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Briah Handa-Oakley05.11.20215 min read

From Coffee Seller to Tech Sales Expert

Finding the right talent for a job is no easy task, especially when you don’t know what the talent you are looking for is. 

Companies are faced with the constant pressure to find top talents, while up-skilling their workforce. In fact, global research from a panel of thousands of executives and managers revealed that closing skills gaps has become a higher priority since the pandemic began, and fifty-nine percent said their companies engage in more skill building than they did pre-crisis.

Luckily, the world is witnessing a truly disruptive but exhilarating revolution. Technologies are advancing and new strategies are getting adopted, which is not only changing the way we interact, communicate, the way we buy things or the way we drive. Leading tech innovations such as artificial intelligence are changing the hiring scene, helping organizations train their workforce effectively, gain more insights into their employees.

So how can companies gain insight into why their top performers perform, using technology? How can they integrate technology to identify talent among candidates, and ultimately gain edge on rivals? 

We spoke to one of our clients, Mark Gray, Director of People at Proper, about how his team uses Retorio to identify top talent within his salesforce, and in turn understand what skills to look for in future candidates. 


How did you get started using Retorio, and what was your initial goal?

Mark Gray: The big focus for us was sales hiring. We needed to identify a good salesperson - and that is not an easy task. 

There is a lot of literature on what makes a good salesforce, so we started testing candidates. Basically the lightbulb moment was when we realized that we had no idea why our best people are even good - and why our ‘not so good’ people are not so good.

So that's when we thought, why don’t we benchmark one of the internal sales teams? In order to try and get an understanding of what a good salesperson looks like, from a personality perspective, from cultural perspective…how do these people fit into the company culture, and how does that have an impact on performance? And that’s when we started to play around with some ideas. I reached out to the sales organization and basically told them that we want to understand what makes you, you. And in turn, how we can look for that in future hires. 


How did Retorio’s AI help you and your sales team?

Mark Gray: We got our sales team to conduct an internal survey and we got them to use Retorio. Sure enough, some of the results we got were really very interesting - and you could quite clearly see a very clear correlation for us to build benchmarks on. This was ultimately an “ah-hah” moment for us and we realized that there is indeed validity to the results we were seeing. It’s now another tool that we can now use to gain further insight into our hires. 


Where there any surprising or unexpected findings after using Retorio with your team?

Mark Gray: As a matter of fact, we were able to debunk a lot of myths about what makes a successful sales rep. After we conducted our internal survey with Retorio, we then benchmarked our results against company culture. One thing we noticed from this which was really interesting was we actually saw that the old saying of ‘sales people are hyper competitive’ was basically debunked. Our higher performing sales reps actually were a lot less competitive than the other sales reps. The moral of the story for us was that a lot of these ‘myths’ or stereotypes don’t hold true.


People first (11)


What has changed for you and your team now when looking for new hires?

Mark Gray: What I see a lot in job specs is that companies are out looking for, as an example, someone who has previously worked in the industry in which the job offering is in. You often see in the description 'must have worked in the tech space before' etc.

What we learnt is that industry experience doesn't necessarily mean they will outperform the other workers. We are a property tech company, but when we look at the results from the surveys we conducted, we realised that our top three sales people from one of our teams never worked in tech. In fact, they had never worked in the vertical we were working in.

So what we decided at Proper is that we aren’t going to poach other tech people, because everyone is trying to get them. You are competing with tens of hundreds of other companies, who have bigger packages, can pay more, etc. We can’t compete with them, nor should we. We started to think outside of the box. Well, what other industries have salespeople? Every industry. Recently we hired a guy who was selling coffee machines for the last forty years, which is not something you’d usually think to go for. But the personality traits that we found in this person fitted into the culture at Proper, and we had a pretty reliable prediction that this person should succeed. 

Training Simulation

It becomes clear that in order for an organization to successfully grow and excel, they need to excel in the areas of attracting and developing its people, investing in the right capabilities for its goals, and designing its organizations for speed and innovation. 

As technological advancements take the world by storm, companies are recognizing the huge potential it holds for them too. Those companies which are adapting their methods as new technologies evolve will be able to stay ahead of their competition—those who don’t fear falling behind. 

Retorio's Isolateral screens on the right side that showing training scenarios left side Sales training ultimate guide cta

Finding the right talent is certainly no easy task for any workplace to accomplish. Thankfully, artificial intelligence platforms such as Retorio are paving the way in finding success patterns within existing teams, to understand what top talent looks like.

As the AI industry develops, there is an increasing likelihood that more and more companies will leverage the benefits of AI to attract and develop their workforce and gain a crucial competitive edge. 

If you'd like to see how Retorio can help organizations identify top talents and success patterns within a workforce, you can try out the AI for yourself by clicking below. 


Briah Handa-Oakley

Conducting in-depth content strategy at the intersection between artificial intelligence and L&D. I cover emerging technology and the latest advancements in AI technology and ultimately fuse technical knowledge with storytelling skills.