V2’s Recruiting Special Sauce: Dare to Invest Heavily Up Front

In 2009, I joined V2 after having established a successful recruiting career for a New York City based investment bank. Early in my tenure at V2, I quickly recognized an unanticipated challenge: finding top-notch talent who possessed agile project management skills, strong business acumen and Salesforce.com experience to join our technology-focused agency. Simply put, traditional means of recruiting were not providing sufficient results and we needed to find more innovative ways to attract and retain stellar talent. The days of scrolling down a list of names and cold-calling in the hopes that at least one person will not only take your call, but also be a qualified candidate who fits the criteria for an open requisition are gone. With the social media frenzy exploding recruiters, like myself, now have access to thousands of candidate profiles both active and passive. Sourcing now involves mining databases such as LinkedIn and building a candidate pipeline for current as well as future needs. Although the act of sourcing still takes time, I now have the ability to conduct more focused searches based on specific skills, years of experience and industry expertise through the process of social networking.

Over the past year, we made a decision to leverage our social networks and heavily invest a significant amount of time in the initial stages of our recruiting process to learn about our candidates and educate them about V2. By adjusting our strategy and tactics we have been able to successfully meet our aggressive hiring goals. As our dedicated recruiter, I continually search our connections and referrals, leveraging our social network and ultimately source best-fit candidates. Once sourced, those candidates must “pass” an extensive pre-screening interview conducted by myself to ensure they meet the minimum job requirements and believe in our core values. Provided the initial pre-screen is successful, candidates will then often meet our President for him to assess a fit and to allow candidates to ask a range of questions about company strategy, core values and the challenges we face in the industry. While this may sound time intensive for the President, he sees it as the most important part of his leadership role in the company. The final step in our interview process requires the candidate present a Salesforce.com demo to the executive team. The added value of this demo allows the candidate the opportunity to understand and gain exposure to what a role at the company entails on a daily basis, and enables us to better measure those skills and core values we are looking for such as general business acumen, knowledge, technical aptitude, presentation and project management skills.

While our collaborative interview process lends to the success of our recruiting strategy, it is just as imperative that I truly embrace and sell the corporate culture consistently from the initial point of contact through the offer stage. This holds especially true when speaking to passive candidates. I have found that by having a consistent message I am able to set myself apart from other internal recruiters and external headhunters. In this economic environment, it is my experience that many candidates are more concerned about stability and long-term growth verses compensation and job title. I am able to describe a clear plan for their role, and the opportunities where they can go within the organization. All of these conversations take place through the interview and offer stages, allowing candidates to feel extremely confident and excited about accepting a new opportunity with V2. As a result, we have been able to better assess fit up front, candidates have a much better idea of what it is like to become part of the V2 family and the onboarding process allows for increased productivity of new team members leading to extraordinary gains for the Company.

Let’s have a discussion, leave a comment below on ways you leverage social networks to recruit top talent.

Email: A Lonely Medium for Communication

Back in November 2011, Mark Zuckerberg announced: “Email is dead.” While to me, that sounds a little harsh, I certainly agree with the root of his sentiment as it pertains to internal email communication in the workplace. If the goal is for employees to communicate with each other in an efficient manner, email is clearly not the right medium. Consider how email works: After receiving a series of messages you click each one individually to read it. You then determine if it is the most up to date message in the thread. From there, you can either take action on the email or click out of it and forget it. The afterlife of an email is either in the trash or in your inbox for only your eyes to see. Herein lies the problem with email – it is cumbersome and overwhelming. For this reason, our company made the choice to ban all internal emails. About six months ago, we decided we would only use Salesforce.com Chatter for virtual internal communication, and we haven’t looked back. We have found that Chatter accommodates our proactive approach to communication and agile methodology more easily. It also enhances the flow of communication to move throughout the company in a more relevant and less arduous manner. This proactive communication in the office allows for enormous gains in three key areas of the business: productivity, transparency and collaboration.

