January 12, 2024

The Art of Founder-Led Sales with Robin Choy

In this episode of Sales Therapy Robin and Alper delve into the art of founder-led sales and how you can stand out from the crowd in 2024.

Meet our guest

Robin Choy, CEO at HireSweet, Host at The Modern Recruiter.

Robin is the founding CEO of HireSweet, where over the past 7 years, they've helped 1000+ companies enhance their sourcing strategies. Additionally, Robin hosts "The Modern Recruiter," a podcast catering to modern recruiters keen on continuous learning in the ever-evolving world of talent acquisition.

Key takeaways

  • Learning by doing is a crucial skill for entrepreneurs.
  • During tough times, focus on short-term goals and consider quitting only on a good day to maintain clarity and sharpness.
  • Understand client needs by adopting a "jobs to be done" perspective, ensuring your product aligns with solving specific problems for your customers.
  • Find a balance between confidence and market feedback in founder-led sales When scaling, develop a solid playbook and hire individuals aligned with company values.
  • Learn from influential figures in your industry, invest in personal branding on platforms like LinkedIn, and create content that genuinely helps your audience, fostering trust and differentiation.

Prefer audio format? Listen on Spotify.

Background and shaping experiences

The conversation kicks off with a warm introduction, acknowledging Robin's significant contribution to the HR Tech landscape over seven years. Robin, a two-time founder, and an alum of the prestigious HEC business school in Paris, provides a glimpse into the challenges and triumphs of navigating the highly competitive HR Tech industry. 

Alper probes into Robin's podcasting experience, revealing that Robin has hosted approximately 100 to 150 episodes across both English and French platforms. 

As the discussion shifts, Robin shares insights into his early years, having been born in Bordeaux, France and spending four years in Madagascar, which exposed him to diverse cultures early on. Robin reflects on his family background, highlighting the entrepreneurial spirit of his father and his mother's role as a dedicated school teacher is discussed, showcasing the dichotomy that contributed to Robin's character development. 

He attributes his entrepreneurial mindset to diverse work experiences, emphasizing the value of learning by doing. 

“And would even say that it's the biggest skill that you can have as an entrepreneur is just like do the thing because most of the time you're not qualified to do the thing anyway. You don't have the skills, but you'll learn when you do.

Entrepreneurship journey

The conversation pivots to Robin's finance background, where he drew unexpected parallels between derivatives and entrepreneurship at Commerce Bank. Robin details his transition from finance to his first real entrepreneurship experience, founding a remote services marketplace.

This venture, though not a financial triumph, provided crucial lessons and paved the way for HireSweet, initially a student project. Robin emphasizes the resilience required in the entrepreneurial journey, highlighting the team's response with innovative initiatives like "Hire Switch" and the launch of a podcast during challenging times. He candidly discusses the taboo surrounding lows, acknowledging thoughts of quitting and underscoring the importance of navigating short-term goals. 

“Most of the time when I was very low, I wasn't thinking about the next 10 years, but just like, okay, how do we make it through the next six months? And then you make it and then you're on the high again and you're back for another few years. But we had to reinvent ourselves all the time.”

Robin advocates for the "just do it" mentality and the importance of taking action, citing the start of his podcast with a basic setup as an example and initiating small steps, like inviting one guest, to build momentum. Talking about handling lows in the entrepreneurial journey, Robin reflects on a motivational post about quitting only on a good day. 

“You can quit and there's nothing wrong with quitting. But you don't want to be quitting at the low. You want to be quitting when you're good. So this way your mind is clear and it's sharp.”

The conversation shifts to Robin’s decision to move to San Francisco about a year and a half ago that was driven by the desire to have a foothold in the significant U.S. recruitment space. He reveals that establishing an international presence, particularly in the U.S. market, was always a goal for HireSweet.

Adjusting to the market changes

Next, Robin Choy discusses the readjustment of HireSweet's products in response to market changes. Recognizing the impact on internal teams, especially at startups, Robin shares how HireSweet pivoted to cater more to staffing companies and recruiting agencies. 

As the conversation delves into the process of understanding client needs, Robin suggests adopting the perspective of "jobs to be done" from the book "Competing Against Luck." He emphasizes that people hire products to perform specific jobs and that understanding these jobs is crucial. 

“So think about jobs. What are the jobs that the client are trying to solve? And jobs are more than a, you know, there are more than just features, back-to-back features. They're really much more.”

Additionally, Robin explains how HireSweet leverages content creation, specifically through its podcast, as a way to gather information about the market and customer needs. He highlights the podcast's role in addressing the overarching job of helping recruiters become more efficient and productive. The content-first approach allows HireSweet to collect data, promote the product indirectly, and maintain a competitive edge.

How to master founder-led sales

Next, Alper and Robin touch on the founder-led sales experience and how it differs from regular sales. Robin mentions that learning to sell was not innate for him, but rather a skill he developed by reading books, consuming content, and taking lessons from various sources. He emphasizes the need to approach sales as a learning process, much like building a muscle.

The discussion then shifts to the challenges of founder-led sales.

You have to figure things out. You have very few supporting materials. You don't have a lot of customer testimonials. So it's much, much harder and you have to reinvent the playbook. You're not sure that the product you're selling is good, let alone the playbook. So you have to juggle several things at a time. And I think of it more as being a doctor that's building a medicine.

