HelloDone.ai (previously known as Dazzle.ai) is a London-based startup that automates conversations across messaging apps and voice assistants for the Home Delivery, Transportation, and Utility sectors. They’ve recently raised £2.3mn. We caught up with Frédéric Menting, Head of BD at HelloDone.ai about what it’s like to be a sales leader in an early-stage startup, the pros and cons of working in tech sales, and how the industry has changed during COVID-19.
KANDIDATE: Tell us about your journey getting into Tech Sales
While I was in the university, a couple of my friends were already working in flexible sales associate roles, very similar to BDR/SDR, for the fitness management software company, Mindbody.
One of my friends really enjoyed it, and he got me an interview as I needed something to finance my studies. I joined Mindbody as a full-time sales rep as soon as I graduated.
Then, I made a bit of an odd career move whilst visiting a friend in Rome. He was working as a consultant at PwC, and they were looking for somebody with a similar profile. I spoke a bit of Italian, so I’ve done a spontaneous job interview and then moved back to Rome. I did that for a year, but then I realized that I really missed the dynamics of working in tech.
I’m much more of a people person than a computer person, and I really wanted to go back into sales. So I’ve actually moved back to London and rejoined Mindbody for a short period, before starting with Samsara. After that, Giorgio (K: Giorgio Benazzo, Talent Partner at Kandidate) reached out regarding the role at HelloDone.ai.
K: Tell us about your role at HelloDone.ai. Where does your role sit within the organization?
As the first salesperson in the company I’m responsible for all things Business Development and Sales. On the other hand, I also manage initiatives across Marketing and Partnerships. It’s quite a hybrid role, in a small startup people tend to wear lots of hats.
As the first salesperson in the company, I’m responsible for all things Business Development and Sales. I also manage initiatives across Marketing and Partnerships. It’s quite a hybrid role, in a small startup people tend to wear lots of hats.
Along with my responsibilities in Sales, I’m working with an external marketer on creating our marketing messaging because we don’t have a marketing team yet.
Additionally, I’m responsible for creating partnerships with other tech companies that service the same industries. We work together with them on creating joint propositions, specifically in the Retail sector.
It’s not like the typical Sales role, but that’s precisely what I like about it.
K: What are some trends that you see in your industry since the pandemic started?
In terms of the prospect industries, everything has moved to home deliveries which is really good for us.
We focus on the post-purchase experience, everything that happens from the checkout until customers actually received their goods. Now, a lot of retailers are looking for new ways of engaging with customers, and that’s where we come in.
On the other hand, things have been slow for everyone. It’s an unprecedented situation, and nobody is in a buying friendly mood right now.
K: How has your typical working day changed since the pandemic started?
We’ve always had a stand-up meeting to kick off the day, at 9:30 a.m. Since we don’t have to travel to the office right now, we’ve tightened that down so every day starts at 9 a.m.
Because we don’t see each other all the time, we’ve made stand-ups mandatory for everyone to keep the communication going. We’ve also introduced afternoon stand-ups.
We spend a lot more time on virtual meetings, but at the same time, everyone on the team has become more independent now. Working from home has been quite an adaptation. We actually got rid of our office for now, and in the long run, we won’t really be going back to the office, which is going to be quite interesting.
K: What helps you stay productive while working at home?
I’ve always cycled to work, but I haven’t really worked out for a while. As the lockdown started, I started running and working out, sometimes in the morning.
Now we’ve got a lot of time back, and I feel like that really helps with productivity and motivation. HelloDone has funded my home office setup, so I got myself a standing desk. These things give me energy, help to discipline the body and mind.
I live with housemates, so I have this social aspect like in the office, taking breaks to speak to people and get away from the screen.
K: You’ve previously worked at Samsara, which is a 1,500+ people company. How does your experience of working at a bigger company compare with working at a startup like HelloDone.ai?
The biggest difference for me personally, and ultimately also the reason why I have moved to HelloDone.ai is that it is a lot more dynamic and there is a lot more responsibility on one person.
If you’re in a smaller software company, essentially what you’re selling can change every day. You’re constantly refining your offering depending on what the product team develops or what you hear from customers.
At HelloDone, I am involved in so many aspects of the business. It’s not just typical sales tasks, like cold calls, emails or LinkedIn outreach. I get to contribute to our business strategy. In a larger organization like Samsara, your role, what you’re selling and how you sell it are pre-defined. Whereas in my current role, I have a lot more freedom.
In a larger organization, like Samsara, your role, what you’re selling and how you sell it are pre-defined. Whereas in my current role, I have a lot more freedom.
It’s really exciting that I get to work directly with the CEO, the COO and everybody else in the company. I get a lot more insight into the different functions of the business like speaking to the engineering team, which I wasn’t really able to do at Samsara because it wasn’t part of my role.
K: What are the main reasons for someone to get into Tech Sales?
Tech sector is changing super quickly, so you never get bored. Tech companies are famous for offering great perks as well. It’s not the typical ‘nine to five’ atmosphere, it’s a lot more flexible.
You learn a lot about the companies that you work with, which is great if you’re a people person who has a natural curiosity and enjoys speaking with people. In tech sales, in particular, you’re not just selling a product, but a solution. What you’re selling is only as good as the problems that you can solve with it. So, in a way you’re entering a much deeper relationship with the customers because it’s around understanding their business. You can have a direct impact on your customer’s company, which is really exciting.
In Tech Sales, you’re entering a much deeper relationship with the customers because it’s around understanding their business. You can have a direct impact on your customer’s company, which is really exciting.
Essentially, you’re the eyes and the ears of the organization because you’re the first one to speak to the customers. You bring back the innovation to the technical side of your own business because you know what customers want, what they need, and then you can feed that back to your product and development team.
K: What are some of the disadvantages of working in Tech Sales?
It’s a performance-based profession, everything is tied to your commission. In some companies, you are being monitored based on the numbers of calls and emails that you send out. This can come with a lot of pressure. I thrive under pressure, but for other people, that’s definitely a consideration to take into account.
There are also companies like HelloDone, where I’m the only salesperson right now so it’s more relaxed. On the other hand, I make myself pressure because I want to get as much done as possible and get us clients.
Since your sales quota is assigned to you, in some companies, taking vacations longer than one-two weeks is not possible because they expect you to hit your monthly or quarterly quota.
And then obviously you get tons of noes, which I have forgotten to mention because that’s so much part of my day as anything else.
K: According to you, what is the most frustrating thing about job search from a candidate’s perspective?
My experience was really good with Giorgio (K: Giorgio Benazzo, Talent Partner at Kandidate). With other companies what I find is that recruiters a lot of times forget to keep track of the candidates that go through the recruitment process because the amount of candidates is very high. Something that is a very personal experience gets very impersonal from the other side.
A lot of times, recruiters forget to keep track of the candidates that go through the recruitment process because the amount of candidates is very high. Something that is a very personal experience gets very impersonal from the other side.
In the past, it’s been quite frustrating when you cannot hear back from the recruiter immediately. With Giorgio, he immediately followed up with me, responded to all my messages, and he would ask HelloDone for me a lot of the things that I thought I would have had to ask on my own.
What I’ve also experienced is that recruiters focus on offering you roles that they have available, not necessarily the role that you want. I’ve worked with the agency in the past, who were proposing me jobs that didn’t really match my expectations. At that moment, I wanted a new job, so I took the interviews, but that wasn’t a great experience.
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