  1. Productivity: Increasing individual, team and company-wide productivity is almost always the number one goal I hear when speaking with clients about their business process optimization. I often share with clients the high-impact results of V2’s transition to Chatter. Not only have I reduced the number of steps I need to take to access our team’s internal information, but also I have designated my email inbox to be entirely client-facing. I know that if an email pops-up in my inbox, it is from a client, and is inherently of high importance. Essentially, the volume of data I receive on a daily basis is the same, but Chatter has optimized the way I sort through, prioritize and control information allowing me to make better decisions, more quickly.
  2. Transparency: Our larger clients often tell us that one of the biggest hurdles they face is fostering effective communication and sharing of data between employees, management and executives. I have come to realize one of the fundamental problems with email is that conversations happen “behind closed doors”, therefore diminishing the benefit of open, proactive communication. Chatter, on the other hand, gives organizations the option (based on very tailorable security settings) to openly share Comments creating an ambient awareness or knowledge for others who weren’t necessarily targeted in the message. Case and point: It is not uncommon for our company’s president to unexpectedly follow up on a Chatter Comment and provide support, insight, praise or mentoring to individual team members. Creating a workplace environment where proactive communication is encouraged and knowledge is made easily available should be a priority for small, mid-sized and larger organizations alike. It has been my experience that having this kind of transparency builds trust among colleagues and ultimately better working relationships.
  3. Collaboration: Another challenge faced by our clients is managing both internal and external projects effectively. Regardless of which team within an organization drives a project (i.e. PMO, Sales, Marketing, Support, IT), it is not uncommon that important and relevant data is stored in disparate and siloed locations including email inboxes and individuals’ heads. Chatter provides an open forum to share information, gather feedback or learn how a colleague was able to overcome a similar project hurdle in the past. Perhaps one of the most compelling arguments to leverage Chatter for more effective project management is the ability to post a comment or share an attachment against a particular Project, Account, Contact or other record in the database – a dramatically different approach in comparison to a standalone chat message or email.

So while email might not be dead, it is, in my humble opinion pretty lonely. Many of our clients, both large and small, are already discovering the critical role which an integrated, platform-based communication tool like Chatter will play in executing an effective social enterprise strategy. Email will continue to serve as a sufficient vehicle for pointed, external communication in day-to-day operations. However, if Salesforce.com has its way, more leading-edge companies will increasingly leverage Chatter Customer Groups for various forms of client-oriented communications. Thanks to Salesforce.com, my dream of having a manageable inbox may be on the horizon – cheers to that! Share your thoughts and leave a comment below on whether you think Chatter is a helpful tool or how you use it to your advantage.

When Your Personal and Business Social Personas Collide

Social media in the enterprise is here to stay, so how can you express your personal voice while remaining professional?

With Salesforce.com’s launch of Chatter back in 2009 and its more recent “Social Enterprise” re-branding, the concept of a “Social Enterprise” has been steadily gaining momentum. I have no doubt that social media will continue to play an increasingly important and valuable role at the office. From improving internal communications with colleagues to generating new business and servicing client better, the Social Enterprise concept certainly has some teeth.

This shift in business communication had me scratching my head the other day. I’m not talking about how your grandparents, or even your parents would be scratching their heads about social media. I joined Facebook when a college email address was required, so I think it’s fair to say that I’ve been at the “Social” thing for a while – I get it. The question which keeps coming back to me is, “How do I take my already well-established personal social media persona and merge that with my developing professional persona?”

So I asked my colleague Walter Elly, who recently joined the V2 team from a prior role as Emerging Technology Director at a local agency, about his thoughts on having a split social personality. Is is reasonable to think I can have a dual social media presence with a Chinese wall between them?  His initial response was that it is not a best practice.

As I dug around a little deeper on the Internet, I continued to find proof supporting Walter’s feedback. From what I can tell, the advantages of building and maintaining a single Social persona outweigh the advantages of a split persona approach.  Below I have summarized my findings.

Advantages to a single social persona:

Easier to manage – Given that I still struggle generating enough relevant content to share with one distinct group of social followers, I am likely to fall short in creating material for multiple personas.

More authentic –  Ultimately, you are who you are.  By keeping your personal and professional personas unified, you solidify your personal brand while coming across as more genuine in your professional one.

> Easier to find – By having a single presence online you make it easier for others to find you and eliminate confusion around which persona should be followed by your friends and colleagues.

However, with every advantage comes some disadvantages which should be considered when building a single social persona.