Robin advises against falling into the traps of being too focused on pushing the product or overly dependent on market feedback. He stresses the importance of finding a balance between being confident, a bit pushy, and receptive to market feedback.

The transition from founder-led sales to scaling sales efforts doesn’t come easy as well. Robin highlights the significance of developing a sales playbook, teaching the underlying principles, and hiring individuals who align with the company's values and principles. 

“When you hire someone, they have to have some kind of playbook and you also want to teach them how you came to that playbook and how they can make the playbook evolve itself. And that's basically also giving them a lot of resources to learn.”

He emphasizes the importance of curiosity, motivation, and continuous learning when hiring sales professionals. Robin also shares his practice of reading various books and recommends "Founding Sales" and "Competing Against Luck" for startup sales enthusiasts.

Continuous learning and personal branding

In the final podcast section, Robin and Alper discuss various resources they find valuable in the context of sales and business. Robin mentions following Chris Orlob, Jordan Belfort, and the podcast "Acquired" as valuable resources for understanding sales and business success in general.

Shifting gears, they delve into the conversation about LinkedIn algorithms and content creation. Robin acknowledges that algorithms may not be fair to everyone, but emphasizes that LinkedIn has been effective for him. He recommends that founders invest in their personal brand on social media platforms and create content that genuinely helps their audience, rather than focusing solely on promoting their products. 

“Think about what's the job to be done for your clients and help them solve this with different types of content, because they will be very grateful for this, you're helping them for free. And then when they're ready to buy, they'll buy from you and not your competitors because they know that they will hire your product to solve their jobs because they already hired some of your other products.”

In the closing part of the conversation, Robin explains how Flowla helps enhance engagement during the sales process, providing visibility to clients. The tool aids in creating milestones, coaching clients through the process, and ensuring they have a clear understanding of the steps involved in reaching their hiring goals. The discussion concludes with the importance of clients' success and the role of education in achieving it.


Full episode transcript

Alper Yurder: All right, so today in the therapy chair, we have Robin Schorr, who is a founder of HR Tech, pioneer, HireSweet, which is lovingly used by over 1,500 clients today. We'll talk about all his success and the seven years it took him to get there. But Robin is a two-time founder, and he's a fellow, uh, HEC alumni, that's a business school in Paris, one of the best, I guess. And he's built his company in the incredibly crowded HR Tech space. I don't know if he likes the term, but I like to say in a world where people are unfortunately firing He's in the business of hiring and he made it a success So I think we'll be really interested to listen to his tips We'll talk about his success the joy the pain and the journey. So welcome to the show Robin and how are you feeling today?

Robin Choy: I'm feeling pretty good. Thanks for having me. Thanks for this good introduction. There's already dozens of ways and directions I can go. Let me know where you want to go. So many questions.

Alper Yurder: Well, you'll know where to go because you're a very experienced podcast host. How many episodes have you done, by the way? How many people have you interviewed today?

Robin Choy: I've interviewed about like probably 100 to 150 people on both my podcasts and I have one in French, one in English. And let's see if like people... Yes, there's one in French, you can listen to it.

Alper Yurder: Wow, you have one in French too? I didn't know the French one. Okay, okay. My level of French might be okay for it, but is it mostly like HR leaders, recruitment leaders? Like, oh, I already jumped in, but I will ask this. I will make an exception for the podcast.

Robin Choy: Yeah. This was Leo. We started in 2020 and the podcast was originally called A Players and the goal was like, how do you hire A Players? So we had recruiters and talent acquisition folks, but also the CEO. And I keep saying we, but it was mostly me. Well, it's a company podcast. We had the CEO, Michael Seibel was CEO at YC. We had Kim Scott who wrote Radical Candores. It was a bit eclectic and it was more a way for me to connect with people and chat with people that were interested in a big theme of recruiting. And since then I've changed it to The Modern Recruiter. And that's probably a better name. It's like, okay, how do you learn about the latest things in trends and how do you think about the future in recruiting? Well, you listen to The Modern Recruiter. And in French it's called Une Equipe qui Gagne, which is the translation to, yeah, exactly.

Alper Yurder: You need a team that wins. Nice. That's I think that's very much in line with your finance background. It sounds very, very success-oriented. Anyway, so let's go back to the actual role of the podcast, which I'm trying to make sure that we adhere to. Uh, so obviously any good therapy starts with your childhood and you're growing up. So I'm very keen to start talking a little bit about, you know, where did you grow up? And the reason I ask that question to people is your younger years, how you grew up, your parents, whatever, I think it has a major impact on the business person that we become. So I'm very interested in that relationship always like who are you and how, how did you become the you that you are?

Robin Choy: Yeah, absolutely. I was born in the year of 1982 in the Bordeaux in France, South of France, spent a few years in France and then moved to Madagascar for four years, where I grew up from four to eight years. So like pretty early on, I was exposed to living in a different country, different culture. And you're right that stayed with me because I ended up working in like, I don't know how many but like several different countries. And I recently moved from Paris to San Francisco, but a year and a half ago. And those early years definitely had an impact on me. Um, that's the first thing. And then went back to France. And then the other thing, two other things, um, my father used to, and still is an entrepreneur, so, uh, never had his, uh, baccalaureate, um, was very, uh, a very hustly entrepreneur building stuff and all from scratch, kind of trying to be a self-made man, which he was. So that had an impact as well. And my mother was a teacher, a school teacher. And so she really made sure that I was good in school and succeeded in school. So like, this was very... Yeah. They ended up splitting, so yeah. They didn't make it work themselves, but...

