Using HubSpot to Manage Your Job Search Part III

In the most recent installment of this blog series, I walked you through an example of an interaction I had with a company last summer and wrote about some of the HubSpot tools and features that I was able to leverage at the beginning phases of my job search. In this installment, I wanted to dive deeper into that process and talk about the tool I found to be the most valuable in managing my job search from a CRM.

Let’s jump back in!

So when we left off, I had gone through an initial phone screen, which naturally transitions into an email follow-up. This is where the most important feature of using a CRM to manage your job search comes into play.

HubSpot gives you the ability to log all of the emails that you send into the CRM and track them. Tracking them gives you a window of insight into what is happening (or what is not happening) to your emails after you send them.

For example, from the first example above, the email that I sent to the company above ended up in a thread and was opened a total of 21 times. As a candidate, this is a really good sign. You can make the reasonable assumption that if your emails are being opened that many times, there is some level of interest on the part of the recipient un you as a candidate.

Moreover, the second photo shows that after my email was sent, it was opened six minutes after it was received and it was opened again the following morning at 8:29 AM. This is another really positive sign.

The key takeaway is this: you want to stay as close as you can to the positions that are reciprocating interest in you, and as far away as you can from the ones that are not.

Here was a tactic that I would deploy when I came across a position that I was interested in: after submitting an application through the company website, I would do some investigation and find someone at the company (a recruiter in HR would be the best person) and send that person an email. Make sure that you take advantage of HubSpot’s email open tracking so you get the data that you need to optimize your search.

From there, the onus is on you to knock their socks off with a killer interview experience. When you do so, you have to swim against the current. Don’t take anything for granted, and make sure you do your homework and come prepared to wow and delight your audience.

Do you have any other questions about this blog series, or anything else related to sales or sales management? I’d love to help. Drop me a comment, fill out the contact form on my website, or shoot me an email. I’d love to help!

Using HubSpot to Manage Your Job Search Part II

In part I of this series, I discussed the concept of using a CRM to manage your job search process, and laid out the deal stages that I customized to navigate the sales (or job search) process. Here is part II, we are going to take a closer look at an example from my search in 2019 and the features in HubSpot’s CRM that I was able to use to optimize my process.

Let’s dive in!

My Dashboard

So there are a few things going on here that I would like to point out. First, in the Team Activity section, your able to view a snapshot of some of the communication that was flowing between myself and a few of the companies that I was looking into working for. We’ll talk more about email tracking and the BIG advantage that gives you as a job seeker in the future.

The one other thing that I would like to point out here is that a job search, much like sales, is a numbers game. From my dashboard, I was very easily able to view my production levels and set some goals for myself on the numbers of contacts that I added to the CRM, as well as some activity based goals on the number of emails that I wanted to send, calls I wanted to make, tasks I wanted to complete, etc.

However, where I spent the majority of my time and attention during my search process was on the individual contacts associated with the companies and jobs that I was most interested in. I am going to take you through an interaction that I had with a company that ultimately I ended up not selecting, in a city (Austin, Texas) that I was strongly considering relocating to.

Ok there is a lot going on here, but as you might be able to surmise, I applied for an SDR Manager position with this company that I found on LinkedIn (pro tip: LinkedIn is the best source to locate jobs directly from companies). And not long after I applied, I was contacted by a recruiter at the company who wanted to speak with me. BOOM!

Whenever that happened, I created a new deal (or job) in the CRM and, once the interview was scheduled, I staged that job accordingly. That looked something like this:

You tracking with me so far? Awesome. Moving on…

One thing that I always did before an interview (or phone interview) was do some research on the person that I was going to speak with and add those as notes to the CRM. In addition to that, I added a linked to their LinkedIn profile incase I need to reference that again in the future.

Additionally, anytime that I had a conversation with a recruiter, I logged all of the important information associated with that position I learned during the call, as well as what the action step (or next step) was from there.

So there you have part II. We are now past the initial interview and into the portion of the process where things can really accelerate.

Coming up in part III, I’ll show you what I consider to be the most valuable feature in managing your job search through HubSpot, and how you can make some reasonable assumptions on the interest level of the company based upon the engagement and activity you are viewing with your emails.

