Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Graduate recruitment program boosts business
Article Type: HR at work From: Strategic HR Review, Volume 7, Issue 3.
Short case studies that demonstrate best practice in HR
Clarissa Gent is based at Rackspace Managed Hosting.
At Rackspace Managed Hosting we breed an enthusiastic and excited workforce. We have a slightly unusual approach to recruitment, looking to get to the heart of people’s attitudes, rather than at their qualifications, in order to create a passionate and ambitious sales force that helps to drive the business forward and support company growth.
Founded in 1998, Rackspace specializes in managed hosting solutions providing organizations of all sizes with the servers, software, bandwidth and management needed to run a range of hosted applications from Internet to enterprise. Core to Rackspace’s strategy is its “Fanatical Support” approach, which focuses solely on the customer and creating a new level of customer service. This business model has made Rackspace one of the largest companies in the web hosting market, with more than 550,000 customers.
The customer base encompasses all sectors and sizes, from small businesses to market leaders and FTSE 250 clients, including Renault, Confused.com and Armynet, as well as clients in a variety of vertical markets such as entertainment, healthcare and virtual hosting. In recognition of outstanding customer service and employee relations, Rackspace won the overall award in the Management Today/Unisys Service Excellence Awards, 2005. The company has also been nominated for the Customer Service Excellence Awards for four consecutive years, winning in its category for the past three years.
Turning to graduate recruitment
Selling such a technical range of products and services is not always easy, so choosing the right sales people that reflect the Fanatical Support approach is imperative. In the past Rackspace had found it difficult to find individuals that had the passion and enthusiasm to sell managed hosting, as well as the technical knowledge and telephone skills necessary to close the deal. The company decided to look for a new approach to recruitment one that would bring in a consistently high standard of talented, determined and enthusiastic individuals to support its Fanatical Support approach, while boosting the number of sales leads and, ultimately, creating new business and supporting company expansion.
After considering a number of recruitment options Rackspace chose to trial the recruitment of carefully assessed new graduates, with a focus on finding talented individuals who would bring a fresh approach to the sales process. Initially, Rackspace looked to recruit three graduates into inbound and outbound lead generation roles to create the “Q Team” a new business generation team. The target was to ensure all three graduates were assessed, interviewed and ready to commence their new roles within a one-month time frame.
A bespoke approach
In 2002, Rackspace met with Pareto Law, a UK-based graduate assessment, placement and training organization, and was impressed with its approach to hiring graduates based on their attitude rather than their experience. Bespoke assessment days were arranged that were specific to Rackspace and tailored to the type of graduate and role on offer, with thousands of graduates assessed during the process. The assessment days combined one-to-one interviews with group work, presentations and psychometric testing, allowing the team of recruitment experts and Rackspace’s HR team to monitor individual performance and attitude. By implementing a tailored approach to the assessment, Rackspace had appointed three graduates for the new business generation positions within the Q Team in a matter of weeks.
Rackspace was keen to hire individuals that could demonstrate a passion outside of the workplace, in the hope that this enthusiasm could then be transferred into the sales office. From the range of graduates presented to them, Rackspace has hired a long course swimming champion, a first rate cornet player and an avid skier who flies to Switzerland at weekends to hit the slopes. Once the right individuals had been hired, Pareto Law provided the training necessary to develop a successful sales team, with the training also tailored to the business requirements of Rackspace.
Strong development support
The training programs include high impact presentation skills, cold calling, negotiation skills and account management, with all courses combining one-on-one sessions, group work, practical experience, role plays and feedback to help support the development of the graduates’ careers.
This bespoke training was also extended across the other sales functions of the company. A training needs analysis carried out by the training manager at Pareto Law enabled the assessment of staff training needs and the development of customized training courses designed specifically to meet the Rackspace sales model. This tailored training has helped Rackspace employees develop their skills in areas such as how to structure sales calls, lead generation and account management.
The training provides a solid foundation to a graduate’s development. It helps to boost skills and confidence and supports career progression, enabling graduates to climb the ranks and move quickly into management positions. The system works exceptionally well and adapts with us as we grow, and as our requirements change.
Driving business expansion
Rackspace Managed Hosting was looking to refresh its approach to sales by hiring ambitious and talented individuals with the right passion, ability and enthusiasm to drive forward sales and boost the company’s client base. Since the company began its relationship with Pareto Law in 2002, a total of 60 graduates have been assessed, selected, trained and employed into new business generation roles, with each recruitment drive completed in less than a month.
This quick and consistent turnaround of fresh, enthusiastic sales people has helped re-energize the sales department and support the company’s growth and development with 85 percent of the company’s new business now stemming directly from leads created by the Q Team. This is helping to strengthen Rackspace’s position in the managed hosting arena and support business expansion.
About the author
Clarissa Gent is new business sales manager at Rackspace Managed Hosting. She graduated from Manchester University with a degree in Chemistry in 2003. She joined Rackspace in the same year and was promoted to manager in 2006. Clarissa Gent can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org