Alper Yurder: So balancing the father. Okay. That's a great story there. Okay.

Robin Choy: It was two different, very opposite inspirations that were both good in both character building, I would say.

Alper Yurder: Hmm. I love that. Um, the thing I learned about the podcast is once you have your guest answering, you limit it to two minutes because otherwise it becomes like a monologue. So I'm going to cut you at some point. Also, I'm going to cut you because I really relate to that. What you mentioned, the father being the entrepreneur. So my father was a self-made man too, but then also he self-destroyed at times, which I think comes together, you know? Um, so I mean, I'm not going to go straight into like the self-destruction moments where we'll talk about that a little bit. How is the entrepreneurship journey going for you? You do and it's part of the game. So how is the journey going for you? Like how do you feel like your younger years prepared you for the experience that you have or have they prepared you for the entrepreneurship experience you have?

Robin Choy: Yeah, you have to have the self-destruction moments. All right. That's deep, man. That's really deep in me. Let me think about that. Didn't expect this. Yeah, it is a therapy. I think that I was... I've always been very... How do you say? It changed countries. So I had to be very adaptable when I was a kid, and then when I grew up, I left home when I was 17 to study in a boarding school to prepare for the exams to get into business school. So I was very early on, I was very autonomous. I worked from as soon as I could work in France. I think it's the 16th, when you're 16, you can start working in France, being paid for your work. I studied working. So I worked in a moving company. I worked in a construction company. I worked, so I always did some kind of different jobs. So that led me to be very adaptive and very, probably very entrepreneurial early on. And in that way, that definitely helped me build confidence and skills to overcome awkwardness and to be, to get out of my comfort zone, which has definitely been helpful. And would even say that it's the biggest skill that you can have as an entrepreneur is just like do the thing because most of the time you're not qualified to do the thing anyway. You don't have the skills, but you'll learn when you do. And most people wouldn't just do the thing because they're like sane people and they realize they're not qualified to do it. But if you kind of have that kind of a bit crazy mindset that you're gonna success however it works, then yeah, then you do it and then you start learning how to do it.

Alper Yurder: I think I experienced what you're explaining a lot this year, which is I used to think I'm adaptable. So I've spent over 10 years in sales and leadership and blah, blah. But now this year being a founder, it's a completely different game. Like you're this comfort zone thing that we, you know, use so softly, completely like you hire ahead of content, but you need to know what is content. You hire ahead of product, but you need to know what is product. So it's just crazy. I love it.

Robin Choy: And you also have to be confident enough, like when we created HireSweet, and even before we were in my previous company, you like, you're hiring people who are the same age as you, and you have to be confident that there is, that they can work for you. So you always work together, uh, to a main objective, but still that requires some kind of like, uh, yeah, you have to be, uh, you have to be confident and you have to learn fast as well.

Alper Yurder: Okay, we're touching on so many, so many cool and interesting things. I don't know where to go, but I'm going to go this direction, I think. So we learned about the younger years. You mentioned a few first jobs. Then how did the entrepreneurship journey start? Like what was your first role? It wasn't finance, right? And then you moved to being a founder.

Robin Choy: Well, it's actually the opposite. When I was in school, I started working on a project. It was called, so it ended up being my first company, even though it was still pretty much my project. So I started working on this very early on and even before getting into business school, I think. So when I was 19, 20, and this dragged on for several years. It was always a bit part-time, but I started working on a project before. But at some point it's like, okay, I needed to do internships, do internships. And I wanted to intern in real companies and do real jobs. So that's why I went to work for Kermit's Bank for a year. And then after working for a year for Kermit's Bank in London and Hong Kong, I went back to the project and spent an entire year and a half working on that project and trying to turn this into a real company. I guess the answer is I started very small and took it from here. And it never really was an actual real company. We never really did a lot of money. So it was more of a student projects, like glorified student projects, but that was also a stepping stone for something else behind.

Alper Yurder: Good. Yeah, yeah, I get it. I had a similar thing, but I know that in your career you had that finance intro, which so I did the same school as you. I know those same guys as you. I used to call them finance bros. I think I still do, because now my friends are because of my age, they're MDs and stuff. But so when you were fine and a finance bro, let's say you still enjoyed that life. And something you explained to me was really interesting. It opened a new perspective. You mentioned about derivatives being related to being an entrepreneur or creating a product. That was really interesting. Can you maybe wrap it up in a minute? Like, what do you mean by that?

Robin Choy: Yeah. So when I worked at Commerce Bank, we were building derivatives. So derivatives are a different way to basically a different way to bet on stock. Instead of buying the stock Apple, you are going to make a bet that if Apple goes above a certain price, you're going to double your bets. And if it goes below, you're going to lose the entire money. So instead of just tracking the stock, it will be double the money or just lose it all. That's one way to do a derivative. And it's super creative because you can do a lot of stuff. You can do this on stocks. You can do this on, uh, on interest rates, on currencies. So the sky is really the limits and, um, it can be a way to make bets and be very speculative for people that want to make speculative investments. And it can also help you create a very specific kind of insurance against certain situations. Um, companies will use this to hedge against future interest rates, for instance, or something happens in the market. So you can do lots of stuff. You have to stay on top of the latest trends and the global macroeconomic trends, and you basically go to your clients and build the stuff for your clients. You have to align different stakeholders. So you then need to go first, I was in sales. So we talked to the client and we'll go to the trading team and be like, okay, can we build that product? And we do this for this. You have to negotiate as well. And then the opposite when you're a trader, you really do the thing. So you have to think about how to build a product. And that was intellectually, it was crazy. Like I really, really enjoyed it. Um, yeah.

