While unemployment levels rose amid the spread of the global Covid-19 pandemic and employment norms and cultures changed, it set a new course for businesses. As companies adjust to the new normal, and hiring picks up pace again, there will be more focus on acquiring quality talent regardless of physical location because remote work will become a more adoptable and convenient concept. Noel Hillman, Chief Revenue Officer at Spur sits down for a quick chat in this TecHRseries to discuss a few thoughts on workplace trends and HR practices that will be transformed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tell us a little about yourself Noel…as a revenue / sales leader- what are the biggest lessons/takeaways you’ve come across over the years…that you’d like to share with us today?
I have an odd background for a revenue leader. I spent a good chunk of my career in corporate finance doing everything from planning and analysis, capital management, mergers and acquisitions to pricing and supporting sales and marketing. I moved into a sales operations role, and that’s how I started down the path of revenue leader. I also have a broad background in multiple industries, having worked in big box retail, consumer products, software, telco, and most recently in FinTech. I joined Spur in March this year, and have enjoyed being a part of this company and industry during a very transitional time for our economy.
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I think one of the biggest takeaways I have come across over the years is how the role of a revenue leader has evolved from being primarily relationship-based to being data-driven. Revenue tech stacks center on data, measuring performance and controlling variability. Revenue leaders who rely on handshakes are a thing of the past. Today’s revenue leaders must have analytic chops to succeed. This also applies to how sales and marketing work together. Not long ago, these were functions that didn’t always align well. Each took credit for success and pointed fingers for lack of performance. Today, it is more likely that sales and marketing work collaboratively and their functions are viewed as one organization vs. separate functions. Data is king, and they are both very metric based. Spur’s marketing partner, Levelwing, has not only helped facilitate our sales and marketing partnership, but enhanced the data we have regarding our revenue cycle.
Tell us a little about Spur…what are the key changes to processes, methodologies given the Covid19 situation that you’ll have had to address as a team?
Spur is an all-in-one, low cost, full-featured human capital platform that helps businesses save time and money while improving the quality of life for their hourly employees. Spur’s mission is to propel the potential of hard working people by improving financial well-being for workers, while saving their employers time and money. In 2019, Spur had the largest Series A fund raise ever in the state of Alabama.
Spur is like every other company in the world, and has had to adjust in many ways because of COVID-19 . Working remotely, figuring out how to stay connected, quickly finding the mute button to hide dogs barking or construction work in the background…. It has all been very interesting.
From a mission and market perspective, we believe that our focus has moved to the forefront of what is and will continue to be important going forward. The events of 2020 have brought the disparity of financial well-being in the United States to center stage. Hourly, service jobs have been the most impacted by COVID-19; Income inequality is at an all time high; and the financial system has struggled to meet the demands of hard working people: 40% of hourly workers are underbanked and nearly 1/3 of Americans are underinsured. Spur’s focus is on providing products that address this disparity and enable workplaces to save time and money. As a team we are focused on getting our product in the hands of people that need it the most as quickly as possible.
How has approaching sales in HR Tech during the Covid19 pandemic changed for you?
It has solidified that being mission focused is more important than ever. Working for a mission-based organization is most invigorating when that mission is put to the test. HR tech has enabled the workforce to stay working where and when they are able; it has enabled connection between employees and workplaces when it’s not physically possible, and has allowed workplaces to support their employees during the most difficult and uncertain times we have faced in recent memory. I’m proud to be selling a product that is part of making things better for everyone.
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As the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic play out over the next few months, how do you feel the HR tech segment will adapt / change? What are some of the latest innovations being worked on within HR Tech to address current and short-term issues related to Covid19?
I think the HR tech segment has had to make major adaptations over the last few months. The legislation passed to help employees and workplaces get through this time has forced HR Tech to adapt quickly. All of the expanded benefits, tax laws and lending mechanisms had to be interpreted, scoped, and built into HR tech platforms. Reporting and guidance had to be provided to customers so they could participate in these programs effectively. It was a monumental task but one well worth the effort.
On the innovation front, I think HR tech will need to adapt to what I believe will continue to be a decentralized workforce. We can’t assume that all of our employees will be in one or more buildings going forward, so our tools and processes need to enable workplace flexibility for when they aren’t onsite and safety for when they are. At Spur, our platform is paperless as well as cloud-based for workplaces, and mobile-first for workers. I think you will continue to see innovation on this front.
How do you see this pandemic impact the global talent and work marketplace in tech / B2B?
I think the primary impact is the corporate comfort level to hire outside of its physical locations. It is heartbreaking to see the unemployment rates at current levels, but as the economy roars back, I think it will be interesting to see how finding the right talent, regardless of location, will become a common practice for most companies. From a talent perspective, I think people who have not previously worked remotely have discovered how to be productive outside of the office, which will open their eyes to remote work opportunities outside of where they live. I have hired people over the last few months that are well outside of Spur’s physical locations.
As this happens, it will be imperative that companies figure out a way to build a strong culture outside of their physical walls. I miss Spur’s office environment because of the people, connections and shared experiences. I think we have done a tremendous job of finding ways to hold on our culture in a remote environment.
A few general thoughts / tips for businesses worldwide dealing with the current world pandemic?
My favorite quote is one by Martin Luther King Jr. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.” We are definitely in challenging times, and I think that focusing on the things that matter; our customers and our people, will propel us through this as a business. It is interesting to look back at successful companies that started during a recession, downturn, or time of crisis. We should use this time as an opportunity to innovate and not pull-back, because there will be, without a doubt, new market leaders that evolve out of this challenging time.