Disadvantages to a single social persona:

> Too much information – With a single online persona, you run the risk of sharing content which may be interpreted negatively or out of context leading to the loss of a deal (if in sales), your job or respect within your professional network. My suggestion is to take a common sense approach reminding yourself that any content you share may be viewed by friends, family and business community members alike.

Sterilization of your personal voice – Bearing in mind the previous disadvantage, with a single online persona you may tend to tone down or mute your voice too much leading to a less genuine Social engagement.  My advice is to speak as you would to a trusted colleague and not the way you would address your manager’s boss. You can always find ways to go deeper into conversation once you have a more targeted audience.

So despite having days when I lament not being able to have split personas, I have decided to nurture one social persona which will span both my personal and professional lives. Through this approach, I am confident in my ability to build deeper trust-based relationships with people I meet through my business development role at V2 and with those outside my V2 world.

Upping the Game: Unlocking Business Benefits Through Ticketing System Integration with Salesforce.com

Through interactions with a number of sports franchise prospects and clients over the past few years, it dawned on us that many of these organizations rely largely on ticketing platforms to manage their “fan experience”. More surprising, however, is how many of these organizations have seemingly accepted the notion of being boxed in by the limitations of their legacy ticketing platforms, unable to effectively extend beyond the standard sets of features and functionality which have remained largely unchanged for years. Our philosophy: Your technology tool box should be more capable than just managing ticketing and sponsorship sales and should provide your organization with benefits across various departments.

It has been nice to see the excitement (borderline giddiness) when we outline that there is light at the end of the tunnel by integrating ticketing platforms with a best-of-breed CRM business applications platform such as Salesforce.com. With this integrated approach, what was once a sea of silos becomes a mobile and social-enabled platform across a sports franchise’s operations including ticket sales, sponsorships sales, stadium/risk management, fan loyalty, marketing campaign management and customer service/fan experience to name a few. Social media can bring a sports team’s game to the next level (no pun intended) by dramatically enhancing customer service levels or the “fan experience”. For example, with an integrated CRM tool it is possible to see when Joe Smith, a season ticket holder, posts a negative comment about his stadium experience to his network of 1,000 friends. Rather than allowing this potentially harmful post go unanswered, a sports organization could reply to Joe and offer a courtesy drink or hot dog thus enhancing the fan experience.

To further illustrate our vision, take this example from a recent conversation with a prospective client. Over the weekend before a big game, the team was forced to postpone the event due to extenuating circumstances. In an effort to proactively notify season ticket holders, they relied on their existing ticketing platform to gather the information needed for outreach. Unfortunately, they did not have the visibility they needed to simply and efficiently reach their ticket holders. Due to the lack of visibility in their ticketing system, what should have been a fairly standard multi-channel outreach ended up taking employees an excruciating number of hours to execute via phone. Possessing the ability to effectively execute such an exercise (I’m sure you could think of your own scenarios) in an agile fashion is what could make both a short-term and long-term impact on the success of the franchise.

The stories and challenges outlined above led our firm to begin leveraging Informatica Cloud, the #1 AppExchange data integration solution, for integrating legacy ticketing platforms with Salesforce.com. This approach has opened the door to managing a range of processes and data across a sports franchise’s organization within Salesforce.com including:

  • Premium Services Management
  • Social / Mobile Collaboration Management
  • Ticket Operations Management
  • Suite Sales Management
  • Community Relations Management
  • Stadium Operations Management
  • Sponsorship Sales Management

Imagine an increased visibility into all aspects of your relationship with ticket holders, an enhanced ability to segment fans for marketing and support-related communications and improved productivity, efficiency and agility across your organization. There are more stories to tell, so let’s have a discussion. Leave a comment below if you face similar challenges and would like to share with others or contact us directly to see a demonstration of our Sports Franchises solution built on the Salesforce.com platform.

CRM is a Journey, NOT just a Project

A few months ago, my colleagues and I huddled in our “Zen” creative room (complete with an Apple Think Different poster of Pablo Picasso) and decided that it was time to finally launch the long-awaited and highly anticipated “V2 Blog”. Prior to that meeting, we had been talking for months (OK, maybe a couple years) about the value of engaging in conversation with prospects, clients, partners and the general business community via a blog. I had shot down the idea so many times in fact, that when my colleague who had joined V2 more recently announced to the rest of the team in an upbeat fashion that we had decided to launch a blog, the more tenured members of the team literally laughed out loud. Message: “We’ve heard that one before, good luck newbie!”

