By now everyone has heard about the “Great Resignation,” where in America alone almost 4 million people quit their jobs each month during 2021 – the highest on record, and where there were over 10 million job openings as of December (source: SHRM).
At the same time, companies are facing this “people” crisis, they are also facing the changes brought about by the continued pandemic, the war in Ukraine, rising energy costs and inflation, supply chain disruptions, wage increases, and a virtual workforce.
While many companies are trying desperately to “automate” their way out of this chaos, there is a simple truth – people are, and always will be, a company’s greatest asset.
Without people, a company cannot execute their Go-to-Market Strategy, which I believe every company will have to continue to adjust into the foreseeable future, given all the disruption in the market.
Which brings me to your client’s HR organization and specifically the Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO) or Chief People Officer. I believe they have the most important job in any company now, perhaps even more so than those responsible for revenue.
A senior sales leader told me recently that in their weekly staff meetings the CEO went from talking to the CHRO last to addressing them first, recognizing that people were the company’s greatest risk.
I’m sure that most CHROs and their senior leadership team are likely awake at night worrying about company morale, employee retention, training and development, and their recruiting and onboarding processes.
I’m also betting that many of you have little to no engagement with your client’s HR organization – and nor does your competition.
Which is why the CHRO and other senior HR Leaders are a great opportunity to become your Partner Ally and Executive Sponsor!
If you’re selling “staffing solutions” to support IT, Engineering, Financial Services, Production, or other key business functions, it’s easy to connect your value to HR.
Others may have difficulty at first making that connection, but I’m going to suggest that almost everything we sell can be tied to people, and therefore HR.
Here’s an example: We have a client who sells ERP software. They happen to sell to an industry that, even before the Great Resignation, was very people dependent and oftentimes short-staffed, given the ever-changing economic and regulatory climate of the industry. As a result, their people were oftentimes working late hours performing manual processes.
Our client could sell their ERP software with a Level 2 Value Proposition to IT or Operations, or even Finance, and talk about how automating processes would help bring efficiencies and cost savings.
Or they could go to HR with a Level 3 Value Proposition and talk about the significant risk to the company’s success and future should their people decide to resign, or even get sick, and are unable to do their jobs.
As you think about what you sell, how does it directly or indirectly affect the people in your client’s organization? Can it make people’s jobs easier or less stressful, helping to improve employee wellness and retention? Can it free them up to do more meaningful and rewarding work, thus improving employee morale and satisfaction? Can it help eliminate the need for specialized skills, making it easier and faster to recruit and train new hires, and drive increased productivity?
Once you align your capabilities to your client’s people, it’s relatively easy to quantify the Level 3 business value. How much time does it take and how much does it cost in resources and revenue to replace people that leave? What’s the value of improving employee retention by X%? By hiring people faster by X days, weeks, or months? By getting them up to speed and fully productive more quickly? You get the idea.
My experience though is that the idea of speaking with someone in HR might feel uncomfortable because they speak a different language, have different needs, and really don’t care how your solution works.
Yet, this IS the essence of Level 3 selling – connecting the VALUE of what you sell to specific people in specific client roles, especially at the decision making / C-Level.
In this time when your clients are facing tremendous risk around their people, I encourage you to also take a risk and meet with an HR executive and discuss how you could help. You may be surprised at how quickly you can enlist their support with the right value message!
Determine the potential value you can create for your client’s employees and metrics you can help impact (employee retention, productivity, increased revenue). Identify sources and success stories, if possible. Research the CHRO and top HR executives in your key clients and reach out for an initial meeting.