Do you have any questions? Feel free to comment below or send me an email to nathan.bliss.nb@gmail.com. I’d love to help!

Using HubSpot to Manage Your Job Search Part I

At some point in your career, your are going to be looking for your next job. It is an inevitability. There are a million blogs and posts on this subject and what to do.

This blog post is not about what to do.

It is about how to do it.

You see, in the summer of 2019, I was at a moment in my career where I was looking for my next position, and I had a pretty clear vision for what I was looking for in my next job. But as I first started to launch into the search process, I started to grow frustrated with not having line of sight into the recruiters and hiring managers that were most interested in me. My thought was: if I could spend more time on the jobs and recruiters that were most interested in me, I could maximize the time that I spent in my job search on the positions I was most interested in and that I was most likely to land.

So I decided to sign up for a free version of HubSpot to manage my career search, and run the process like I was trying to make a sale.

You see, in sales, the CRM is the tool that you use to manage the entire process. And, unlike in sales, I didn’t have to make a monthly or quarterly quota in my job search.

I just had to make one “sale”.

So I decided to set the “deal stages” (aka the job search stages) up like this:

What was my thought process with each process stage? Here is how I defined each one:

  • Job Prospects – when I came across a position on a job board, or when I networked with someone that let me know about a position, I would apply for the job and create a new deal in HubSpot and name the deal whatever the job title was.
  • Recruiter Activated – these were the jobs where an action was taken on behalf of the company. Most often, that came from (or comes from) a recruiter in HR. Once there was clear interest on the part of the company and they reached out to me about scheduling a first interview for a position (which is most often a phone screen), I would update the deal stage of the job accordingly.
  • Interview Scheduled – Once the back and forth process of with the recruiter was complete, and we had an interview on the calendar, I would move the deals (or jobs) to this stage. Once this conversation was completed, I would try and have clarity not only on the title of the role and the role itself, but also on the expected salary or OTE (on-target earnings).
  • 2nd Interview – This deal/job stage is exactly like it sounds. If I made it past the initial phone screen and onto a 2nd interview with a hiring manager (or decision maker like in the sales process), once that conversation was scheduled, I would move the deal (or job) to this stage.
  • Onsite Interview – Most often, companies are going to bring you in for some sort of onsite/final interview. That could be in the form of a 2nd interview, but that all depends on the type of role that you are searching for. Because most of the jobs I were looking for were at the management level or above, and in another state (Texas), I decided to separate this stage of the process out.
  • Negotiating Offer – If I got this far down into the process, by now I should definitely have a clear picture of the offer, expected close date (or start date for the position), and all of the other information that was necessary to make a decision on the position. Moreover, if I had multiple offers at this stage, I could use this deal stage as a way to manage that process and maximize my earnings and package based on my goals and what was important to me.
  • Job Accepted – Ring the bell my friend. You just got yourself a new job. ūüćĺūüéČūü•≥
  • Job Lost – The stage I used for jobs as I determined that employers were not interested, or as I personally removed them from consideration. Remember, you don’t need a yes or a no. You just need to know so you can focus your time, energy, and effort on the positions that you are mostly likely to land and that you are most interested in.

Really, setting up the process was that simple. In part II of this blog, I’ll show you some examples of how the process played out, as well as the most important feature in HubSpot I was able to take advantage of to determine if a company was actually interested in me as a candidate.

Do you have any questions about setting up HubSpot or the deal/job stages? Let me know in the comments below. I’d be happy to help!

My Definitive LaCroix Flavor Rankings (Updated)

LaCroix is the best drink out there. Period. It is a great way to wean yourself off of soda. Zero carbs and sugar in every can.

I have my co-worker Michael to thank for introducing me to LaCroix back in 2016. During lunch one day, he asked me if I had ever had a LaCroix before, to which I answered no. Moments later, I was drinking my first can of Peach-Pear, which combines the sweet smell of peach with a rounded pear taste.

I was hooked. Nearly instantly. The thing I like most about LaCroix is the aroma. It tricks my brain into thinking I am drinking something with sugar, even though I am not.