I reluctantly agreed to begin writing an inaugural post and committed to submitting my work for final approval one week ahead of launch. So, in a typical president and sales guy fashion I have been intensely focused on client-centric initiatives over the past couple of weeks and now realizing twenty-four hours prior to our anticipated blog launch that I still have not yet decided upon a subject, let alone submit my post to our marketing team. In full disclosure, I have never written a blog post in my entire life. In order to overcome my bloggers block (is there such a thing?), I reverted back to the most effective tool I know – napkins. My friends and colleagues know that all my best ideas typically start on a napkin, and so tonight I mapped out some ideas which, provided you don’t flood this post with comments asking me to spare you from future posts, will be the topics of our conversations over the coming months.

After much staring at the napkin and internal debate I decided my virgin post would be my own take on possibly the most written about CRM topic of all time: “Why CRM Projects Fail?” I won’t bore you with the details of my credentials, but I am confident that after thousands of CRM-centric conversations during my tenure at Oracle Corporation and running V2’s Salesforce.com practice I have earned the right to share my perspective. And you, the reader, have the right to share your constructive criticism, help me and my colleagues grow and hopefully learn a little bit through our experiences. We look forward to the conversations…

The fact that people always talk about “Why CRM Projects Fail?” leads me to believe that we often frame the conversation in the wrong way. CRM is NOT just a project. Without citing a formal dictionary definition of a project, I would define a project as a set of goals and/or deliverables which aim to be achieved through execution of key tasks over a defined period of time. CRM involves people, processes, technology and culture amongst other factors, all of which evolve continuously within organizations (at least with good ones). To think that you can purchase a CRM solution, implement it and then just ‘let it be’ (reminds me of John Lennon style) is shortsighted. Your initial CRM project is the first phase of your journey. In fact, I would argue that the journey actually starts well before you purchase a solution and that the manner in which you drive your evaluation and buying decision dramatically impacts the success of your initiative (more on this below). Most companies don’t go-live with their CRM solution saying, “Oh boy, the CRM project failed!” It is during the months or weeks after go-live when adoption hurdles become more evident and companies make the critical decision whether to passionately invest in the journey ahead knowing there will be peaks and valleys or lazily throw up their arms and start placing blame on “The Failed CRM Project”. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing eight back of the napkin insights to ensure your CRM journey is a successful one.

Private: Case Study: Almac Group

We feel very well taken care of… I think this is the beginning of a very strong partnership.
— Jim Murphy, President and Managing Director, Almac Clinical Technologies

Company Snapshot

Almac provides a comprehensive range of services extending from research through pharmaceutical and clinical development to commercialisation of products. A privately owned company with 3,000 employees, Almac has its global headquarters in Northern Ireland and has extensive facilities in the UK and US. Over 600 companies worldwide, including all the market leaders, use Almac’s services.

The Challenge

This project can be summarized as both a Launch and Optimize. V2 was given the task of gathering and evaluating the requirements of five different Almac business units (who were not previously collaborating) and design a system that fosters cooperative selling. One business unit, of the five, was already running on Salesforce – and was located in the United States. The remaining business units are located primarily in the UK and were using Outlook, Excel and pad/paper for CRM activities. The challenge was to create a single instance of Salesforce.com that would function for all business unit’s individual needs and the needs of the organization as a whole.

Our deployment of Salesforce for Almac aims to support the strategic and tactical goals of the project that were identified during the original scoping of the project and throughout the life of the implementation:

Strategic Goals

  • Increase top-line growth, profitability & scalability
  • Streamline cross-business unit referral workflow
  • Better track cross-business joint proposals
  • Optimize internal communication processes to support growing collaborative sales efforts
  • Centralize data in a single database, to support business initiatives such as: 360-degree account visibility and real-time global reporting on key metrics
  • Enhance transparency & accountability – improving the ability to make data-driven decisions

Tactical Goals

  • Establish a centralized, reliable online database
  • Eliminate / reduce manual gathering of data via Excel spreadsheets
  • Design simple and intuitive interface to encourage high day-to-day end user adoption
  • Improve individual and group productivity

