side.
And so, you know, getting back to your question, how do we react to that?
I mean, there’s an ebb and a flow there.
There’s certain things that change but I think, you know, I think the most important thing is, is you try not to change too much, right?
You don’t want to go from, you know, running a sales methodology one way through that those conditions to one a different way in these conditions because a lot of times that that makes things messy.
It’s like, okay, so we’re gonna we’re gonna discount now more, you know, discounting is good because it gets business done. But I don’t think you want to change your core too much. Right. And so you still want to have the same expectations and accountability and inspecting what you expect as a leader through, you know, the gold rushes of like a 2021 and the challenges of a 2022 and even into 2023.
So, I don’t think too much changes on the sales methodology and how you run the team. I guess getting back to how I started to answer this question.
To me, what came to mind is the company culture. And I believe that we’ve navigated that really well and lots of organizations have and some haven’t. And I think that’s been pretty evident. And that obviously brings you to where you are now. So what I feel like the one bit that I want to dig into then is it’s not so much a case of change, but more a case of adapting.
And so what have been perhaps three of the biggest, shall we say adaptations that you’ve made to kind of pivot your teams from that, you know, the funny money period into where we are now, where, you know, it’s, you know, everyone’s scraping pennies together and trying to find stuff down the back of the sofa.
How have you adapted?
So like three changes. It’s interesting. Like when you say that, I think of like, I don’t know that there are things that I instituted or started talking about that were necessarily changes. But what I do have the experience of is being through probably three different recessionary periods just to show my age. And so I’ve seen this, you know, it’s a little bit predictable.
And what’s interesting is, is some of the people who have reported into me in the last three years, they haven’t been through, you know, they’re early enough in their career. And so it’s helping them to navigate this.
So what are some of those things?
You said three things. Yeah.
Gosh, we still want to continue to have conversations. We want to build relationships. And those relationships ideally are around, you know, having someone trust us with an investment in our product portfolio. But even in the absence of that, you know, because we can’t control timing, we need to still build relationships.
And so, you know, I think it’s so important for all of my salespeople to tell them, have conversations with potential buyers, have conversations with just people in the industry, network, build your own brand, too.
You know, I’ve been talking about our company’s brand, which I think is great. But we all have to have our own individual brands. That influences a lot a buyer. So it’s not just the company they’re buying from. It is the brand of the individual.
And listen, these difficult times can create a little bit more time on our schedule, you know, whether we like it or not, to do more of this, you know, when you’re busy, you know, taking orders and closing business constantly. It’s a little bit harder to find time to network and to maybe do some of this other stuff.
I think the other thing, too, is maybe if we’re moving on to number two, don’t project onto clients your assumptions.
You know, I think especially in these times, we can assume that maybe they don’t have the money to spend or they wouldn’t want to spend as much as they did last year. I think that’s such a mistake. And I see it done by salespeople too often.
Let’s be great investigators and asking great quality questions as opposed to trying to lead them, lead them with answer or lead them with leading questions, I guess is a better way to put it.
And, you know, if you look at some of the greatest companies ever created, they were created and they exploded. If we look back on it in a recessionary period, and it’s because they got bold and they got aggressive. And because they invested, when everyone else wasn’t.
So again, going back to don’t project on a client our insecurities about what’s going on in the markets.
What’s a third thing?
I think the third thing is maybe just what I touched on a little bit too, which is we have to encourage our buyers to be bold and courageous. That’s not easy to do. Sometimes that can be outside our comfort zone. Because that means not taking no the first couple of times. And if you come out of a roaring 2021, you probably weren’t hearing no too often.
But you have to tell them the stories that I just shared with you, the companies that were created during those recessionary periods.
And are they going to be one of those companies that seizes the opportunities that others are afraid to?
I want to pick up on the first point that you made there.
When you’re coaching your reps, what would you say, or rather, how are you coaching your reps to build better relationships during a recession?
It’s not easy to ask people for time.
Because that’s what I’m suggesting, right?
In fact, I had a call with a guy yesterday. And he kept asking me to get on the phone with him. He perceived me as a buyer. And I finally accepted it because he asked me for 15 minutes. This is after like three or four weeks of him soliciting me. And I was like, you know, I want to see what he does with 15 minutes.