Over the last year, I have managed to try every single flavor of LaCroix out there. Here is my list of all of them, from worst to best:

21. Muré Pepino

It almost tastes like it has pepper or dirt in it. I’m not sure I was able to finish the entire can.

20. Melón Pomelo

Generally speaking, I am not a fan of any of the LaCroix C√ļrate flavors. This is another one that is forgettable at best. Cantaloupe flavored anything is just awful, and this is no different.

19. Kiwi Sandía

Slightly more tolerable than the two previous flavors. Emphasis on the word slightly.

18. Pamplemousse

Ok, this is bound to create some controversy. Pamplemousse is probably in the top three most popular LaCroix flavors. And I get it. However, it just doesn’t do it for me. It has way too much bite for my taste.

17. Coconut

The first time that I tried coconut, I hated it and didn’t try it again for months. A lot of people that I know describe it as the liquid equivalent of drinking tanning lotion. However, I have given it a few more tries since I first had it, and I didn’t think it was that bad.

Don’t get me wrong here, I don’t ever go out of my way to buy it. But if it is super cold and one of my only options, I’ll drink it. Certainly better than tap water.

16. Pomme Bay√°

The apple fragrance is appealing. But the taste doesn’t live up to the smell for me. Very forgettable, and one I never go out of my way to buy.

15. Cran-Raspberry

A lot of people that I know like this flavor more than I do. I just am not a fan. It is the Raspberry that I don’t like. If this flavor was just cranberry, I’d probably like it a lot more.

14. Cerise Lim√≥n

One of the worst to drink if it isn’t ice cold. If it is ice cold, it is tolerable. My wife and co-worker Donovan really like this flavor, so shout to both of them for that. Just doesn’t do it for me.

13. Pi√Īa Fraise

Of the C√ļrate flavors, this one is the best. Generally speaking, I am in on almost anything that is pineapple strawberry flavored. This one is packed with notes of sweetness. If you haven’t tried a C√ļrate flavor before and if you like things on the sweeter side, start with this one. I recommend drinking it over ice as well.

12. Lemon

Ok, this flavor has really grown on me. I used to hate it. But if I am in the right mood, I actually really like it. I notice that I like drinking it more in the afternoons, and also when it is really sunny out. Why is that? I have no idea.

11. Peach Pear

I used to love this flavor. And it was the first flavor that I ever tried. However, there is something about it now that hurts my stomach. I am not sure why. However, the aroma of this flavor is solid. Most people really like this flavor. And I understand why. It is good.

10. Pure

By far, the most underrated flavor of LaCroix. It is so smooth. And that makes sense of course. It is just water. However, it has just the right amount of carbonation to make it interesting. Highly recommended.

9. Berry

This flavor has shot up my list over the last three or four months. Tons of flavor. Decent aroma. There is a lot to like here.

8. Orange

Orange is packed with flavor, and it is super smooth. Highly drinkable in the mornings as well. If you consider yourself an orange juice person, this is a great replacement.

7. Lime

Every flavor in my top 6 are my go-to’s. They are the ones that I actually spend money on and drink outside the office. Lime is really good. It isn’t too tart and has a really smooth taste and aroma. If you like drinking Sprite, you will like Lime. It is solid, and almost never disappoints.

6. Tangerine

This is one of the flavors that I drink the most, even though it is number 5 on my list. Which is interesting because it is one of the newest flavors of LaCroix as well. It is just so easy to drink. If this is what future flavors are going to taste like, LaCroix has set the bar really high.

5. Apricot

This was the flavor that made me fall in love with LaCroix. I still remember the first time I had it on a company retreat in Chicago back in April of 2016. My knees buckled. Just the perfect combination of flavor and aroma. I don’t drink it nearly as often as I’d like to. But it is SO GOOD! If you haven’t tried it, you have to. It is fantastic.

4. Passion Fruit

The scent and taste of Passion Fruit are indescribable, but I am going to try anyway. It isn’t overly sweet, but it is highly delightful. The aroma that you get as you drink it has to be the best of any flavor. And it is really smooth as well. The colder that you can get it, the better that it gets. If you haven’t tried it because you were afraid to pull the trigger and your assumption has been that lime or orange is a much safer bet, you have to roll the dice and give it a go. You won’t be disappointed.

