Career Stories

What It’s Really Like to Work in Sales at The Execu|Search Group

person with brown hair in a white lace dress standing in front of a tree
Melanie Eisenberg, Managing Director, Temporary Division at The Execu|Search Group.
| Courtesy of The Execu|Search Group

Your name: Melanie Eisenberg
Your title: Managing Director, Temporary Division
How long have you been at your company? 5 years

Tell us about your career journey: How did you end up working in sales?

During my senior year of college, I got my first introduction to sales as an intern for a pharmaceutical company. I wasn’t very successful as a sales rep, but I learned a lot! I’ve always had an interest in medicine, but wasn’t sure if I wanted to go into nursing or the sales side. I had a connection to The Execu|Search Group through a college alumni, so she made an introduction. I didn’t know much about staffing and recruiting, but I figured I’d give the interview a shot. I was honest with my now managers about not having much success in my past internship, but they weren’t concerned. I received a job offer, and I decided I’d try it out before I applied for grad school. Well, the rest is history! It’s been several years, and I never went back to school.

What attracted you to work at The Execu|Search Group? How did you know it would be a good fit?

The people and close-knit environment are what drew me in initially. It just felt right. I had heard some misconceptions about the staffing industry regarding high turnover, but these concerns quickly went away as I met with several of my current colleagues. All 11 people I met with were here for nearly a decade. Then I met with one of the original company founders, and he told me he had watched so many people grow up at Execu|Search—from seeing them start as new grads to attending their weddings and kids’ birthday parties. That’s when I realized this could be more than just a job.

This feeling was confirmed when I started. From day one, it became clear there was no cookie-cutter way of doing the job. My managers allow me to be myself and let my true personality shine through my work. I’ve always felt that I can work on my own terms as long as I bring in quality leads, which is what originally attracted me to the company and why I have stayed.

What are you responsible for in your role at The Execu|Search Group?

I’m responsible for maintaining my current book of business, while growing it. This involves typical sales duties like prospecting, but I think something that sets us apart is our commitment to customized solutions. I meet with all of my clients—either virtually or in-person—to gain a more thorough understanding of who they are and how we can help them.

Beyond this, I want my clients to know that I am always here to help or be a sounding board as a subject matter expert—whether or not they are actively hiring. By sharing market data and other educational resources, my goal is to help them stay competitive. The pandemic has changed everything. As we’ve helped our clients adapt, we have needed to as well. We’ve had the opportunity to get to know clients on a more personal level, learn from each other, and grow our relationships in a unique way.

What does a normal day in your job look like?

When we are normally in the office, I aim to get to work a few minutes early so I can catch up with co-workers and get organized before starting my day. I schedule my day in time blocks to keep my focus—so maybe the first hour I’m only focusing on emails, and the next I’m calling prospects and clients. The second half of my day involves documenting my conversations and job orders in our CRM, sending follow-ups when appropriate, and planning for the next day.

Teamwork is critical to our overall success, so we consistently have meetings with the sales and recruitment teams. We aim to have a theme for each of these meetings, whether it’s challenges we’re facing, team priorities, how to make the process more efficient, or opportunities to expand our partnerships across different lines of business. From there, we would spend the morning prospecting together. That’s one thing I really do miss while being remote, but one way that we’ve tried to mirror it at home is setting up Zoom calling blocks. It gives us the opportunity to recreate that energy that we’re all missing.

What is the sales department structure at The Execu|Search Group?

The Execu|Search Group’s business is broken down into five core verticals, so each division truly specializes in their particular area and the sales structure can vary depending on the industry in which they specialize. In my division, we primarily focus on contract and temporary staffing for professional services. We target midsize to enterprise accounts, so companies with anywhere from 250 to 5,000 employees. Account executives focus on client leads and business development, but work closely with our recruiting team to identify candidates and fill open roles.

What skills are essential to succeeding as a salesperson at The Execu|Search Group?

Self-motivation: Everyone is motivated by different things, and in different ways. You need to find out what motivates you, and keep reminding yourself. We have a lot of support at Execu|Search, from training and professional development to the team environment, but self-accountability is such an important pillar to our success. You are not going to win 100% of the time, so you must remember your why. That will keep you going. That being said, you also need to have a healthy work-life balance in order to remain happy and productive.

Adaptability: In the same way the job market is constantly evolving, we also need to be evolving in our approach. Just because something has worked for you in the past doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. Luckily, I’ve felt that leadership has always encouraged us to be innovative and we have the marketing support to help us get creative. Something I have done on my own, for example, is sending customized videos to clients. This is a change from what I have always done, but this is the direction the world is moving in.

Resourcefulness: You should be resourceful, both internally and externally. A lot of my business is from cross selling with other teams, and that’s because I reached out and developed a relationship with them. At the same time, it’s important to be resourceful with the tools provided to you when communicating externally. For example, I always look for ways I can be less transactional and more focused on relationship building in my approach. Our marketing department provides us with a ton of educational content, market data, and customized sales materials. I always make sure to incorporate these resources into the sales journey.

What are you working on right now that excites or inspires you?

I am proud that we’re in a position where we can help employers pivot their hiring strategies as remote work becomes more prominent. This was a challenging transition, and as a result, many employers were originally hesitant to hire and onboard remotely. We’ve worked closely with clients to help mitigate any concerns about virtual hiring and develop strategies for them to be able to meet their talent needs during this unique time.

