How talent powers business growth: Preply B2B hiring
In an increasingly competitive market, tailoring our hiring processes to meet and even over-achieve our goals is the key to success and a key pillar of one of our values: Hungry. Here we share our approach in one of the fastest scaling areas of our business: the B2B Sales Organization.
Preply’s B2B arm, named Preply Business, is one of the strategic growth levers that we are investing heavily to help us achieve our goal of helping everyone communicate confidently in another language. To make this happen, our TA team is working hard to find the best individuals to grow Preply business globally.
Our Senior Talent Acquisition Partner, Berta Vidal, spoke to us about Preply’s B2B hiring strategy and how to add difference-making talent to our organization. Berta joined Preply in May 2021 and has been working closely with our Preply Business team since the beginning. She has overseen an evolution in our hiring strategy which had previously been aimed more at our B2C business.
Berta has shared her learnings over the past 12 months on how to build a World class B2B team and power business growth through world-class talent acquisition processes.
1) Hire people who move the needle
The first version of our B2B product was launched a little over two years ago. In fact, it was born out of a quick experiment; even then we lived by one of our core values, #Hacker (an MVP, learn by doing approach). We have since built a North America, LATAM & EMEA sales team of 60 people from 20 different nationalities in less than 2 years. We’ve expanded into different markets, and the opportunity to hire international employees has been a difference maker in our success.
When looking for sales profiles (SDRs, Sales Managers, Key Account Managers), we look for candidates with experience in world-class environments, trying to hire people that will move the needle. Also, as we are constantly looking to expand into new markets, international talent is our best asset. Our talent needs to reflect our customer base: diverse. People with experience in local markets that speak local languages are always an added value for us and our customers. We are not constrained by a local talent pool, and we focus our search purely on the basis of where the talent is.
2) Open the doors to Preply & Preply Business — its history, success, and learnings
We are radically transparent in telling our unique story (who we are, what we do, and why language learning); from simply a problem our founders faced personally in 2012 through the hockey-stick growth of the past 2 years. We’re keen to show candidates the mission-driven world-class organization we’ve built and the outstanding marketplace investors we are backed by, but also the reality that Preply is a work-in-progress environment and we need candidates comfortable with rolling up their sleeves and helping to build as we scale. We feel candidates should be super excited to join this environment, so we’re always looking to share as much business context as we can with them.
Additionally, we deep dive into our B2B solution. Why? Another guiding value at Preply is #LearnerObsessed. We want people to be passionate about the problem we’re solving and who we’re solving it for; only then can you go the extra mile to make it happen. We highlight the explosive growth our B2B solution has had; continuously overachieving targets and with a strong client base of hundreds of customers all over the globe (over 30 countries and counting) that love our product and the visible impact it brings for employers and their employees around the world.
We lean in on the reality that joining a fast-growing, constantly evolving business like Preply brings almost limitless growth opportunities. We are able to showcase the amazing stories of people like Felicita Calfat, who began with Preply as an SDR and, through relentless growth seeking and countless on-the-job learnings, is now a Sales Enablement Manager. Examples of these transitions and career movements will only increase as we roll out a more defined career framework for our Sales Organization.
3) Well-defined interview process
Having a well-defined and structured interview process is also key to succeeding in hiring the best salespeople. We want to dive deep, both on technical skills & values fit, but always find the right balance between assessing what we need at Preply with giving the candidates what they need to make the right decision.
In Talent Acquisition we are almost always the first contact a candidate has with our business (sometimes ever). This means we take time to forge a strong relationship with them from the first call through to (hopefully!) becoming colleagues. Their time is precious, and we respect that. Our rule: move quickly, have a bias for action. In practice: progressing to the next steps or delivering constructive feedback in no more than 2–3 days after an interview.
At Preply we do not place too much focus on unfeasible hypotheticals. We leverage our Learners Obsessed value, to be honest about the challenges we currently face, or may face soon. After an initial screening interview, we run 2 stages focused on Technical skills: the first one being an interview with the hiring manager and the second one a practical case study. The case study consists of a real situation that the candidate could face on the job. No “how many juggling balls can you fit in a room” brain teaser questions at Preply. We want to be reflective of the challenges they would face in their day-to-day with us. In the final stage, we give them the chance to get to know multiple potential future colleagues and go through a detailed Q&A session that will give them a stronger understanding of the core responsibilities and what success looks like on the job.
If the candidate is successful after the case study stage, we move them to the last stage of the process: the Values Interview. What you do is only half the battle. How you do it is just as important, and, to make sure the relationship will be built on strong foundations, we always run our ‘Values Interview’. This is an interview run by one of our “Values Champions’’ focused purely on our six values. This is an insightful stage in which the candidate gathers deeper insight into the company culture and hears different perspectives from interviewers from different areas of the business.
4) Human touch & a candidate-centric process
With a Covid-powered shift to talent acquisition in a virtual environment we are constantly thinking about ways to optimize the efficiency of our processes — but what about the human touch?
As a platform connecting two humans, we try to constantly humanize our employer brand and cultivate excitement during every stage of the hiring process. We share with our sales candidates what it’s like to work at Preply through photos, videos, and employee spotlights. We showcase what we stand for by telling the story of our brand and our employees that live and breathe it.
Additionally, we want to make every candidate feel like they’ve had a human experience, in the same way that our customers do. We approach the candidate journey like our customer journey; building excitement from start to finish. We are transparent about what to expect from the recruitment process from the very beginning, with regular touch points along their candidate journey.
5) First-class onboarding process into the chapter & the role
Every time a Prepler joins the Preply Business team, s/he goes through a specific and detailed onboarding process led by our Sales Enablement team.
- Week 1: same onboarding for everyone joining Preply Business. During that week they go through: what is Preply Business, our B2B tool, our tutors, methodology, the corporate dashboard, our continuous support, our value proposition & pitch, client tiers, buyer persona, complete sales process, and an overview of our SDR, AE & KAM teams. Also, they meet their buddies, their managers, and their teams. Lastly, they have some to-do’s to start getting their hands dirty in the role.
- Weeks 2–4 are role-specific sessions; customized depending on the team that they will join (sales development, sales management, account management, or enablement & operations).
- Graduation: This is the graduation in the role. It means that the new hires are confident about knowing the product they’ll be selling, they know the market and the team they’ll be working with, they know every step of their part of the sales process, and they understand their short and long-term goals.
Aligning our Talent and Sales team to a common goal ensures the ability to engage happily and committed employees that will push their limits to achieve and delight our customers. Thanks to our team effort, we can say proudly that Preply is becoming The World Class.
Special thanks to Berta for helping us understand more about talent and its direct impact on business growth!