Tales from the Field: The Matt Stager Story

We live in a recruiting world where for some strange reason the experience of the people we work so very hard to engage with in the first place are often treated poorly. It’s very common for recruiters to give the majority of their attention to their clients and even that’s a stretch in many cases. The pressure they feel or the numbers game they play to recruit people that will “stick” is so intense, they often forget the task at hand—making meaningful connections.


Through my time in and around sales, HRTech, startups and recruiting, I’ve seen the prevalence of this phenomenon time and time again. Luckily, all of this exposure has equipped me with the knowledge I need to make sure it’s not a mistake that I make. Balancing the needs of both parties’ isn’t always easy, but it’s absolutely worth the extra work.


Recently, we were able to walk the fine line between managing the needs of two important parties when we worked with Matt Stager. I’m proud to say, Debbie (my partner in crime/peanut butter to my jelly) and I were able to help Matt make a change in his career by connecting him to a company that was a great fit for his goals, and vice versa. Curious to know how this magic happened? Read on…


People Matter…ALWAYS


If you had to describe salespeople, what would you say about them? Unfortunately, many would answer this question with words like “manipulative” or “self-serving.” It pains me to think about this stereotype and I work hard every…single…day to try to illustrate the opposite.


If you’ve been reading my content, you know I’ve dedicated my career to sales and I’ve made it my mission to prove that salespeople (and recruiters) can actually be the exact opposite of the stereotypes that persist. More specifically, I strive to practice subtle selling methods in an attempt to show that salespeople don’t have to utilize high-pressure, baseless tactics to find success.


One of the main ways I’ve realized success is through a people-centric approach with a strong curiosity to genuinely get to know folks in my marketplace regardless of immediate opportunity. Leading with a humble, helpful foot is my credo and anything else just feels “icky”. Often, these relationships don’t directly or immediately benefit me, but I appreciate them and hold them in high regard as they help me to learn and grow to pave a fruitful path for future meaningful business opportunities.


Let’s not forget that sales and recruiting are driven by people, it amazes me how so many people lose sight of this. It’s beyond important to reach out to people and communicate with them authentically and organically because it helps to understand more about their wants and needs. Specifically for me, the more I know, the better I can serve anyone involved to connect the “dots”. Understanding the commonalities helps me help everyone involved in a dramatically different way versus the “spaghetti against the wall” approach.


In Matt’s case, we got to know each other because we had a shared background in HRTech and a ton of common ground. I sent him a personalized note on LinkedIn in hopes of connecting to build the “foundation”, and to my delight he quickly responded. We then spent a lot of time uncovering what was important to Matt, what his next step would need to look like, lessons learned along with the business problems he was solving in his daily sales life. I quickly realized he was a gem and would be a great match for the kinds of clients Debbie and I work with.


Matt’s perspective on our newfound association, “I initially took the call because of Amy’s professional approach/soft touch…she was very thorough in understanding and communicating client needs and understanding my background and personal situation…”


Considering the Needs of The Client


Now, I could write this entire post about Matt, but he’s so humble, a post dedicated solely to him wouldn’t quite be his style. As such, I’d like to step away from Matt’s story for a minute to delve into one of the topics highlighted above—assessing the needs of the client.


Early on in my sales career, I received a piece of advice that I’ve held near and dear ever since… Do onto others as you would have them do onto you. I see this principle ignored time and time again by BOTH employers and recruiters, which has made me more passionate about upholding it myself and one of the main reasons I started Avenue Talent Partners.


When Debbie and I hold ourselves to the standards outlined in this ethical concept, I find that we treat each and every one of our clients with more professionalism and empathy ultimately delivering stronger results because we genuinely care and have taken the time to create an action-plan for success. This might sound silly to some, but focusing on these “things” allows us to find well-suited clients that we’re proud to represent, and empathy allows us to ensure said individual will also fit in to do significant business. Ultimately, applying this mindset allows us to walk a mile in our customer’s shoes so we can really get to the root of what it is that they want and need.


Assessing a Person for “Fit”   


As I’ve often said, recruiters place too much of their focus on the needs of their client, the “numbers game” or the shiny dollar signs associated. When this happens, it’s more likely that the “submitted candidates” will not be right for the role and have not been handled with the proper care to ensure the best matches are made.


Here’s an example I hear about daily: a recruiter works with Company A to find a candidate for a high-level enterprise sales role. They select a candidate that checks off most of the “boxes” on paper that showed well in person, and they ultimately end up filling the role. Shortly after onboarding, however, the person placed finds that they made a mistake. Ugh, what a terrible realization!


Although the work is compelling and well within their wheelhouse, the culture of the company is not conducive to their happiness. Their co-workers often hold binge drinking social events where the sales leader frowns upon those that don’t participate, but the new addition to the team doesn’t drink much and wakes up at the crack of dawn to get in a power workout.


In this example, the recruiter chose poorly because they were too focused on the needs of the client or didn’t take the time to understand what the team dynamics really looked like along with what was important to the person they placed. Paying more attention to the details and having a constant line of communication with all parties involved to uncover important details, they would’ve been able to gather that the culture at Company A wouldn’t be suitable for the needs of the prospect, even though they were well-matched for the job on paper.


Now that we’ve covered some of the important elements on the client side, let’s get back to Matt’s story, shall we? The more we got to know Matt, the more evident it became that he was ready for a bit of a change… He had a ton of success in the world of HRTech and SaaS, but he was ready for something different, challenging in a new way, potentially outside of the industry.


Because we took the time to truly understand the needs of our client coupled with the relationship created with Matt, we were able to make the connection with confidence to “connect the dots” in a consequential way. There was a lot of overlap between the client’s objectives and where Matt wanted to move his career/what he brought to the table, and we were thrilled about the opportunity to make the introduction.


Today, Matt is about two months into his new role, and is happy to report that he’s “off to a quick start in being engaged in several opportunities.” He also mentioned that the fit between him and his new company is being reinforced daily—something that Avenue Talent Partners strives to achieve with everyone we work with.


Tying it all together, the client feels the same and is thrilled with their choice #winwin


A Worthwhile Balancing Act


Finding the right person for the task at hand on behalf of our clients is no joke. To complicate matters and up the stress ante, finding the right “home” for a talented person is of equal importance. At the end of the day success will come down to how well the gap between a client’s needs and the candidate’s needs is bridged from all sorts of different angles (not just the “boxes” you check off on paper).


Now it’s time for you to weigh in… How are you bridging these gaps? What’s your philosophy on sales hiring success? What’s your favorite recruiting success story?


If you are interested in hearing more about Matt’s story, looking to get your hands on the cream of the sales “crop” or if you’re looking for the “missing piece” to your sales career, my hotline is on and welcome the chance to connect.


As always, thanks for reading!


-Amy V.