The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology

systematicHR Avatar

I often think that senior HR practitioners don’t think about sales as often as they should.  Too much of the time, HR thinks that their performance in the delivery of services is enough.  Even if those services are the delivery of strategic reporting (such as detailed workforce analytics helping to chart the future direction of talent needs), we think this should give us a seat at the table.  What we don’t realize is that every other part of the organization is both delivering and selling at the same time.

Internal sales should be a very significant portion of our jobs.  We should be constantly selling the value of what we provide, before we provide it, during the provision, and after.  We do this by selling our value proposition each time we deliver a product or service, and tailoring that value proposition around the current need.

For example, rather than simply delivering the above mentioned workforce analytics and saying “we need to increase the levels of talent in our R&D department.” Why not say “We need to increase the levels of talent in our R&D department and I have 2 people in HR with the exact skillsets needed to partner with the business units and lead and develop a comprehensive talent plan.”  We need to continuously push with upper management telling them that we are the right partner, and then executing and showing them that.

We should also see ourselves in sales each and every time we want to engage the organization in a new project.  Rather than waiting until the project is well under way and pursuing a change management strategy with the business units and managers that will be effected, why are we not pre-selling those same managers on the benefits of the project?  Getting their buy-in this early will not only ease your pain during the roll-out, but it might also help you get the project approved and possibly get you more budget.  When business leaders are involved early and are willing to help sell with you to upper management, your hand is that much stronger.

There are many people who are afraid of “sales.”  For too long it’s been associated with the used car or insurance salesperson.  However, sales is a necessary part of business life.  We may not be earning a commission, but in fact the stakes are much higher.  At risk is your HR department’s standing in the organization, ability to execute projects and gain the respect of senior leadership.

Tagged in :

systematicHR Avatar

One response to “HR as Sales”

  1. Howard Gerver Avatar

    “HR Drives Sales Up 200%”; Profits Up 20% Due to HR Strength; Stock Skyrockets on Brilliant HR Strategy. No, it’s not April Fool’s Day. No, these are not real headlines. But, imagine if these were actual headlines. Well, forget about it.

    While I agree with Dubs’s premise, the bottom line is HR has a looooooong way to go before the WSJ, Forbes, Business Week or even the Harvard Business Review writes HR driven business result articles.

    What I find fascinating is that HR really does have the opportunity to have a seat at the business results table, yet often gets in its own way re: taking responsibility for sales, profits, market share, etc. For example, in my business (we specialize in healthcare expense leakage), we translate administrative cost leakage into revenue equivalents based on profit margins. Then we translate those revenue equivalents into widget unit sales.

    Makes sense right? While our clients intuitively kinda/sorta understand this, they don’t always embrace this. After all, “it’s just not done that we here.” Moreover, I had an HR prospect say to me the other day “it’s expensive to save a lot of money.” While she may be right (in a bizarre way), line management wouldn’t think twice about spending money to make money. There aren’t too many places where a company can yield a 500% plus ROI. Unfortunately, per Dub’s blog, HR is simply just not thinking in sales terms.

    Well, now is the time for change. If Hope and Change are good enough for our politicians, maybe HR should listen and embrace these concepts. The time for change is now! The time for HR to speak in sales terms is now!