Because I think 15 minutes is a timeframe that we all can spare that, right?
It just seems more spareable than 30. That’s what I’m encouraging my folks to do is offer something up. I love data.
You know, in the HR tech space and what we’re focused on here at DHI and at Dice and Clearance jobs, those are the two job boards that we run.
You know, especially right now, especially right now with what’s going on in the economy, because like you’ve got all these weird fundamental differences going on. Like the consumer price index hasn’t suffered at all.
And yet we hear about all these layoffs, right?
And yet unemployment, it doesn’t appear to be suffering from all these layoffs as much as you would think it would. And so there’s a lot of confusion. And if you can bring data to the conversation and you can show them like supply versus demand information as it relates to the job types that they’re most concerned about or show them trends that are going on.
We were just looking at trends the other day. And there’s actually a nice little trend going on right now where there’s more commercial businesses adding on jobs in the last three months, believe it or not. Wasn’t the case at the end of last year. They were posting less jobs.
And if you can bring that to a conversation and throw out that to a potential buyer, even if they’re not a potential buyer right now, but they’re maybe a potential buyer in a few months, you’re arming them with something that you’re not asking them to buy anything, but you’re bringing something to the table of value around this overall topic that we’re in space that we’re focused on, right.
Which is helping them find their target talent. Because we know that they’re going to need to add on target talent sometime this year. So let us be a trusted partner now by bringing you valuable information.
Again, it’s not easy to get the time. And I think the way you become a trusted advisor and you ate the way you have a great reputation and the way people want to introduce you to other colleagues of theirs, you know, is you always come to the table with something valuable. You always honor the time commitment. So if it’s going to be 15 minutes, it should be 14 minutes and 30 seconds.
And I think these leaders out there, they want to have this type of information. They want to have these types of conversations. They’re just picky about who they want to have them with. So make yourself available and attractive enough that they want to include you in that, you know, that small group of people.
Yeah, I really, I really like that point around really what is, I guess, using data as part of a value cell, right.
So, you know, actually around giving them something more than just, you know, this is what this swabs, you know, these are our features, right. So switching from that feature selling to very much a value selling kind of mindset. And also a really interesting point around the usage of data as part of that as well.
I’m all right in guessing that that’s kind of first party data that you guys have access to that you’re then able to use to push that sales process along. We have some of our own internal data. We also use some external data. We have a partner that pulls in Bureau of Labor, BLS data.
Yeah, it’s pretty expansive. It’s something I lean on heavily. I think it just brings such credibility, right. And I just think it’s so important to in building a relationship to start there too.
So what I want to, for us to dig into a little bit more was something that you actually mentioned at the beginning around how your role has changed and very much in terms of looking after the top accounts that you guys have. So both from a renewal and a upselling perspective.
So could you speak a bit more around, I guess, and it may be along the similar lines what we’ve talked about of what is your approach to particularly given the current climate to ensure that you’re setting your team up for the best chance of success of being able to renew those accounts and also finding opportunities within them.
Can you be more specific?
So what is your approach to, I guess, maintain the relationship and ensuring that you have a strong relationship with those accounts that you’ve already got?
And probably a better way to put it is how are you insure or de-risking the chance of churn amongst those accounts?
So the people who report in to me are the sales folks in charge of these accounts. And then we also have my boss also oversees success, what we call account success, customer success. And you have a customer success person who’s in charge of those accounts as well. And then you have leaders over those groups as well. So there’s a decent sized team that’s just assigned to those accounts.
And there’s a pretty good ratio too, like a low ratio, which is nice as far as how many of these success people and account management people and leaders oversee our largest accounts. So there’s plenty of availability of time to really focus on them. So ideally, I think most of our clients were having at minimum quarterly business reviews. In some cases, we have monthly business reviews.
We sort of leave that up to the client’s preference there. And many of these clients, I mean, there’s daily weekly interactions. Sharing of data is really important in our industry. There are certain data points that we need to provide to them as far as how much visibility are they getting with their job solicitations, their employment brand.
How many eyeballs are they getting?
Are those eyeballs converting into someone being interested in that job opportunity?
And then we need data back from the client to help really understand the overall ROI of our solution.
Where did that candidate go when they left us?
Did they make it into a first interview, a second interview?