Key Areas of Focus

  • Joint Proposals
  • Joint Visits
  • Collaboration and Referral
  • User Adoption
  • Data Integrity
  • 360-degree of Client Account
  • Executive and Board Level Analytics
  • Opportunity Management
  • Marketing ROI Visibility
  • Lead Conversion

V2 Solutions

  • Joint Proposals – Constructed Joint Proposals custom object to help organize multiple Opportunities as being parts of a deal including two or more Almac business units.
  • Global Ultimate Account Record Type – Deployed multiple record types for Accounts, including: Global Ultimate, Client/Prospect and General. The goal of doing this is to help keep the integrity of Account Hierarchy information – and to allow for reporting at the Global Ultimate level.
  • Joint Visits – Refined Activities to allow users to show what business units participated in a Joint Visit.
  • Opportunity Referral – Designed the Opportunities and Leads records such that they can be used to make referrals to their colleagues in any of the Almac Business Units.
  • Almac Business Unit Relationships – Optimized the Account and Contact records such that a single page-layout allows all users to see what the Account/Contacts relationship is with any other the five business units.

V2 Key Takeaways

  • V2 PM Methodology Works – Given the timing of the project, Almac was an opportunity to begin applying many of the practices laid out by Jill Harkness in the PM Handbook (e.g. SOW review, milestone preparation due dates, Training documents, Empowerment handoff, etc.).

  • Over Communicate – The goal of over communication is two fold – make sure nothing crucial to the project’s success goes unnoticed and make the client feel important. I believe this project highlights the value add from over communication. The project was executed in a timely fashion with no fire drills. As shown from the quote above and many more, the Almac players expressed a real feeling of being “well taken care of”.

  • Go Ugly Early – Throughout the project we expressed the expected challenges with deploying a CRM system to a group of users with sometimes conflicting expectations. By doing this, the elephant was always addressed early on (i.e. Kickoff, UATs, Weekly Calls, etc.). Issues that required Almac participation and debate had enough time to be solved well enough in advance to avoid slowing the project down.

  • When Working with Multiple Teams, Stay Organized – John Tanner and Greg Traquair quickly discovered during (and even more so after) the project’s Kickoff that managing the design decisions and notes relating to multiple teams is not an easy task. Be prepared early on for the challenge of gathering design decisions from each team (e.g. naming conventions, field choices, etc.) and have a plan in place for requirements gathering (e.g. seating arrangement at kickoff with multiple teams, structured project notes, etc.).

The Bottom Line

Through extensive business process re-engineering (BPR), V2 identified key areas of focus imperative for Custom Briefings to consider in order to ensure an immediate return on investment and increase overall user adoption of their existing instance of Salesforce.com.  Applying both business process, organizational, and cultural insights gained in the initial part of this project, V2 leveraged the extensive IT architecture overview and roadmap created to optimize Salesforce.com with highly customized design and functionality to fit the client’s unique business needs.

Private: Case Study: Custom Briefings

“The professionalism in which V2 operated, the ability to do all of these things, including multiple requirements for multiple areas from marketing, operations, sales and technology, all from beginning to end. There were multiple people involved (in the process) and through each transition, nothing fell off…”
— Stephane Longchamp, Director of Advertising Operations, Custom Briefings

Company Snapshot

As a division of Bulletin News, Custom Briefings partners with top medical, educational, and professional associations to deliver their respective members with the latest industry specific news. Major subscribers include the American Med

As a division of Bulletin News, Custom Briefings partners with top medical, educational, and professional associations to deliver their respective members with the latest industry specific news. Major subscribers include the American Medical Association, the Drug Information Association, and the National Education Association.  Custom Briefings generates unique news content and develops publications overnight, delivering the latest interest pieces to subscribers each weekday morning.  Custom Briefings sells digital ad space directly to advertisers and also partners with agencies for indirect selling.

The Challenge

V2 inherited the Salesforce.com project without details on the thought process behind the initial deployment. No formal training had been performed to date and manual processes, though the source of generating key data for management reporting purposes, resulted in low user adoption. By reps and managers alike, Salesforce.com was perceived as a reactive tool and not  a strategic platform.