Alper Yurder: So you caught me at the build that product because I know you, I've come to know you. Well, how did I come to know you? When HireSweet became a client of Flowla, then I got to know you and your marvelous team, which are really cool to work with. But I came to know you as an entrepreneur already of a company that is now seven years old and you had the founding experience before, but you started in finance and that derivative thing, which I always despise, I find it so boring. The way you presented to me, it was like entrepreneurship, which is, which is really cool. Um, but then how did you move to your real entrepreneurship experience? Let's, let's start with that very first company you founded. How did that happen?

Robin Choy: And there's also, back to finance, there's also a very entrepreneurship compliment in the way that if you succeed, you can capture most of the creation. And if you fail, you, well, like there's protection as well. So there's limits to this, but like if you fail, you take the loss. And if you make it, you take the win. And so, yeah, everybody has their own profit and losses account and they're trying to make it. So very, very similar to when you have a company. And just after, so after two years, after one year of internship at Commerce Bank, I always had that project on the back burner. I started working on it full time, assembled a small team with friends. And we did a good job for… Like they did a good job for the direction of the project was very idealistic. The idea was to create a marketplace for remote services based on time instead of a currency. That was very idealistic. And we never quite made it, but then we started working with companies and learning stuff and building in the startup ecosystem. That was a very good experience. I was 22 or 21 at the time. And then went back to school for a year to do my final year. And then with a friend, previous friend from HEC and a new friend that I met in the final year, we started working on HireSweet originally as a startup student project. And then we worked well together and we kept working on it for like until today.

Alper Yurder: Would you say HireSweet is a highlight of your career then?

Robin Choy: Well so far yes, I hope I'll do more. But yeah, absolutely so far yes.

Alper Yurder: I love that. So what were some of the highlights of your career? Some defining moments for you.

Robin Choy: What do you call highlights? Like moments that I enjoy the most or moments where I learn the most?

Alper Yurder: I don't know, something you're proud of. Yeah. But, but something you're proud of something like for me, I mean, I don't know, like making the switch from consulting finally to sales properly was a highlight of my career, for example.

Robin Choy: Well, I would say that some relationships that I had at work with people that worked in HireSweet and in our team, I think I really got better at building a team and interacting with people and having very genuine relationships with people. If I look back on my experience with HireSweet, it's mostly the people that I work with and the time that we had together working on problem, trying to solve a problem that was very enjoyable. So that's been a highlight. And then some like very specific deals. We recently signed a larger deal, if ever it was interesting to work on this as well, how the product evolved as well. But I would say it's more, yeah, I've had a hard time finding out one specific moment that was like, oh, this was the highlight of my career. It's more a sum of small wins that compound over time. Let's say.

Alper Yurder: Really? Wow. Congrats. OK, highlights are sometimes difficult, but I think low lights are a little bit easier to remember. I'm not going to ask about the specific low lights, but were there moments in your career overall like, man, I hate this, I'm going to quit or man, I'm losing at this, I have to change it. Oh, like what am I doing? I have to do better, blah, blah. Like, do you have any of those that you might want to highlight?

Robin Choy: Oh yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And I think that there is a kind of a, there is a taboo on this and it's very, uh, founders don't talk about the downs and there are a ton of downs and where you're there, you know, like every founder has thought about quitting the company several times and the person who says, I never thought about it, uh, she lies. So people think about living in a company and you're like, okay, this is too hard or I'm not going to make it. And, um, and it's also part of the life cycle of the company. You have to go through this. Um, so we had like a 2020, 2020 was pretty rough. We went through YC from January to March. We're, we're on the, uh, top of the world. Um, very proud, very happy. We had a ton of revenue. Then the COVID hits and we lost 80% of our revenue in like two weeks and nobody's hiring anymore. So you have to keep on reinventing yourself. At the time we did something that we called Hire Switch. There were speed dating sessions over Zoom with like 10 companies and 20 candidates. And we tried to keep the thing flowing, try to make it, to make the most of the situation. And that's also when we launched the podcast because we had time, so we're going to invest that time into long-term assets. So low points can also... You have to find the good thing in everything. And you also... The goal is not to keep going for 10 years, just to keep going for another six months. And most of the time, it's just everything it takes to go to exit the low. So yeah, don't think about... Most of the time when I was very low, I wasn't thinking about the next 10 years, but just like, okay, how do we make it through the next six months? And then you make it and then you're on the high again and you're back for another few years. But we had to reinvent ourselves all the time. That's also the reason why I moved to San Francisco a year and a half ago. Yeah.

Alper Yurder: I just want to… we'll come to San Francisco, but I just want to build on that. Like sometimes when I feel overwhelmed, there's so much I need to do. I feel like a failure, blah, blah. I just say, I don't know, you need to invite 100 people to podcast. So, you know, this thing can go on. Right. I just say, you know what, man, start with 10 people, get your 10 people out and then we will talk about the next. And you had like those six months, you had 14 of them so far. It's been seven years. I think you're, you know we can establish that you're quite successful at this.