3. Mango

I wish we had this flavor available in the office more. It is SO good. Just loaded with flavor, and a very pleasant aroma as well. I won’t ever turn down an opportunity to drink one. One of my favorite flavors to drink at lunchtime.

2. Key Lime

Key Lime is bursting with flavor. Like The Cheesecake Factory Key Lime Cheesecake for your mouth. I’ve noticed that this flavor elicits the strongest response from traditional soda drinkers as well. Nearly every time I am at the grocery store, I pick up a case.

1. LaCola

This one moved up a LOT in my updated rankings. When I first published this post, I had it ranked dead last. But I decided to give it another chance this winter, and I was so pleasantly surprised that I drank 3 of them in one day! For a recovering sugary beverage addict like myself, this drink hits the spot.

Well, there you have it. LaCroix on my friends!

Follow-Up Magic

The Email That Gets Our Team the Most Engagement

The Email That Gets Our Team the Most Engagement

Occam’s razor states that “simpler solutions are more likely to be correct than complex ones”. This is true with almost every step of the sales process. However, I have noticed this to be particularly true during the negotiating phase of the sales process, when you are trying to get your prospect to reengage with you.

Next time you feel like you’re being ghosted, I want your to send your prospect the following email:

Subject: An Idea‚Ěď

Hey <prospect first name> –

I had an idea that I wanted to run past you.

Do you have 5 free minutes to chat this afternoon, or would tomorrow morning work better for you?

Best,

<your name>

That’s it. Many of you will try and add more to this email. I strongly suggest that you don’t. What makes it effective is the simplicity and the “clickbait effect” of people wanting to know what the idea is.

Step two of this approach is actually having an idea to talk to them about if they reengage (and many of your prospects will…trust me). I recommend that you don’t try and improvise this part. You need to have something concrete and clear to discuss with them. Some ideas that have worked really well for me and my team is extending their money back guarantee period, a well-positioned discount, or granting prospects early access to beta release features. However, the strategy here is completely up to you and should be specific to your business.

So give it a shot and if you see success using the strategy, I’d love to hear about it! Shoot me an email at nathan.bliss.nb@gmail.com and tell me the stories. And be prepared to get some messages from your team that look like this:

Some Thoughts on Starting a Startup

Starting a startup is awesome. If you are reading this, you are probably interested in doing that, or at least being a part of one. I remember just how¬†exhilarating the feeling was when I first started Zinnia. Thinking, planning, and dreaming about the idea took up a lot of my mental energy (but in a good way). Having been through that experience for the past two and a half years, and now that it has come to an end for me, I’d like to give you some advice on my experience that I hope you find valuable.

Align yourself with like-minded people

I will forever be thankful and indebted to my co-founders Andy Holz and Ben Lueders. I mean, how crazy is it for three guys that have no association or experience in the floral industry to up and decide to start a flower business together? Not to mention one that aspired to change the way that people bought any occasion flowers for their friends and family. So why did it work (even in the slightest)? I think it was partly because Andy, Ben and myself held a set of core beliefs centered around the Gospel that helped us endure and persevere, especially at the moments when things got hard.

We came from a place and belief that all of life is Coram Deo¬†(from the latin phrase meaning “before the face of God”). Simply stated: the Gospel changes everything, including how you¬†work. When we came to moments of decision where our options weren’t always clear, I always had a sense that no matter what the outcome was, Andy and Ben were my brothers and they had my back. It felt as if we could endure almost anything. And¬†we did.

So what does that look like for you? I’d encourage you to not make a decision about who you want to start a business with in haste. Take time to think about your founding team. You are going to spend a lot of time with these people. Do you know how the they like to be communicated with? Are a they a good listener? When times get hard, how do they react? If you don’t know the answers to these types of questions, you should before you get started.

