Strategic HR Weekly "Sales" Tip #49
No need to talk Profits...
An HR Consultant in Michigan called me a couple weeks back and wanted to see a demo of ToolsForHR.com.
I attempted to find out more about what he was exactly looking for before we started. It was a little challenging, in that he wanted to "see" a couple things, before he revealed much about himself. I get it. When you're selling something, either externally or internally, you often have to earn the right to ask deeper questions. Meaning you've got to first "prove" you know what the heck you're talking about before you get invited to sit down at the table.
So I chose to first show him the Employee Productivity Profit Impact Calculator. It's one of the models where if you don't plug in Target Revenues and Target Profit Margins, nothing comes out the other end. After a 60 second-ish overview, the guy told me,
"I don't need to carry my offering advantages out to the Profits discussion level. I work with firms that often have well over a million dollars in safety losses and fines, etc. And I can show them credibly that I can cut those by X percent, and that my fee to do so is only a small fraction of their savings. So I don't even really need to get into ROI."
So there you go. Technically though, he is addressing Profits with his prospects, but any business executive who can fog a mirror knows that if you cut expenses, Profits go up. You don't have to say it out loud.
And ROI? Technically, they'll have to pay him (ie, make an investment) before they see their other costs decrease, but the advantages are so clear cut and quick, the CFO won't be fretting about an "investment" hanging out there. It'd like saying, "You're spending $10 on utilities now, and if you pay me $1, I'll you in a utilities program that'll only cost you $5." Technically that's a 300% return on a $1 investment, but folks just think of it as "we just saved $4 on our utilities".
Why am I babbling about this? 'Cause selling strategic HR's often much tougher. And certainly in the SMB market, where HR is often a department-of-one and seen as just the paper pushers. If the guy above was selling safety services to firms whose losses were less than his fee, and sometimes maybe even $0, he'd have to sell it as a "just in case you do have losses" proposition. In other words "insurance against future possible accident costs". Compliance is no different. If a business is incurring a bunch of fines and legal costs, spending more money on HR (if it's less than the fines) is a slam dunk to make the fines and lawyer costs go down. But if they've had NO fines or legal costs? Totally different level of urgency.
And how about the HR Strategies that DO involve Revenue and Profit Margins and not just Expenses? Lots of HR folks aren't used to or comfortable talking about those aspects of a business, but if HR wants to move from "overhead" to "critical business function", they're going to have to get good at it.