HR professionals

Cross cultural mix – a few steps towards hiring a trilingual inside sales representative for an IT company.

2020-05-26
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Case Study: Inside Sales (Business Development Representative), Paris, France 

Time for Business to Get Digital

The client, Ibexa, is a global IT Digital Experience Platform (DXP) provider that helps organizations digitalize their business processes, maximize the value of their content and deliver superior customer experiences. Its technology is spread across the globe with offices in Norway (HQ), Germany, France, Poland, Spain, the UK, the USA and Japan. 

As a long-time recruitment partner, HR Contact has already supported Ibexa with targeting the best talents tailored for their needs such as: Technical Product Manager (PL), Technical Writer (PL), Product Marketing Manager (Norway), VP Product Support (PL), Product Support Specialist (France), Inside Sales (Norway), Dynamics 365 Specialist (Germany). After several completed projects in Poland, Norway, France and Germany, it trusted us again and approached us with an equally interesting new challenge.

In early 2020, Ibexa hired new Partner Managers in the UK and Spain as it looked to expand its business in both countries. The company had a very clearly defined vision and profile of the person that would help them accelerate further development of its enterprise DXP and expand its customer base. It needed an expert to come on board to find new business and tap these new markets and generate qualified leads.

The Challenge

While the company’s team is scattered around the globe, most of its sales operations are run from the Paris office. As the position of the Inside Sales was crucial in building its new market presence, the company wanted the role to be located in France, so the newcomer could get to know its culture, business approach and sales methodology and processes.

The trick was to find the person who was a Spanish native speaker who also knows the specifics of the market. Additionally, the right person would speak French and English, and is an experienced Inside Sales expert within the broader e-commerce sector. Moreover, the company sought a very resourceful self-starter, who can work independently to build long-lasting relationships with end users. The challenge we faced was to find a trilingual individual with a customer-facing experience from the e-commerce sector to join the company and fulfill these requirements. We had other considerations to add to the mix too - would a spontaneous and expressive southern temper communicate well with the British – famed for their reserve,  politeness  and stoic calm?

The Sherlock Holmes of Recruitment

While working together on the previous recruitment projects, we formed a partnership and developed an effective model of cooperation. First, we took the time to understand what the VP of HR and Director of Business Development wanted to achieve by bringing on a new team member. During a thorough briefing session, together we built a candidate persona, determining the core competences and the right team fit.

After an insightful discussion, we had a clear understanding of whom we would need to look for. We created a recruitment strategy with the focus on the key indicators which were required to filter the right candidate such as: experience in generating, prospecting and qualifying leads from an IT e-commerce area, as well as strong phone presence and good written communication skills in Spanish, English and French. With our knowledge and experience, we used a wide range of tools and networks to provide Ibexa with a shortlist of qualified candidates. Our search methods included strategic advertising, direct headhunting, team sourcing activities and network recommendations.

Sourcing the candidates with the right skill was not easy, but the real challenge was to break through and engage potential candidates in conversation. The question was how to creatively approach such communication. We came up with the idea of approaching several Facebook groups, but the one called ‘Spaniards in Paris’ ended up as the most effectiveWhile none of us spoke fluent Spanish, we decided to dust off our language skills and break the ice with messages starting with Hola and Como estas?  We contacted Spanish people who live in France using their native language and this approach worked well. Although some were not interested, others were indeed entertained by our “imperfect language”. This was the engagement and attention we were looking for and more to the point, we ended up with some great recommendations of candidates.

We designed the interview process, so it would not only help us evaluate the sales know-how and experience, but also the personality and flexibility in the communication of the candidates. After all, the new person had to be able to handle not only the Spanish culture, but also the English business approach. 

In a nutshell:

  • We reached out to 100 candidates
  • We had 12 screening calls
  • Qualified six for full interviews
  • Shared the shortlist of three recommendations
  • One hire within two weeks: from the briefing to recommending the successful candidate


Success achieved

The outcome for Ibexa has been great. The company now has a culture-fit and skilled sales representative who is a team player with a Spanish background. Our success comes from ensuring the satisfaction of both parties: the candidate and the client. It is essential for us to focus on getting to know the candidates and hiring the right person. Our team promotes your roles to the best candidates in the market.

Jean-Claude Pitcho, Head of Business Development, Ibexa about cooperation with the HR Contact team: "I really appreciated the listening skills and the emphatic mindset displayed by HR Contact. They were vastly more developed with their team than with other agencies I've met. I find this is critical to the success of such multi-cultural hiring when the agency has no choice but to operate both internationally and remotely."

Author: Anna Drzał

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