Technical Aptitude is Imperative

When I think back on Zinnia, it is incredible to me how naive that I was. Zinnia was ultimately a software play. The core parts of the idea all were software based. We intended to be a marketplace, where buyers could connect with vendors that were setup to fulfill Zinnia arrangements (with Zinnia taking a small percentage of each sale).

I thought that the scope of my experience from PayPal and with online payments would be enough to carry though to the technical expertise necessary to execute the idea. Boy was I wrong.

Make sure there is a member of your team that understands how software works. Either that, or go create something that doesn’t require software. Seriously, you’d be better off starting a carwash than making this mistake. I remember how off put I was when one potential investor told us that they don’t invest in software startups that don’t have a technical co-founder. “I’ll show them” was all that I could think to myself. I now understand why that was their policy.

There were so many moments I wanted to fix problems that were happening as we were building our application, and I just couldn’t do it. Don’t make this mistake. If you are dead set on creating a product or a company that requires software to work, find someone that knows what they are doing to join you or go acquire the necessary skills on your own. Go to code school. Use Udemy or LinkedIn Learning. Sign up for a program like One Month Rails. Seriously, do something.

The best idea here is to go find the best person you can at creating the specific type of software you are trying to build. Don’t just assume that some $15 per hour developer that you found from another country on¬†Upwork has the ability to pull a rabbit out of a hat and they will be able to magically make your idea come to life. It just doesn’t work that way.

Don’t Slack Everything

Slack is a great tool. It really is. I love it. I probably use it more than any other application on my phone. But I also probably misuse it more than any other as well.

Do you have a hard problem that you are trying to solve? Don’t slack about it. Are you having trouble trying to perceive if something that one of your team members just told you was because they were upset? Stop sending them Slack messages about it.

Slack can quickly turn into a great way to avoid hard conversations and communicating with the clarity that you need to, especially on really important topics. I recommend that you go analog with any and all important decisions. Get in a room together and iron things out. Are you separated by distance? That is fine. Pick up the telephone and talk through things. Don’t use Slack to hide.

Be All-In

Ultimately, I think that part of the reason why I wasn’t able to make Zinnia successful is that I wasn’t “all-in”. I thought that I would be able to successfully moonlight the idea into existence, while still being able to hold a separate 9 to 5 job during the day. This just didn’t work.

I’m probably being a bit too self critical here. I did leave a great job at PayPal to join an accelerator and spend all of my (working) time on Zinnia. Looking back, I realize just how crazy that was. Thankfully, I am blessed to have a wife and family that have allowed me to pursue my passions.

But I just wasn’t able to see that through. If you have obligations like I do, think long and hard about what you are doing. Are you willing to take your bank account to zero? Who else are you responsible for, besides yourself? Are you willing to go beyond 40,50,60 hours at week at times to work on your idea? Ask yourself these types of questions before you get started. You need to have the¬†intestinal fortitude to give a yes answer to those types of questions.

For the record, I wish Zinnia nothing but the best. I am grateful to be able to say that I helped get it started. It was a blast. Sure, there were days that I wanted to pull my hair out and where I questioned nearly everything that I was doing. But I believe I came out of it on the other side a more refined version of myself.

So go start something great. Give it everything that you got. Just understand that the sheen will wear off quickly. It is those that persevere who will be fulfilled.

8 Ideas To Help A Friend That Has Cancer

Nothing can prepare you for when the doctor turns to you and says ‘you have cancer.’ or ‚Äėyour son has cancer.‚Äô Yet, that’s exactly what happened to my wife and I in September of 2010 (for me) and May of 2014 (for my son). I am now 32 years-old and my son is 5, and we don‚Äôt fit the profile of the typical cancer survivor. Nevertheless, my family has faced the disease head-on twice now, juggling everything during the process of diagnosis, treatment and continuing care.

Being sick was really tough for me, but it was even worse when my son was diagnosed. My darkest hour was the night before my son went into surgery to have his tumor removed. His body was failing him, and I felt completely helpless.

We had family, friends and members of our church community rally around asking what they can do. I think this process can be equally difficult for those people. ¬†Beyond prayer — asking God to make the illness go away — forever, it’s hard to know how to help. Here are 8 ideas to help a friend that has cancer.