Robin Choy: Yeah, the thing is, most of the time it's just fucking do it. Like do the thing. You need to get guests on your podcast. Just get one guest. Use a crappy microphone. Do whatever you want, but just get one. And that's how we started. And then you get more and more and more. I read a... Yeah.

Alper Yurder: Yeah. And that moved to San Francisco. I'm sorry I cut you there. Go ahead.

Robin Choy: No, there's another interesting thing about the lows. I read a, I think it was a motivational Instagram post about a person was talking about how to raise your kids and how to tell your kids not to quit on a bad day and to only quit on a good day. So if they go to, they play soccer and they really don't enjoy one specific training and they're like, okay, I want to quit. Yes, you can quit and there's nothing wrong with quitting. But you don't want to be quitting at the low. You want to be quitting when you're good. So this way your mind is clear and it's sharp. So don't leave on a bad day, leave on a good day. And that was a good way also. Like I remember this and still remember it to go through the lows. Like, okay, this is a low time. So let's not make any decisions and just go through it another six months and then you're back to high again. So yeah.

Alper Yurder: Well, you're never gonna quit on a high, so I think it's a bit of a trick to all of us. And that's what ends up happening. You have the low moment, then you bounce back.

Robin Choy: Yeah, you can quit on a high actually. Like if you feel like this is a good decision and this is a good time to quit, whatever you wanna do. Sports is a good example. Like you're doing a sports, you're playing soccer, but you're like, okay, this takes too much time. I really enjoy it, but I cannot do it anymore. And then you stop on a high. It's better to stop on a high than stop on a low when you're injured or something and you always be a bit bittersweet about it.

Alper Yurder: I love that. So let's come to San Francisco. You moved two years ago, is that it?

Robin Choy: About a year and a half ago. Yeah. Early 2023.

Alper Yurder: About a year and a half. What triggered the decision other than you loving, you know, traveling around a bit?

Robin Choy: The goal was always to have an international company, especially to have presence in the US, which is a huge market in the recording space. So there was always the goal, when we wrote our first shareholders agreement that was in the writing in 2016. We went first time in San Francisco in 2020 for YC. And the goal was always to come back. Now, why did I come back at that point? in time exactly is because I really, because we wanted to come back, I really started selling the US to my then girlfriend, the wife. And that was a long-term process for her to be able to move with her company. At some point, she went through interviews, was able to move and that's what triggered it. She was like, okay, we can do it, but if we do it, it's now. You've been like a hustling me for two years with this. So now we can do it, do you wanna do it?

Alper Yurder: Yeah, I mean, at some point, I think the US is very important for our sector as well, like sales tech. I guess for every sector, US is quite key. Sometimes I tell my co-founder if somebody needs to go, it's going to be you because I'm not moving out of London. I love London too much, but I love the weather in San Francisco. I want to come to our day today a little bit and talk a little bit about, you know, what are the challenges you're dealing with right now and what impact are you trying to have as a founder? Um, like what's top of mind at the moment for you?

Robin Choy: We are in the process of readjusting our product. We used to sell mostly, so we have two products. The first one is a talent marketplace where companies can hire software engineers. It's only in France. The second product is a CRM for recruiting. So think of it as a HubSpot, but for recruiting. We've lots of shared features with HubSpot. We used to sell these mostly to internal teams and then, internal teams got hit pretty hard, especially at startups, recruiting like head counts where it worked out. So we had to readjust and go more into, and at some point we had like that product and we're like, who needs that product right now? And what do they need more from the product? Like what are the features that they miss for now? We realized that staffing companies that used to have it very easy two years ago, there were printing money, everybody was recruiting. So recruiting agencies were making a shit ton of money, didn't have to be very efficient and no, they have to be efficient. No, they have to organize themselves. They have to keep a better track of candidates. It suddenly got much harder to make money. And suddenly our product became more relevant. As to two years ago, they were like, the process fine, we're making money. We don't wanna change anything, no, they were very much looking for, and they still are very much looking for productivity enhancement. And that's the case for temp staffing, for recruiting agencies, exit searches, exit search. So we're going much more into this. We had a few features that we needed to be able to really address that market, and we have them now. And it's been the case for about a month. So yeah. Yeah.

Alper Yurder: I have one specific question about that whole story, I think, which resonates with a lot of people. And we get deaf or blind to this. Who needs this product and how am I going to sell it to them? I mean, I'm going to ask you this hard question. Do you have your secret tips or things that you think others might not know to do it, you know, other than saying like, oh, yeah, you have to talk to your client, et cetera. Or maybe that was what you were going to say. But I'm just curious, like, how do people understand what their clients need and act accordingly?

