Top Tips on How to Sell to HR Leaders

BY C. Lee Smith
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Are you trying to sell to HR leaders? This group has control over an increasingly large portion of organizational budgets. HR leaders are tasked with bringing employees into an organization and then retaining the talent. And they also want to know how can HR help increase sales. To improve candidate screening, they often purchase a sales hiring test for human resources. After all, they want to hire people who will excel and are a good fit for the company. For the longer term, HR pros may invest in additional systems that help them measure how employees feel about the organization and guide them in terms of managing culture.

Reducing Turnover

One metric HR professionals use to determine how well their systems are working is turnover. On average, turnover in U.S. companies is about 19%. However, the more meaningful number is the turnover in a specific industry. For example, the average supermarket or fast food company experiences 100% turnover. For call centers, between 35% and 40% of employees leave every year. Our Voice of the Sales Manager survey reveals that annual turnover in a sales organization is about 37%. Because turnover is so expensive, tools that can help HR professionals identify who is likely to stay on the job, such as a sales aptitude test, will sell.

Proving the Benefits of Your Sales Assessment Test

HR buyers want to hear why your assessment tests will improve their hiring success. The Society for Human Resource Management recently reviewed the specific criteria that HR professionals consider when they are determining the assessment system they’ll purchase, whether it’s for sales positions or for other position in the company.

Validity: Be prepared to speak about how your assessment will show that candidates can succeed in the position they’re applying for.

Adverse impact: You should be able to show that your assessment doesn’t result in any protected employee class (such as minorities) scoring lower than other employee classes

Cost: While some HR managers may fixate on the dollar cost of a sales assessment system, it’s your job to help them understand value. You should be able to demonstrate how other HR departments have fared using your system. Compare employee turnover rates before and after your system was implemented. How have HR leaders been able to use assessment results to identify potential star performers who apply for positions? That detail is certain to catch a leader’s attention.

Candidate Reaction: Is your assessment candidate friendly? Are people completing the assessment or do they stop halfway through. Have candidates complained about them? HR professionals will want answers to these questions. They won’t want to hear from candidates that the testing process was onerous and stressful.

Proving the Benefits of Your Coaching Tool

Beyond hiring, HR managers also obsess about culture. With your HR buyers so focused on company culture, it makes sense that the experts encourage you to “talk about the employee experience in your outreach.”

One aspect of culture is the action that managers take to invest in their employees’ professional development. Sales reps, in particular, want ongoing coaching to improve their skills. Once managers understand where a rep needs help, whether it’s in discovery or in closing deals, they can personalize coaching and use a computer-​based tool, to give assignments, track progress and report on results. An automated system that connects the results of the sales assessment test to the coaching needs of a new employee will impress your HR buyers.

Sell to HR Leaders

What’s the best way to sell to HR leaders? First, it helps to understand the size of the market you’re targeting. For example, 8% of HR buyers were in the market for talent acquisition systems last year.

As they look around for providers, these buyers use a number of resources to expand their knowledge. One report indicates they turn to search engines (60%), ask peers (49%), and speak with vendors at conferences (37%). These practices mean you should be working on your content marketing materials.

HR buyers use a specific set of criteria when evaluating vendors and the services they are selling. If you want to stand apart from the crowded field, remember that brand reputation (65%), product review/​rating sites (61%), and vendor rapport (61%) are top concerns when you sell to HR leaders.

Until a few months ago, HR leaders were dealing with one of the most competitive job markets in recent history. The business impact of COVID-​19 may increase the number of candidates applying for open positions. More candidates doesn’t necessarily mean better candidates. There’s no objective way to know if the most qualified candidate will be a good fit for an organization unless they use a sales assessment test. Likewise, HR pros will want to make an objective decision when deciding whether to invest in what you’re selling. When it's time to sell to HR leaders, provide them with the best data and value proposition to increase your chances of making the sale. These experts want to contribute positively to their organization's success. When they ask "How can HR help increase sales?" you'll have the answer.