How to Recruit a Rainmaker

Chasing the Purple Unicorn

How to Recruit a Rainmaker

Mystery Solved

Next to CEO, the most challenging, close to impossible position to fill in any organization is that of a rainmaker. When you recruit a rainmaker, you’re looking for a rock star biz dev goal crusher. That’s why companies will hire an executive search firm to try and find, attract and recruit a rainmaker. They’re all happily employed somewhere and really difficult to connect with. Good luck with LinkedIn emails at this level.

This is not the first time Perry-Martel have been tasked to recruit a Rainmaker. In fact Perry-Martel are often called upon to recruit individuals who will make a monumental difference in the fortunes of a company, which is why companies hire us to when they want to identify and recruit a rainmaker. 

This is one such story. An executive search conducted on behalf of an architecture firm in Ottawa Canada: Rossmann Architecture.

How to Recruit a Rainmaker

Full Transcript

How to Recruit a Rainmaker Interviewer Peter Clayton

Interviewer - Peter Clayton

Producer/Host - Total Picture Media

Peter Clayton has proven, award-winning experience innovating and creating themes, content, and production for corporate and industry conferences and events. He's an accomplished writer-director of corporate image, marketing, and documentary films.

How to Recruit a Rainmaker Rainmaker Shane Balcom

Shane Balcom - Rainmaker

Rossmann Architecture - Managing Director

Shane Balcom is responsible for revenue and business development including partnerships and future acquisitions. Drive the execution and implementation of scalable process/systems to work as a foundation for Organizational growth

Rainmaker: Shane Balcom

So, Shane Balcom  is my name and I’ve been working in what I would call sort of hypergrowth start up space now for about 15 to 16 years, you know.  Typically, I would classify myself as an executer. 

Interviewer: Peter Clayton

When David first contacted you regarding his mandate to recruit a rainmaker for Rossmann architecture, he referred to you as a rainmaker and a unicorn, but your first reaction was this opportunity really didn’t make much sense to you. It was small.

Rainmaker: Shane Balcom

You know, my last firm was about $30 million top line with the idea of growing to one hundred.  In the last several positions I’ve had with companies that were north of eight figures, nine figures.  And, you know, Rossmann is a pretty small company.  It’s an early stage company. And, you know, I’m glad David stuck with me on it and explain it better. It turned out to be a really cool opportunity, as you know, in the end, and obviously it took the job, I would never have seen or applied for this job on my own.

Interviewer: Peter Clayton

Well, let’s dive into this a little bit deeper. Shane, tell us about the process that David and Anita ran introducing you to Rossmanns and getting you, initially at least, interested in exploring the rainmaker opportunity.

Rainmaker: Shane Balcom

You know, the first phone call that David and I had, and he predicated it…  I think he knew before he even opened his mouth that my first instinct was going to be, “this isn’t a fit.”  So, he started by basically telling me that this is going to be outside the box. “I need you to listen. I want you to hear me out and at least meet the CEO”.

And, you know, by doing that, he kind of put me on my back foot and I moved with the approach.  Because if you’re looking to recruit a rainmaker and just come out and say, ‘we’re looking to recruit a rainmaker or biz dev, senior biz dev guy at an architect firm’, I would have said, “good luck and not me.”

But, you know, he predicated it all. He framed it really, really well. And the thing he did that I loved is he made it more about the human variable. “And I think you’ll be a good fit for them. It’s husband and wife. They’re very humble.”   You know, in the end, one of the things that I really do for the Rossmanns is mentor them and I love that.  David knows that I really enjoy having that aspect in my professional life. 

So, again, the fit.   I think David understood the fit.  Knowing me a little bit and knowing his clients well and going back to the Perry-Martel group in general, that includes Dave and Anita,  I like their process and typically I don’t like recruiters. They’re… they’re very human about their process. They think a lot about, you know, the moral fit now.  The moral foundation of the people they’re putting together, not just CVS’s, not just skill sets. And, you know, after thirty-five years, they both really do understand that the innate often can circumnavigate and be much more impactful than what you might see on a CV. And you know that for sure. For sure.

That respect I have for them really helped me get to the next step. If it was a recruiter I never spoke to before, I never get to the next step. Now, the fact that I did have some history with David and a lot of respect from having read some of his books, have referred people to him in the past, those things helped a lot.

And David’s been a bit of a mentor.  A bit of a go to resource for me in the last seven or eight years. Just when it comes to me having questions.  Had nothing to do with using his services.  Nothing to do with, you know, needing a job. It’s just I respect his opinion. I respect his experience when it comes to understanding our space. So, and out of time, I really do consider David and SME in the space.  And I don’t say that about I don’t think any other recruiter. So that’s a big deal for me.

And, you know, I’m back to more specifically around the question. Clearly, I’m sitting here today. So, he was correct. His gut was correct. He was able to recruit a rainmaker for Rossmann. The process they ended up running afterwards was an incredible process back to how David framed it up as a rainmaker and how unique it was.  A unicorn. He was right on. This is a pretty unique position that’s going to take a pretty unique person to do right. And when you go to recruit a rainmaker, you HAVE to get it right. 