Robin Choy: There's, I've been reading a book recently. That's probably a good answer to that question. It's called, Competing Against Luck. And the whole idea of the book, so I would recommend people read it. The whole idea of the book is you're looking for jobs to be done so people don't buy products, but they hire products to sell for a specific job. And if the job doesn't exist, they won't buy the product. So for us, it was pretty straightforward that if companies don't hire anymore, there is no job, so they're not going to hire a product to do the job. And recruiting agencies at the country and staffing agencies, where that's the opposite, like the job to be done is now to, to be more efficient, be more productive. So think about jobs. What are the jobs that the client are trying to solve? And jobs are more than a, you know, there are more than just features, back-to-back features. They're really much more. I think for Flowla, the goal is to make more money. That's the job to be done. And how are we going to help them make more money by better organizing the sales process, but still you want to, you're in the business of helping your clients make more money, basically. Um, so think about jobs and not so much clients. Um, the, the book, uh, Competing Against Luck really challenges the idea of person as where you're being, okay, we want to sell to David. David is a 30-year-old male working in finance and you're very focused on the person. And what they're saying is you should be focusing on a job instead. So that would be kind of unique insight if I had one, aside from just talk to your clients.

Alper Yurder: Mm-hmm. Ha ha ha. I think you had one. I mean, I throw you in the ocean there and you managed to really swim well. Thanks for that book advice, by the way. We'll put it in the resources.

Robin Choy: Nice. Sure. The other thing as well, what we've, and we've had that idea of the job to be done in mind for a long time. That's also why we started the podcast. When you think about it, the podcast in itself, very few companies, and that's also a different competitive angle. Um, if we think to ourselves, we're in the, in a job, our job is to help competitors, uh, recruiters be more productive job of helping them be more efficient. Why would they want, and also why more efficient? Because if you're more efficient, you're happier in your job. You'll make more money. You have more holidays. You can spend more time with your family. So there's a lot of things that go back to the person. So if we're in that job, we can do it with a podcast, but we can also, we can do it with the product, but also with a training, with a podcast. And we really built the content first. And if you look at my content, if you listen to my podcast, I don't really push HireSweet. It's even more a way for me to collect data and information about the market and what people really want. Instead of thinking of it as a way to push the product and that's where you're going to promote the product through the podcast. No, it's actually the opposite is we're going to talk to the clients and we're going to even. Everybody wants to be more productive. So there's this high job. We're going to solve this job different ways. There's one way to solve it is to buy the product higher. So it's here. I am, but if you don't have the money, you can still listen to the podcast. Or if you don't even have the time to listen to the podcast, you can read my link posts. So that's also another competitive advantage.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, of course. I mean, that's the point about for me, selling was never about selling. It was always about helping, guiding, consulting. That's why I call this sales therapy, you know, like, okay, hello prospect. What's your challenge? What brings you to the therapy chair today? Like, what is your problem? Let's solve it. If I have the solution and if you can afford it, I'll sell it. But if, if I can help you in any other way, like if there's an interim thing I can suggest you, I'm going to do that because I'm a helper. I'm your therapist rather than I'm the closers.

Robin Choy: Yeah. I'm your doctor. I always take sales lessons when I go to the doctor. Yeah. When you go to doctors, you're like, you're just sit there. The guy is listening to you, trying to make a diagnostic and then he writes what you should buy and is you're so convinced that you'll just take whatever he says and you'll buy it. That's the best sales possible. Um, yeah, I always take sales lessons.

Alper Yurder: I'm your doctor, yes. That's a big claim. Yeah. Also, you don't have like seven years of medicine experience, so you will buy what he says. I have two specific questions that I want to go with before our time runs up. One is about founder-led sales and two about something around LinkedIn that we discussed before. So founder-led sales, because it's sales therapy. I want to understand your story of, do you always know how to sell? How did you learn it? How was the founder-led sales experience for you? And how did you grow from there? Like, how did you hand over that founder-led sales to somebody who can own it and do it for you? Like that whole story, I'm very curious.

Robin Choy: Um, I am part of the answer will be another book, which is called Founding Sales, uh, it's book, the book is Founding Sales, the early stage go-to-market handbook, have the link here, startup sales for founders and others is very good book and the underlying, um, answer to that is I read a lot of books and I consume a lot of content, podcasts and interviews, and, um, I always try to, to take lessons. So as I say, when I go to the doctor, I really make notes at the end of what I liked into the process that we can use in our own process. So that's how I learned. I'm not a natural salesperson. I'm not even, I don't consider myself an extrovert. So I have a hard time going to people I don't know and I'm working on this. But it's also a muscle that you build and then you build your like routines and you know better how to talk to people. And then you're, so that's definitely a muscle that you can train. That's the first thing. Founder-led sales is very different to regular sales. There is, it's very different. It's more, you have to figure things out. You have very few supporting material. You don't have a lot of customer testimonials. So it's much, much harder and you have to reinvent the playbook. You're not sure that the product you're selling is good, let alone the playbook. So you have to juggle several things at a time. And I think of it more as being a doctor that's building a medicine. And you have to make sure you also don't want to fall into the trap. There's two traps. The first trap is to absolutely want to sell your product and push your product and don't listen to market feedback that your product is either not solving for a job or there is not even a job. Like maybe there's a job, the product's not solving for this. Maybe there's not even a job. So you have to be very careful about this. And the other point is as well to be too focused on market feedback and at some point it's got to be a leap of faith. And you can't wait for your clients to describe exactly the product that they want, because if it's so easy for them, people would have done this before. There's a famous Henry Ford quote of, if I asked for the client what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse. And when you're doing this, you also have to be confident about yourself and you have to be kind of pushy at some point. So you have to find that right balance between being pushy and kind of desperate, but not too desperate that you don't listen to market feedback. And then how do you scale this? That's, yeah, it's another thing entirely.