Offer Specific Help

Assume that a family going through cancer is either reluctant to ask or unable to articulate their needs. Saying “if you need anything, call me” puts the burden on the patient. Psychotherapist Robi Ludwig, a Care.com parenting expert, suggests you offer pragmatic things such as driving carpool, making dinner (Take Them a Meal is a great resource to use as you can create a schedule for the family so people won’t prepare lasagna six nights in a row!), doing the laundry or helping take care of the family pet. And with their anti-bodies (and energy) at an all-time low, they’ll need a healthy meal and a clean home more than ever. See if you can find a cleaning person to work around her chemo schedule. This might be a gift a few friends can chip in on.

Be a Health Buddy

Cancer patients are overwhelmed by information and emotions caused by endless treatments and doctor appointments. Be their eyes, ears and brain by attending doctors’ appointments or handling time-consuming healthcare and insurance tasks. “Sit with them in the waiting room, join them for a cup of tea right before and be there in appointments to be their CNT or Chief Note Taker,” says Lindsay Avner, founder and CEO of Bright Pink.

Get Pictures Taken

Now might not seem like the best time for a glamour shots, but before your friend loses their hair, gains or loses weight depending on the treatment process and feels really run down, arrange for a private session with a photographer. Get the family session, but also take lots of photos throughout the treatment. They can be inspirational and empowering for people during the cancer journey, and are a valuable keepsake once the treatment process is complete.  I wish that I (or my friends) had taken more high quality photos throughout our cancer processes.

Take Their Mind Off Cancer

No matter how well-intentioned, talking about cancer gets old quickly for people whose life is already consumed by the disease. Let your friend know that you are there to listen and allow them to take the lead about the discussion.  When I was sick, I had a friend arrange a day for me and a few guests to travel to watch a my favorite college football team practice.  It was a day all about getting out and having fun, with no talk about cancer or treatment.  What can you do for your friend to give their mind a break? Maybe they would welcome a trip to the movies, having a massage day or an afternoon BBQ at the park just to take their mind off the illness.

Understand Their Flakiness

Cancer is a rollercoaster. ¬†One day your friend may want to be alone and the next day they may want to be surrounded by friends. ¬†I recall a time someone came to my house during my treatment process to visit and I never answered the door. Let them know it’s okay if they cancel and don’t take it personally if a few calls, texts, emails or knocks at the door go unanswered. Given what they are going through, this is to be expected.

Establish an Online Information Repo

Answering the same questions about treatment, diagnosis and/or prognosis can be exhausting and time-consuming. Offer to set up a Facebook page or CaringBridge page where friends and associates can go for updates on their care and health status. The individual can manage it, if they are  up to it. Or you can post the info they want people to know. Using one of these resources or groups can also help you coordinate things like traveling to treatments and appointments, babysitting and meal-making the local followers will want to take off her hands.

Some additional resources for this are Navigating Cancer and Lotsa Helping Hands. Both allow your friend to set up a personal profile or blog so friends and family are up-to-date with their treatment. A calendar is system is also used to coordinate help such as meals, driving, etc.

Give Them a Gift

Cancer can get lonely at times.  Long hospital stays, painful treatments and uncertainty.  Sometimes the best way to show a friend you care is a small gift or gesture.  A handwritten note or some flowers to brighten the room can go a long way to make some feel cared for. Other times, a more concerted effort to help your friend or family member going through cancer is in order.  During my son’s battle with cancer, we had a few friends organize a GoFundMe campaign, and it went a long way to help us with expenses. Never underestimate the power of generosity.

Don’t Disappear

The process of having cancer doesn’t stop when treatment ends. Even if your friend recovers, your friendship is still critical. ¬†When I ended my treatment, I recall feeling skeptical when a friend that had gone through cancer told me that it might take me a year to feel ‚Äúnormal‚ÄĚ again. ¬†But her advice was true. ¬†There were so many times in the proceeding months after cancer ended that I was doing things like locking my keys in my car, losing my shoes, forgetting peoples names, etc. ¬†Be patient with your friends after the process ends and show grace whenever you can. ¬†And don‚Äôt be surprised if they might still need your help every now and again.