By Susan Prince, J.D.
BLR Managing Editor
Unless HR professionals learn to market themselves, the executive team will not see them as equal business partner, said Jodie-Beth Galos of Galos & Associates, LLC., and Karen Ruef of Lincoln Financial Group, at the 2006 SHRM Tri-State Conference in Sturbridge, MA. Galos and Ruef recommend becoming strategic partners by selling HR and their ideas to upper management using very traditional sales techniques.
Galos and Ruef outlined five tried and true selling techniques for HR professionals based on the T.R.U.S.T. sales process:
- Conduct an audit to assess what issues need to be addressed within the company.
- Ask questions, keep your eyes open, request information, and discover what your company's needs are--as well as its values.
- Provide solutions that address your company's needs and values, and address people's concerns.
- Communicate the benefits of the proposed solutions to the executive team.
- Lay out the next steps required to implement the proposed solution.
To successfully follow these steps, HR professionals need to understand what individual sales approach will work most successfully based on their own and their internal customers' personality and business traits. Galos and Ruef outline four different sales approaches.
First, the "supportive, cooperative" approach requires the HR professional to communicate with the executive team using a calm demeanor, asking for results rather than demanding them. The second method is the "expressive, relationship" approach in which the HR professional tells the executive team the issue and proposed solution in an "expressive, accepting manner" in hopes of influencing the executives. Third, the "analytical, deliberative" approach requires asking the executive team for results in a "controlled, logical manner" with the expectation that they will make a decision after they have all the facts. Last is the "direct, results-oriented approach" in which the HR professional tells the executive team the plan in a "strong, direct manner," anticipating a quick decision "based upon key data."
Different situations will require different approaches, so HR professionals will have to tailor their approaches based on the group of executives they are trying to influence. Galos and Ruef maintain that using this sales approach will increase HR's importance to the executive management team.