I’m also really excited about our capabilities to help employers open up their offices safely and ensure their employees feel comfortable with an eventual return. We developed our customized re-entry service to walk our clients through the key steps of reopening in a way that works specifically for each business. Helping our clients navigate challenges is at the core of what we do at Execu|Search, and this new service is the perfect embodiment of this principle. I am so proud to work for a company that not only practices what it preaches, but is also constantly innovating and asking, “What can we do next?”

What achievement in your current role are you most proud of?

While there are a lot of deals I am proud of, I value relationships first and foremost. This includes my clients, but also extends to the entire sales team. Execu|Search has cultivated such a great work culture. While some sales environments can be cutthroat, we are all so supportive of each other. I’ve had people help me get to where I am today, even when there was no financial incentive for them to do so. I’ve been thinking about the different ways I can pay it forward, especially in a remote capacity where we might be missing some of that support from colleagues (and friends).

That’s why I started a podcast club. Each week, we pick a different podcast to listen to and discuss with one another. The topic is typically related to sales in some way, whether it’s about improving productivity or how to be more accountable. With less of a structure than our formal meetings, this club has given us an opportunity to stay connected, get to know colleagues from different offices, and learn how individuals in similar roles are dealing with personal and professional challenges.

What customer relationship management (CRM) tool do you use, and are there any other tools or services that you or your team uses on a regular basis?

We have a lot of resources at our disposal to help us create business opportunities and better serve our clients and attract candidates.

We currently use Bullhorn as a CRM to track client and candidate activity and data, create schedules, and improve our team’s customer service. We use ZoomInfo for prospecting and to optimize lead generation. LinkedIn helps with prospecting as well, but I also utilize it for personal and professional branding. I can share custom educational resources with my network. In a remote environment, we’ve also been making good use out of Zoom for not only client meetings, but also to hold educational webinars for clients and virtual job fairs for job seekers.

Additionally, we get a lot of support from our internal marketing team. We’re actually one of the very few staffing firms that has an in-house marketing department. They help us stay ahead of the curve by providing us with several resources—unique CRM technology to help nurture leads, educational content such as blog articles, eBooks, and infographics, and sales tools that can be customized to the client. All of these resources help us add value to our relationships with clients, outside of simply making a job placement.

How is your compensation structured?

It’s a combination of base salary and uncapped commission. We offer competitive earning opportunities compared to others in the industry.

How is your success measured?

Success is measured in two ways. One of them is obviously metrics, so hitting and exceeding your goals. The other way is by being proactive in your role.

The company is great about recognizing success. It feels especially nice when it is recognized by your peers, which it often is. Sales can sometimes be competitive, but we are all genuinely happy for each other’s successes. A tradition we have at the company is ringing a gong when you make your first deal or placement. While it’s quite loud, it’s always a fun way to recognize hard work!

Our CEO will also go out of his way to have a call with you or give you a shout out on a company town hall. During our weekly sales meetings, people will also get shoutouts for their achievements.

What are the steps for career progression/promotion within the sales team at your company? How do you progress to leadership?

There are a lot of opportunities for career growth, and it can look different for different people. If you are looking to move up on your team, your goals are very well defined, and if you hit those goals, you’ll be on track for the next level. Performance targets, however, aren’t the only requirements for growth. Leadership looks out for other attributes as well. These include being a team player and hard worker, and having a recognized impact throughout the firm. If you’re looking to take a more entrepreneurial approach to your career, you also have opportunities to do that, whether by entering a new field, creating a new line of business, or even opening up a new market. Doing these things and excelling at them gets recognition, and oftentimes with that comes promotion and career growth.

Formally, we have a bi-annual performance evaluation that is used to build succession benches and develop high-potential candidates for promotions. What I love is that you don’t have to wait until a formal performance review for feedback. With regular meetings with your supervisor, you’ll always know where you stand. For example, I have weekly check-ins with my manager. We have a really transparent relationship, so nothing is ever a surprise when we talk about hitting my quota and setting new goals. These chats have been incredibly valuable to my growth at Execu|Search because the conversation always goes both ways. Not only do I get the support needed to reach the next level, but I also have the opportunity to suggest new ideas and give feedback.

What do you value most about The Execu|Search Group’s company culture?

There are so many ways to make an impact beyond your specific role. We tell our clients that people are what move companies forward, and we truly believe that. I’ve had so many opportunities to grow personally and professionally in my time here, from leading initiatives within our Women’s Network to being one of the first members of our DE&I committee. Everyone has a unique contribution to make, whether that be through their specific role or personal perspective. I love that the company recognizes this, and encourages you to be your genuine self.

Regarding the subculture of the sales team, we really do feel like a family. We work hard, but have so much fun doing it. I never expected to be embraced the way I was when I first started, but so many people have taken a genuine interest in my success.

What advice do you have for people applying for sales jobs in recruiting?

Take a look at our website and really get to learn who we are and what we value as an organization. We have such a unique environment here, and our team is very close knit and supportive of each other.

If you get the interview, my advice would be to treat it as if you were also interviewing us. Really make sure it’s a good fit on both ends. Remember who you are and be yourself!

And if you’re new to the industry, there are so many skills that are transferable here. If you work hard to learn the business and are doing everything that is expected of you, the results will come.