Alper Yurder: Okay, so let's go into that if you don't mind. I'm curious. Okay, you figured out how to sell. You're hiring your first salesperson. I'm sure it wasn't easy. Like you probably had some lessons learned from there.

Robin Choy: Yeah. I think there's, there's two components. You want to, first you want to figure out the sales recipe and the sales formula. So you want to give them some playbook to execute. So you're going to figure out the playbook yourself. And that's doing the thing yourself, experimenting, selling to your first client, trying different pitch decks, trying different. So that's the first thing. When you hire someone, they have to have some kind of playbook and you also want to teach them how you came to that playbook and how they can make the playbook evolve itself. And that's basically also giving them a lot of resources to learn. So as you can see, I'm big about books, giving them books, book recommendations, and trying to not give them the low level of this is what you need to do, but also this is how you can think about what you need to do. And if you manage to give that, and if you manage to, there is, there is person in the team that we're super aligned with. And I think that's because we share all those kind of underlying principles. We read the same books, we have the same, we look at the same people, we listen to the same podcasts. So we reach the same decision with the same information. And that's the best you wanna do, because now I can trust that person entirely to even make better decisions than me, because he has more context now than myself. And that's the state that you wanna reach where not only the person executes the playbook, but also improves it and learns. And you wanna give the, you wanna give Funding Sales to the person. You wanna give them Competing Against Luck. You wanna give them sales book. And you also want that person to do the same with the person in their team. 

Alper Yurder: Yeah, of course. So you have to hire the right people in the first place, like curiosity, motivation, learning. Oh my God, I don't think this will be our last podcast, Robin. There's so much to uncover there. You mentioned, like of course you consume content. Do you also follow a few influencers or people like other founders you look up to, anybody you learn from? If you feel like dropping any names for the listeners.

Robin Choy: Sure, so lots of books, some that I already mentioned, and the classic sales book. Basically what I do is when I hear about a book, I buy it and I read it. Most of the time, sales book and business books, you can read them in a few hours. You wanna read the book, not a summary, because you get the information. So I do this every time I hear about a book, I read it and then decide whether there is good learnings or not. A book is less than 20 bucks every time. So if you do this all the time, really compounds, like it's not that expensive given the information that you get. So buy books. 

Alper Yurder: And you can gift it to somebody afterwards. Yeah, we'll put it down in the resources.

Robin Choy: Yeah, also, yeah, right. And have the paper copy, it's like this as well. Then I follow a few people on LinkedIn. I really like Chris Orlob’s content. And we bought some of the master classes from him as well. That's Chris Orlob. Um, I, I read the, the content from another finance bro, the Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan Belfort. I was very highly suspicious. Uh, one of the reasons being that the guy is a convict and he did pretty, uh, illegal stuff. But his book is pretty cool. It's called, uh, The Way of the Wolf. And there's a ton of great learnings as well. And he has this kind of theory about how you want to work on your intonation and there's a lot to learn from this as well. Most of the time you don't take 100% of what the person says but take what you like and reintegrate it into your own framework. So that guy's good. Who else?

Alper Yurder: I think that's helpful, because I want to cover some other things before we...

Robin Choy: Yeah. Podcast. I also like to, yeah, another recommendation is the podcast called Acquired with a D and there is basically a strategy case study of an hour and a half on the company and you learn a ton about the company and how they eventually were successful. It's like Sales Therapy but with Warren Buffett instead of Robin Choy. Exactly.

Alper Yurder: Okay, sorry. Sorry for anyone being disappointed there. We'll get there. We'll get to Robin Warren Buffett. Excellent. So Robin, one thing before we wrap up. This exchange that we had just before Christmas about growth and like how founders are using LinkedIn to build their founder brand and content circulating, etc. And you and I had some contrary opinions, contrasting opinions that I thought LinkedIn algorithm was, or I was hearing that LinkedIn algorithm is not being just to a few people versus you were like, no, it's been great for me. Where do you want to pick that conversation from?

Robin Choy: Well, the point is that the algorithms will always be unfair to some people, I guess. Not so much the algorithm, but also the content that they put out. There is a lot of crappy content on LinkedIn, and if it doesn't get views, then it's the right thing. It's fair. I've heard about the algorithm changing time and time again. It's harder to get reach. And that's true to an extent but also the average quality of content increases. So people are more engaged with the content. So for me, I didn't notice a drop in the reach that I had over the last week. So I didn't notice it myself on my own content. And quite the contrary, I've seen LinkedIn be super, that's the one advice I would give to a founder today is invest in your leading brand because it will pay off big time over time. And I'm saying LinkedIn, but maybe it's LinkedIn today. Maybe it's a TikTok tomorrow, but invest in your social brand and create free content, think about what's the job to be done for your clients and help them solve this with different types of content, because they will be very grateful for this, you're helping them for free. And then when they're ready to buy, they'll buy from you and not your competitors because they know that they will hire your product to solve their jobs because they already hired some of your other products.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, social. Yeah. Hmm. Something I have in mind for that, for you specific, one specific question about that, like, I mean, you can write about anything, right? But how do you nail who your audience is and what you should talk about to them? How did you nail that?