Interviewer: Peter Clayton

One of the things that I asked Eric when we originally got together and talked about doing this interview had to do with David’s Inside-Out Process. Right. Which is extremely detailed and very in-depth and the whole process of going through and hiring someone. And I asked Eric, I said, “you know, is this something that now you are going to incorporate in your hiring process? And he said, you know, if I need to do a hiring at the executive level, I’m going back to David because I’m not a brain surgeon.  This isn’t what I do for a living.”  And I found that really fascinating. You know, back to this whole thing that we were talking about is the humility and the lack of ego that seems to exist.

Rainmaker: Shane Balcom

And in that culture that you are now part of, you know, the human DNA that connects the three of us is built on a foundation like that. And I really do believe that, that if they engage with the wrong executive recruiter, they probably would have got somebody skilled enough to pull off the job. But I don’t know if they would have got the DNA match that that David needed, were very concerned about very, very open and articulated it very well. And that’s the difference with the process that they run.

And I think David and Anita knew by putting me in here, I’d be very aware of that type of stuff. They weren’t just looking to recruit a rainmaker, but looking to recruit the RIGHT rainmaker. And I don’t think that’s that common.  I don’t think a lot of people would walk into a VP of Sales search with that as part of their agenda. I think that’s a very subtle thing. 

But I do think it’s right near the top of the list of importance when matchmaking in this type of a company and this type of a role. And that’s more than anything. That’s where my hat’s off to the way David and Anita to run their process. They actually care about the humans involved in the process and they actually get the human component so, you know, to take away some of the fluff around it.  It’s because they get that satisfaction you know.  Long term success is all going to increase if they pay attention to this.

I don’t think a lot of recruiters ever paid a second thought humbly. And I’ve used recruiters in three or four different countries. The neat thing about recruiters, the thing I would tell anybody, if they’re going to engage with a recruiter, make sure, you know, some of the things we touched on are part of the process. Make sure the human variable is considered here. Make sure it’s not too plug and play.  Too binary and to sterile though.  Anybody can do scrapes nowadays on LinkedIn and find CVS and start throwing spaghetti on the wall.  I need to love where I work.

I’ve seen very few that are willing to take the time and have the passion to also connect, you know, the right people. And that’s a big deal. Connecting the right CV to the right. You know, gap is one thing. Connecting the right people is a really interesting, subtle skill and go back to humility and stuff.  Perry-Martel has just got bag full of that as well.

And, you know, it’s just, it’s just, a nice way to do things. His ability to systematize all the facets of the business so he’s always on solid ground with all his projects, because there’s no guessing with this guy.  

How to Recruit a Rainmaker

Looking Beyond the Initial Hire

Once you recruit a rainmaker, you need to ensure they’re being enabled and given the freedom to pull the company in new, more profitable directions. However, this can be tricky, especially with companies and owners who’ve never given up the reigns before. How do you shake things up without destroying the foundation?

Shane Balcom shares his insights on working with Founders and CEOs. 

 

Interviewer: Peter Clayton

Next to CEO, the most challenging, close to impossible position, to fill in any organisation is that of a rainmaker, a rockstar BizDev gold crusher. That’s why companies will hire an executive search firm to try and find and attract rainmakers. They’re all happily employed somewhere and really difficult to connect with. Good luck with LinkedIn InMails at this level. When my friends, David Perry and Anita Martel, at Perry-Martel international contacted me regarding a rainmaker search they successfully completed, placing a candidate that is not only a rainmaker but a unicorn, well, that really intrigued me. David and Anita were hired to fill this senior position in an early stage architectural firm with about 20 employees. The firm needed not just a sales leader, but someone to run operations. Hence they needed a unicorn. And the new hire would report to the founder CEO, a husband and wife team.

What could possibly go wrong? Well, just about everything. The reason this one worked, well, there are a lot of reasons. For instance, Perry-Martel’s incredibly detailed inside out process. The key essence of the approach and success, finding the perfect candidate and maximising the ROI, you need to understand not only the position, but the company and its culture. In other words, you go deep inside before you go outside. And here’s one more essential ingredient. It takes a rainmaker to attract a rainmaker. And that’s exactly what happened here.

In this video, you’ll meet the rainmaker, Shane Balcom. We focus specifically on working for founder CEOs, diving into both sides of this equation. If you’re a rainmaker or a founder CEO contemplating a scenario similar to this, you’ll find Shane’s experience and insights invaluable. The video is part of multiple interviews covering the Rossman architecture story called, you guessed it, the Rainmaker series. There’s another interview with Shane that’s focused on working with executive recruiters and soon I’ll be interviewing the founder CEO team, Erik and Sara Rossman. Finally, you’ll find Perry-Martel’s inside out process and important research in the resources section of their website, perrymartel.com. And now here’s my conversation with Shane Balcom. Enjoy.