Project Snapshot

V2 initially conducted an operations consulting project to identify business challenges facing Custom Briefings, both at an organizational and departmental level.  V2 reviewed and analyzed the client’s overall IT architecture and applied suggested areas of focus for the potential optimization of Salesforce.com. This project enabled V2 to gain extensive knowledge and insight into the people, processes and technology at Custom Briefings, and in addition, generated a larger engagement for V2 to optimize their instance of Salesforce.com.  Combined with V2’s expertise in both the media vertical and in Salesforce.com optimization, V2 applied the key business and process knowledge learned throughout the initial engagement and provided the client with a solution to fit both their business processes and culture.

Key Areas of Focus

  • Proposal Management
  • Opportunity and Revenue Management
  • Campaign Management
  • Marketing
  • Collaboration
  • Training
  • Mobile
  • Data and Analytics
  • User Adoption
  • Enterprise Architecture and Planning

The Strategy

Given extensive experience in optimizing iterations of Salesforce.com for clients varying in size and scope within the media vertical, V2 applied its expertise to effectively model client organizations and business processes.

V2 Key Solutions

  • Enhanced standard objects and constructed custom objects to sufficiently capture relevant Lead, Account, and Contact data for optimal prospect and client management.
  • Deployed multiple record types across Accounts and Contacts to distinguish between Advertiser, Agency, and Association accounts.
  • Refined Opportunity and IO management process by developing relevant stage and probability measures and modeling fields to capture data relevant for high-level marketing segmentation and executive reporting.
  • Deployed Revenue Schedules for Opportunities to deliver increased accuracy in projecting sales revenue.
  • Created custom HTML button and Apex trigger to streamline the process of creating new insertion orders from an opportunity, allowing for field information to be passed to and from each object.
  • Assisted client in manipulating integration between Salesforce.com and homegrown ad campaign training system.
  • Designed dynamic reports and dashboards for the executive and management teams to track Opportunities associated with prospects, current customers, and Agency Accounts.  Deployed series of Opportunity reports with schedules to enable management to track projected revenue recognition by month.
  • Inspired user adoption by optimizing avenues for users to manage their time and data, deploying and providing training on Chatter, and by providing an in-depth full day training session for all system users.

V2 Key Takeaways

Empowering Custom Briefings to leverage Salesforce.com as a strategic platform allows for greater return on investment and enhanced stickiness and user adoption. Salesforce.com was configured for managing prospects, customers, associations, agency accounts, sales opportunities, and increase flexibility in the IO creation and development process.  By deploying Chatter, streamlining page layouts, increasing object to object data flow, and providing in-depth training to end-users, V2 invigorated user adoption.  Increased user adoption will enable better visibility for management into staff productivity, revenue recognition, and allow for very data-driven decisions on strategic account targeting and marketing campaign management.

The Bottom Line

Through extensive business process re-engineering (BPR), V2 identified key areas of focus imperative for Custom Briefings to consider in order to ensure an immediate return on investment and increase overall user adoption of their existing instance of Salesforce.com.  Applying both business process, organizational, and cultural insights gained in the initial part of this project, V2 leveraged the extensive IT architecture overview and roadmap created to optimize Salesforce.com with highly customized design and functionality to fit the client’s unique business needs.

Launch of Our New Website

Today, our team at V2 couldn’t be more excited to see our new site out in the wild. For the last few weeks, our very own Esther Park and Lucas Gomez have been working like crazy man and woman to pull all of this together. We’ve completely rethought the structure of the site to make things easier to find.

Massive Overhaul

We’ve simplified our site with a fresh new design that makes it easy to find what you’re looking for. This includes an awesome new Who We Are page collating the core make-up of V2 our Mission, Core Values, Team, and Partners all in one place.

All-New Careers

We love hiring so much that we built a whole page around it. Fun fact: We’re hiring right now! Want to be a part of a brilliant team working on projects that matter? We are a group of ambitious, friendly, driven, and passionate individuals looking for new team members to work out of a nice office in NYC’s FiDi neighborhood or one in Santiago, DR.

Beautiful Connect With Us

Our Connect With Us page is all about empowering potential clients, partners and team members to reach our team (and get connected!).

TAKE a Look Around

There really is too much good stuff to include in one post. From the mobile optimized site, a better way to meet the team, to the best-looking background photos on the planet, there are improvements to just about every corner of the site.