Robin Choy: So yeah, invest in your brand. I think I nailed it. So I'm not even sure and it really nailed it. But what I've been trying to do is write consent that could be useful to me and or things I was surprised about or things that I learned. So typically sharing about books. You learn about a book and you can share it. It will be, if it was useful for you, it will be useful to others. Recently, for instance, on the Modern Recruiter, so the podcast, I've been interviewing much more founders of recruiting agencies because also that's my interest now. So I want to talk to them and understand what has been their experience. So in a lot of ways, I am the target audience as well, because I created a recruiting company and I'm in recruiting and I think about the future of recruiting, so anything that can help me progress towards that goal will be useful to me. So the answer is: Don't write content for the sake of writing content. Don't try and just be like, okay, I've been told I need to have a LinkedIn brand so I'm gonna share on LinkedIn and what I'm gonna do is talk only about my company, but rather think of it as another way to solve your client's problem, just a free trial, a way that's free, and that will drive people to your brand and to your content. And maybe this is what works, and maybe your product is not actually solving the problem, but you'll get there the product will change. If you talk to people that you want to help, you'll get there, the product will progress. So don't try and push the product because once it's really solving the problem, it's natural.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, I agree. I agree. Talking about products, like as I said, our relation came about because your team started using Flowla. Was it solving anything for you or is it still solving anything for you?

Robin Choy: Yeah, so the goal we use Flowla to create more engagement during the sales process and give more visibility to the clients as well So when you're on board in the marketplace and it really aligns with that idea of the job to be done When you're when you're selling a recruiting software What you're trying to do is you want to make sure that the person hires in the end it's the same if you sell a weight loss software, you wanna make sure that the person loses weight in the end. Most of the time it's not so much about the product, but also how to use it, and also what happens around the product. So if you have the weight loss software, you still have to go to the gym, you still have to eat healthy, you still have to do a lot of stuff. And for recruiting it's the same. If you wanna hire, you can have the best product in the world, you still have to be clear about who you're hiring for, what's your value proposition to them to be responsive, to be... So there is a part of coaching as well, because you're never just buying the product. And Flowla helped her do it, to have milestones and be like, okay, we're gonna speak a first time today, you're gonna tell me exactly, this is the information that I'm gonna need from you, and then here's what happens next, here's what happened next. And together, if you follow that recipe, we're getting closer to solving your job, which is to hire that software engineer that you'll be looking for three months.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, education, a lot of education. Yeah.

Robin Choy: Or hiring that CTO or hiring that person or, yeah. So that's how we use it.

Alper Yurder: I love that. In summary, it helps you to help your clients to help themselves. I think that's the summary I got from that. I love it. Okay, great. What's that?

Robin Choy: Yeah. But it's so important. It's so important that your clients are successful. And sometimes their success will be just, they still need to log into the product. So they have to think, anyway, yeah, back to you.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, I know. Any questions for me as we're coming to the closing remarks?

Robin Choy: Well, what book should I buy right away? Yeah. But what book would you recommend I buy?

Alper Yurder: You don't have to. What's that you already read. Oh, interesting I don't have the latest book that I've read. Anyway I'll recommend that one to you. You might have already read it. Okay so anybody looking at the screen How to Win Friends and Influence People? I haven't read it in a you know it's been there you know one of the top 20 books or whatever. I haven't because I always felt like okay you know what I already know that like I know how to influence people how to sell people.

Robin Choy: Oh yeah, already, already. It's a good one.

Alper Yurder: But I'm really enjoying that one at the moment. I've recently read also the Founder Brand book, Jesus, I forgot the exact name from, oh, this will sound terrible, Dave Gerhardt, I wouldn't say. Anyway, yeah, probably Bernhardt. Yeah, just before starting the podcast, I mean, a lot of the inspiration about starting the podcast came from him.

Robin Choy: Gerhardt, yeah, okay, found it on the, okay cool, I don't know this one, I'll buy it.

Alper Yurder: And from this guy I know who is smashing it, Javier, who has his own podcast. So it's a really, really practical and good book you should read. Although I, I butchered the name and the title there. Apologies for that. Excellent. Yeah. It is from the book. Yeah. Already.

Robin Choy: But it's fun to read. I bought it. Good. Yeah. On its way. Yeah, that's a great way to spend money. You hear about a book, you get it, and then you read, you skim through it, you learn through your stuff, and it's always worth the $10 that you pay for the book. This one is like nine bucks.

Alper Yurder: You're crazy. Wow. This is a skill I should learn from you. Okay. So before we go any… I mean, honestly, I think I might have slight ADHD, which I struggle with reading books lately. But that's again, this like from this conversation, I feel like, okay, this conversation should have been over way earlier due to our time limitations. But it was so enjoyable for me. I hope people will listen and enjoy. We've gone over like 10 minutes. So any closing remarks before we wrap up?

Robin Choy: Thanks for watching! No, I don't think I have any. Check out, I would say check out HireSweet, check out myself on LinkedIn. I post a lot on LinkedIn if you're interested in recruiting. Push my things. Leave reviews, like, leave good things about us. Say good things about us. Send us slides. Leave reviews on the Apple Podcast and Spotify. That's it for the closing remarks. 

Alper Yurder: That's a wrap on this episode of Sales Therapy. If you enjoy the show, subscribe to us on YouTube, on your favorite podcast platform. I'm your host, Alper Yurder, and this was Sales Therapy with Robin Choy.

Don't miss a single episode.
Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest on Sales Therapy.
Subscribe to Sales Therapy on:
Spotify logo.
Apple Podcasts logo.
Apple Podcasts
YouTube logo.