SalesTechStar Interview with Ashkan Rajaee, CEO at TopDevz
Ashkan Rajaee, Founder & CEO of Software Consulting firm TopDevz joins us in this SalesTechStar Interview to talk about the inspiration behind his company while also discussing the key challenges he faced as a startup founder. Catch the excerpts to grab more sales tech tips and insights, and don’t miss Ashkan’s best practices for hiring and developing the right team in a tech startup:
Can you tell us a little about yourself Ashkan? What inspired the idea for TopDevz, while starting up, what were some of the initial entrepreneurial challenges you faced? Given your past experience as an entrepreneur, we’d love to know more about your biggest tech entrepreneurial learnings.
I am originally from Toronto, Canada. I currently live in California with my beautiful wife and our two children. The idea of TopDevz was inspired in my past role at a consulting company that I helped to grow very rapidly. I identified a lot of gaps and things that I knew could be done better, so I started TopDevz to take consulting in the software field to the next level.
The initial entrepreneurial challenge I faced was being able to get qualified people right away, as you see in any start-up. Attracting talent unless you are fully funded is very hard to do. I have been very lucky and fortunate to have a lot of folks work for the company that embraced their roles and the challenges that come along.
The biggest tech entrepreneurial learnings are that the modern age requires technology in order for companies to be successful. If you are not using technology in multiple departments, it will be very challenging to do things manually and impact your overall efficiency and accuracy.
In the B2B/technology marketplace, talent retention is a big problem, especially for tech startup founders. Can you talk about some of the ways you’ve (successfully) managed to overcome this?
In the B2B marketplace, talent retention is a big problem, especially for tech start-up founders, so we created a platform to help with this. Recruithub, an AI-powered, customizable one-way video platform allows us to process a candidate and qualify candidates much more quickly and eliminates the scheduling conundrum most applicants and companies face.
We also provide a model that allows developers to work from home in their location preference, we provide a collaborative environment of only top-tier talent and competitive salaries. Developers can also work on different projects so they are able to get variation in their everyday work.
Given the dynamics across the martech/salestech/fintech/ other tech segments, it is crucial for marketing, sales, finance professionals at the forefront to stay abreast of the evolving (new) tech. So is the case for the developer community. It would be great if you can share your top tips for upskilling/reskilling of the workforce, given the above.
RecruitHub’s backend technology allows us to actually track candidates and their progress. It allows candidates to update their own progress and skillsets without the cumbersome process of having to log in to a portal or those types of things that reduces the user experience. We keep in touch with everyone who comes through our channels, so if a candidate is not a fit for us currently, in a few months we may have a project they are a fit for. This keeps a steady talent pipeline as well as a standby talent pool.
How have you seen the martech/salestech industry evolve over time? What are some of the latest innovations that according to you will be a game-changer for this niche? How do you see the role of the typical B2B/technology marketing and sales professional evolve given the everyday innovations in technology?
I think the manner and timeliness in which we engage consumers or potential buyers of a service or a product is the game-changer for TopDevz. The faster you’re able to respond in a precise, concise and detailed manner, the higher your chances are of converting the lead. It also makes you look very knowledgeable in the industry and gives you a chance to kind of showcase your expertise very quickly. We ensure that we respond to a lead within 5 business minutes and we stay true to that timeframe because our research shows that every minute after that initial 5 minutes exponentially reduces your chance to get ahold of that person and even talk to them.
Second, getting customers the information that they’re asking for. So having a lot of marketing collateral that you’re able to leverage. We leverage our platform AdHub that repurposes our videos. AdHub basically makes videos interactive, allows you to ask questions, collect emails, point at and click to different areas of landing pages while they’re watching a video. I think that is a game-changer, using video and curated content to sell, but also that the videos be interactive. I see the role of a typical B2B technology evolving a lot which is why I created SAHRA, a suite of SaaS solutions, as part of our professional services that we provide. It is a much different way of thinking about things. In the B2B world, there is a lot of noise and everyone kind of sounds the same, so we are essentially giving a lot more value to our customers than we are asking for in return. I think every salesperson and entrepreneur should be thinking about is “how does my company offer more value than what I am asking for in return?”
What are some of the common pain points you observe in technology sales and how would you advise sales teams to optimize/overcome these challenges by optimizing use of their sales tech stack (and how).
The challenge is bystanders, so the pain point is just getting information to your clients in a timely and concise manner. I believe that in technology sales where you have a lot of options, being able to be a “first responder” or respond quickly is key. We have a customized CRM system that does a lot of workflow automation, which includes following up on leads after we have spoken to them. The follow-up is very specific to the person in that conversation, so they get the information they want to consume and quickly.
Could you share your favorite Sales/SalesTech quote and also some of your favorite entrepreneurial / leadership/ sales books that have been a valuable read!
“Statistics are like bikini’s, they’re suggestive but they’re not conclusive.”
My favorite book is Emotional Intelligence 2.0, I think it helps understand the emotional and psychological part of a sale and really getting to the bottom of what someone is looking for, then you can tailor your pitch to add the value they are looking for.
Tell us about some of the top sales/salestech/ other events that you’ll be participating in (as a speaker or guest!) in 2020!
I am most excited about being a guest on the Kathy Ireland World Wide Business show in April, she is obviously a very prominent business figure and very successful so I am honored to get to speak to her.
We’d love to know a little about your future plans, especially future plans for TopDevz
As far as the future for TopDevz we are looking to continue growing and not to scale. I don’t believe professional service companies can scale because we are dealing with human capital. When dealing with human capital, it comes with a lot of variables and then the human element. One of the things we are heavily invested in is differentiating ourselves from the market, hence bringing SAHRA to market to bring more value to our clients. When people see the value, they do more business with you. More business means more revenue, which would help us grow to a much larger size.
TopDevz only has vetted and proven top tier resources that are sourced directly by the firm in the United States and Canada. It offers these amazing people to its clients at 30-80% less than comparable options mostly attributed to its super efficiencies in recruiting operations.
As a former basketball athlete and foundational entrepreneur – leadership, development and teamwork are qualities Ashkan is proud of.