Every quarter we run an informal dinner bringing together 12 to 15 sales leaders to openly discuss their challenges and share their best practice and industry trends with their peers in a relaxed environment over some nice food and wine. Here’s a roundup of key discussions:

Brexit has not impacted on recruitment activity

It was inevitable that the conversation would turn to Brexit at some point during the evening. Whilst there was uncertainty following the Brexit vote, everyone in the room felt positive about recruitment activity in the months ahead – everyone was very much still competing in the talent pool. An interesting point raised was that it was often peoples international colleagues that had greater concerns.

London is a magnet for ambitious talent

One issue discussed was the difficulty of recruiting in the home counties. It seemed that having London on the doorstep was drawing talent away, particularly during the early phases of people’s careers. Recruitment and retention in London remained a big challenge. What regional differences have you identified?

Companies are having to sell themselves more than ever

In a bid to attract top talent, a number of guests around the table were working hard at selling themselves more to candidates. One company is opening their doors for a morning to encourage candidates to visit and get a ‘feel’ for what it’s like to work there. Others were improving their online perception through social media sites like Glassdoor and their own career pages. Almost all are conscious of the ‘candidate experience’ through the interview process but don’t really have a lot of insight into how effective it is. How effective is your company at selling itself to candidates?

Others were improving their online perception through social media sites like Glassdoor and their own career pages

Hiring graduates can really boost team spirit

The conversation began around workplace longevity and how it has its benefits but it isn’t always a good thing. Teams can grow stale, lack motivation and develop cliques but hiring a graduate or two can really help inject enthusiasm, passion and drive back into a team which overall has a big impact on performance. How has hiring graduates enhanced your teams’ performance?

Aptitude and psychometric testing in question

Whilst many guests used these as part of their recruitment process some found it restrictive – straight passes or fails often meant good talent was being pulled from the process too early. Whilst they could be used to understand certain skills, they can’t highlight someone’s interest and enthusiasm for the role. Everyone agreed they should be used as a guide. How do tests fit into your recruitment process?

Technology is an important part of the sales process

Benefits discussed included providing visibility to management, identifying performance issues within the team and creating new segments for cross selling opportunities. Many guests were considering new CRM products and automation processes to drive productivity. There was also a general acceptance of data quality being an issue and for a few around the table and within their own organisation a skills gap that needed to be addressed.

The growing importance of sales operations

Sales operations covers so many areas – onboarding, system support, database analytics and KPI reporting – and we discussed the growing need to support senior sale managers but also pull together threads from other functions such as HR and Marketing. There was a growing recognition of the importance of the role and the benefits it can bring including greater productivity, visibility and integration. Where does sales operations sit within your company?