Rainmaker: Shane Balcom

So Shane Balcom’s my name and I have been working in what I would call sort of hyper-growth startup space now for about 15, 16 years. I am a generalist for sure. Spent a long time in operations, morphed over to the executive sales side of the house. I’ve run channel. I’ve run professional services. Math background, which means I’m pretty versed when it comes to fiscal responsibility and finance stuff as well. And most recently leading up to this, I started to delve into the chief of staff type roles and feel like I specialise specifically with founder CEOs, and the vertical in general really doesn’t matter to me. I like founders-CEOs. I like to team up with entrepreneurs. And typically I would classify myself as an executer. I’m not an entrepreneur, but I’m a great right hand to an entrepreneur.

Interviewer: Peter Clayton

But one of the things that you said to me that I found really interesting is that what you have learned about founder CEOs in the past 10 or 15 years. So can you unpack that for me a little bit?

Rainmaker: Shane Balcom

Yeah. So the neat thing about being a generalist is typically founder CEOs, and this is the fourth gig I’ve had with a founder CEO. They have a core skillset and entrepreneurial side that is their comfort zone, their go-to where their passion lies, but they’re always the owner and the founder of the company. They obviously end up in CEO positions because the company has some success early doors, and they’re not well-rounded CEOs. So as great as they are, as exceptional as they are in certain parts, including the entrepreneurial DNA, they usually have big holes in their game when it comes to being a well-rounded CEO. And where I can really help is I could fit a lot of those holes.

And the other thing I’ve learned is I really like… And it’s a bit of a generalisation, Peter. But I really like the intellect and the passion that seems to come with a founder CEO. I like working for that kind of a brain. I like the quick processing. I love the passion. We officially decided yesterday that my role here and title will be Managing Director. So I’m going to be in charge of the internal and external scalability of the business. So I own all the process development, all the operational side, including managing their executive team. And I also own all the growth scalability, potential acquisition from a business development lens. It hasn’t taken very long for them to get comfortable and recognise the breadth of my skillset and the importance to their vision and their vision is top line growth.

Their vision is designing a culture based on their moral fabric, which is basically, especially from Sara’s point of view, they want to have a very gender healthy society here. They want to have great work-life balance. They want to have autonomy. They want to have freedom. They want to have a culture designed around personal ownership and responsibility. And these are great things. These are things that are going to be fun to scale. They want to be considered one of the best places in Ottawa to work. So we have some very specific goals in mind when it comes to our people, our people resource, as you and I both know, and probably the most important part of scaling on successful business.

And the other side of it is making sure that the zeros and ones through the process is designed not to break as we triple or quadruple our revenue in the next 18 months, and to design the proper leadership cadences. So we’re managing the strategy and the potentially fatal decision-making processes that could unhinge us. So those are all the things I’m doing for them. And from the BD side, it’s making sure we don’t open the tap too soon and fail. A friend of mine on the consulting world uses this phrase that I coined a long time ago just by accident in the conversation with them, but I was quoted as saying, “Success is just another form of failure if you’re not careful.”

Interviewer: Peter Clayton

Another insight you shared in our prep interview was a lot of small businesses never become big businesses because having the humility to recognize that there’s a massive upside for them if they do go out and get people that can do things they can’t. So how did this factor into your decision to join Rossman?

Rainmaker: Shane Balcom

If I don’t identify that being a truth, I never take the job. So as you get further along in your professional career, experience really starts helping you with decision-making. I’ve experienced the opposite. And I recognise now that with these smaller founder companies, the one thing that’s a must for a guy like me is they do need to be humble enough and aware enough to know that in order to get to where they want to go, they might need somebody else flying the ship. And I’ve never understood why… I’m not an entrepreneur, so it’s tough for me, but I’ve never understood why ego sometimes gets in the way of this type of success or growth. It confuses me a little bit, but I do get on a human level and it’s not uncommon.

So part of my vetting process was making sure I felt very comfortable that Erik and Sara were on the same page. And one of the things I said to them last week, “If you guys aren’t happy, and I’m not talking professionally now, I’m talking in your personal life, I’m going to own that. I’m going to feel responsible for that.” And it’s very important to me that they understand that. I’m not here just to try to make them money. I’m here to try to make their life, in an absolute sense, better. And we could do really well at Rossman, but if we do it in a manner that creates all kinds of stress at home, I failed. I think that’s a unique spin. And I think David and Anita knew by putting me in here, I’d be very aware of that type of stuff, but I don’t think that’s common. I don’t think a lot of people would walk into a VP of Sales role with that as part of their agenda.

I think that’s a very subtle thing, but I do think it’s right near the top of the list on importance when matchmaking in this type of a company, in this type of a role. I love the weird journey I’ve been on, and that includes ending up at a mom-and-pop architect firm. How cool of a story is that? And hopefully this is my last gig at this stage of my career. I’d like to be here for the rest of my working days. And I’d like to pull off exactly what the Rossmans hope to achieve. And I think it’d be pretty neat to be part of that.

 

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