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  March 23, 2015  

Strategic HR Weekly "Sales" Tip #17

Defining "HR"... Why Is It So Hard?

A lady "dropped in" to my client's HR firm office the other day. She's in the process of starting a government contracting business, and saw our name on the building directory when she was in the lobby for another reason. She came up and spoke to someone in the office briefly, and it was left that I'd give her a call when I was back in the office.

Right off the bat in the phone conversation, she told me she was mainly interested in recruiting assistance/support and benefits. Then she said, "You need to get the word out that you guys are here. I went to another HR company [in the next town over] the other day, because I didn't know you were right here."

I know the area and competitors pretty well and didn't know of another HR firm close by, so I asked, "When you say you went to another "HR firm", what do you mean?" And she replied, "Well they sell benefits - you know... an insurance agency."

I wanted to scream into the phone, "So why didn't you just say 'I went to an employee benefits broker', you idiot?!?! They're not an 'HR firm'. They just friggin' sell insurance!!! They have no idea what "HR" is!!!"

But I didn't. Not a good sales technique. Tends to kinda spook prospects. So instead, I simply said, "Oh. Okay."

So back to my title of this Tip - Defining "HR"... Why Is It So Hard?

It's 'cause there's so, so, so much that falls under the umbrella of "HR", that most people can only think of it in little tiny pieces. It's simply all their brains can handle, and I'm NOT saying they're stupid when I say that. In fact, when you look at the 197 granular "things" (activities, products, and services) that fall under HR, there's actually over 32 full blown stand-alone professions that actually exist and are available to do portions of those 197 things for companies that choose not to have internal employees do them.

  • There are 27 things "have-to-do things", that are usually either done internally and/or with the advice of a CPA(1) or lawyer (2)...
  • Then there are 106 "optional, but commonly done things" for which there are specialized outside vendors available to do them. There are payroll service companies (3), and EPLI providers (4), and time clock companies (5), and drug testing firms (6), and health insurance companies (7), and dental companies (8), and safety training companies (9), and recruiting firms (10), plus (you get the gist) 21 other specific "vendors"...
  • And lastly there are 55 "optional, but NOT commonly done strategic things" that are typically only done by well qualified internal HR employees (if the positions exist), or by an outside HR Consultant (32) if the expertise is not available internally.
(These 3 groups of things above roughly correspond to my "3 types of HR" I often refer to:
the "keep me in compliance and out of jail HR";
the "keepin' up with the Jones' HR"; and
the "keep me ahead of the competition HR".)

So next time a business owner or executive implies to you that they "get" HR, you can pretty much count on them being wrong. And if it's important to your personal mission and objective to actually make sure they do understand it, you're going to have teach them.


Rob Blunt       View our profile on LinkedIn
President, 4-Profit-HR

phone: 866-868-5885