An offer, a job, hopefully. So if we can get both of our data points together on a regular basis, can’t just do this once a year or even twice a year. You need to do this minimum four times a year and hopefully maybe more often than that.
And if you can have that type of relationship with your clients where you’re doing the data sharing and you’re checking in on a regular basis, we’re monitoring their usage.
And if the usage is down, we’re reaching out to them and asking them, what can we do to help support you more?
Because right now there’s, we’ve had clients who have less recruiters than they did just a year ago. That’s inevitable going through what I think is a recession at the moment. And like I said, there’s a good trend going on right now.
So if they’ve let go of a few recruiters, how can we help support them as they maybe look to rehire those recruiters?
And maybe we can use some of our AI features, some level of automation to help them to still get a lot of the value out of our product in the absence of them having as many frontline recruiters working for them at the moment. And so it’s just making sure you have constant communication. Constant doesn’t have to be every day, but it has to have a decent cadence to it and frequency.
And I think most clients, especially the ones that my folks are dealing with, they’re the largest billers. They’re investing a lot of money with us. And so they want to have those conversations. But there are some clients who, they’re a little bit more hands off and that’s harder. And I think when you initially create the relationship, it’s so important that there be general understanding.
That book that you and I were talking about before, maybe we’ll talk about it here before this is over, the Sandler approach. Make sure there’s upfront contracts when you first start the relationship. You’ve got a lot of things that the client’s asking for you when you first start the relationship and you need to make sure that you’re asking of them some things that are going to be very important throughout that relationship.
I would like to have quarterly business reviews. I would like to have data sharing and in return, I’m happy to do all those things that you asked for as well. And if you do that nine times out of 10, they will honor it. If you don’t, you’re leaving it to chance and they may or may not.
I want to touch on, you kind of mentioned it before, but as an advocate of using data in the process that you have and I really like the usage of QBRs to be having that regular cadence of checking into, I think you made a great point about demonstrating the ROI.
So in terms of your team internally, how are you using data to support them?
And that may come across as almost like a bit of a leading question in a way, but I’m curious to understand whether you guys are using data internally to inform what you’re doing or is other decisions made by your team very much from a position of experience and process behind the scenes.
When you say internally, do you mean within sales leadership, how we make personnel decisions or?
Within your sales teams or your AEs or within your customer success teams?
How we use data.
Gosh, I think everything revolves around data.
To me, it’s critical, it’s a must. Every conversation should center around it because I mean, your team needs to believe in what’s going on in the inner workings of what we’re doing here. It can’t all just be rah rah, I guess. And we’ve got great data points to show what we’re doing and it’s working and honestly where it’s not working too.
We use data to identify early on, okay, is there something that needs to be addressed here?
We’re seeing a little bit of a trend, right?
Like most companies were invested in lots of different data products, Tableau, Salesforce, a few others, actually, probably quite a few others that sales team isn’t even aware of that are on the involved with the product team. But yet in today’s world and here at DHI, I can get a report on just about any item that you want to dissect and look at. And hopefully I’m answering your question.
I just think that data is so important in having credibility and trust for your team to know how they’re being measured, right?
Which I think is sort of maybe what you were getting at.
Yes, it’s important what’s their attitude like and what do they bring to the team as far as emotional intelligence and creativity, right?
And drive. But there’s also got to be real measurable data points. A lot of that’s easy on the sales side.
It’s like, all right, how much revenue have you brought in?
How much did you grow it?
On the customer success side, how many QBRs have you delivered?
What’s our retention rate look like?
They have skin in the game on that. But I think the more you can measure all of our activities and all these different data points that we have available to us in this day and age, I think the more employees know what success looks like. I was going to say, definitely going down the route that I was kind of getting at.
And I’m curious to know then and probably the big one for a lot of people right now, because I think it’s certainly becoming more prevalent in sales processes that I’ve seen is that ROI point is more important than ever for businesses in terms of having that not only the reassurance that when they’re buying new technology that they’re going to see a return on it, but also a lot of sales leaders are reviewing their existing tech stacks at the minute and going, is this actually effective for me?
Am I actually seeing the return on that?
So would you be able to kind of elaborate on perhaps some of the data points that you guys use to demonstrate the ROI of your offering?
Sure. Yeah. I think there’s some fundamental data points that are measured when you’re hiring a company like us.
Certainly, how many hires did I get is the most obvious one. You come to a company like us, we’re the premier IT and tech platform for matching employers with employees. So I think at the end of the day, if you talk to any of our clients, they would probably be able to rattle off, okay, here’s how many hires we got from Dice or from Clearance jobs.
But I think there’s other, I know there’s other data points that are important too, right?
We don’t control like that much of the hiring process at all.
In fact, it could be argued that we’re not really too focused, at least in the advertising side of our business on the hiring.
Our job is to get the eyeballs and get the eyeballs in front of the right people, right?
And so that’s sort of the media and advertising side of our company.
Once we get the interest there and we introduce this job opportunity and the employment brand of that organization to that target talent, a lot of the rest of the path of that candidate goes down is within the ecosystem of that employer, right?
So then it’s like, okay, how much do you want to measure those candidates and where they make it through that process and attribute that success back to us?
There are different levels of services that we offer. So we actually do have companies who outsource a lot more of their hiring process to us where we’re doing a whole media strategy for them. We’re also, and that would include advertising, media, on platform, off platform. We also do a lot of heavy sourcing, which you have to do when you’re hiring technologists, just because there’s a math problem there.
There’s way more demand than there is supply. So advertising is generally not going to get the job done. So you’ve got to have heavy sourcers. They’ve got to be really skilled tech sourcers, which is also a hard candidate profile to come upon to hire. Our team has highly tenured sources who do that.
And so when companies are using that part of our product where we’re more heavily invested in their hiring process, you can measure us a lot farther. It’s a lot easier to have a conversation around how many hires did you get from Dice because, okay, we carried those candidates a lot farther along in the candidate process and we kind of dropped the most screened qualified candidates at your doorstep.
So it makes a lot more sense to measure it farther. Some companies just want brand awareness. So they’ve used us for hiring events. They’ve used us through our advertising avenues on our platform. They’ve been a part of articles that we’ve written on our insights section of our website, which is a highly trafficked site where technologists go to be informed about what’s going on in the industry.
And so it’s really about, okay, how much of our target talent amongst our technologists are you reaching?
The same idea around like advertising on television.
What’s the audience?
Obviously it’s a very specific audience, but how much of the audience have you reached with all the different solutions that we’ve done with you?
And so final, final question. And you kind of alluded to it earlier.
So I would love to know what is one book that you would recommend as a sales and revenue leaders?
Yeah. So one book that it’s been around a long time. I had it a second ago. It’s the Sandler Method. We’ll put a link in the notes below. It was right here. You can’t teach a kid to ride a bike at a seminar by David Sandler. A lot of people have heard of the Sandler Method. The book’s been around a long time.
I think it’s a great book and it’s a great foundation for sales methodology. A lot of it has to do with spending the majority of your time qualifying buyers and prospects to make sure that we’re not wasting time with buyers and prospects who might not be ready.
That’s not easy, by the way, to do in a market like today’s market, right?
Because we want to have conversations and sales are few and far between on the new business side of most organizations. And so it can be easy to be a little bit desperate in and maybe giving up some of the sales rules that we lived by in 2021. But it’s so critical that we qualify buyers and prospects early on. You heard this term before.
And we have upfront contracts that we establish with these buyers. So that’s a two-way road. And there’s accountability and there’s expectations on the seller’s side as well as on the buyer’s side. And that’s really what the Sandler approach is about. I highly recommend it. I think there’s any one book, whether you’re starting out in sales or you just want a refresher. It’s a great read. It’s maybe 150 pages.
It’s not long at all. Nice. Excellent recommendation.
So Basil, thank you so much for your time and for sharing some of your expertise and ideas. Really appreciate it.
For anyone listening who may have any questions or wants to connect with you, where can they find you?
On LinkedIn, I don’t think there’s a lot of Basil’s, so you could probably find me. Basil Murray. I think it surprised you. I think it’s more of a British name, to be honest. It very much is. All the Americans butcher it too. They call me like I’m a spice. That’s why I love talking to the Brits. I love it. I’ll put a link to that down into the show notes as well.
As I say, thank you again, Basil. Really appreciate it. And to everyone that’s listened to the episode this week, thank you very much. We’ll catch you next week.
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