While they have certainly not been avowed foes or mortal enemies, human resources and sales have traditionally not worked in the same space — and that was fine with both camps. Human resources focused on issues like recruiting, compliance and terminations, while sales focused on nurturing prospects into customers. So yes, human resources and sales nodded politely to each other on the playground. But no, they didn’t swap lunches or play in the same sandbox.
However, on today’s integrated workplace landscape, this respectful co-existence has given way to a new paradigm: one where human resources drives sales success. Not by wrapping their heads around “the buyer’s journey” or trying to meet quota, but by focusing on five things that their sales colleagues need to succeed – and that in the long-run, their mutual organization needs to thrive:
- Aligning Recruiting with Sales Strategy
Rather than passively responding to recruitment requests, human resources should take an active role in working with sales managers to understand their strategic aims and goals, and launch recruitment campaigns accordingly. For example, the road ahead may call for sales staff who are more skilled at keeping existing customers instead of converting new ones. Or, a sophisticated new product in the pipeline may, once launched, require sales staff with strong technical skills (or the capacity to learn them quickly) vs. conventional selling abilities.
- Attending the Adequate
Sales managers tend to focus their time and attention on two groups: top performers who are punching well above their weight class, and folks on the low end who are lagging behind – and are likely on their way out sooner or later. However, in the middle of these two groups are team members who perform their jobs adequately, and who need to be supported. By working closely with sales managers, human resources can identify who these adequate-yet-essential individuals, and put effective programs in place to keep them engaged – and ideally, shift them into a higher gear to carry the mail in the years and decades ahead.
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- Building Compensation Plans
There’s a reason that exceptional sales professionals – and in many marketplaces, even average ones – have “recession-proof” career paths: because if their current employer cuts back or goes under, they can take their skills to a new team and continue doing what they do best: making it rain. With this in mind, human resources should work with sales managers to ensure that compensation plans aren’t just about results, but that they’re also about retention. Otherwise, recession or boom, the organization will lose some of its most profitable and hardest-to-replace people. Human resources can significantly reduce this risk.
- Measuring Performance
While “numbers don’t lie”, they don’t always tell the full story, either. Many sales professionals who are meeting or even exceeding quota on a regular basis may not be performing at optimal levels. For example, they may be working far too much and inevitably headed for burnout. Or, they may be intentionally or unintentionally blocking their colleagues’ success. Human resources should work with sales managers to help them look beyond the numbers and truly measure performance. That way, they can identify everything from best practices to roll-out across the team, to warning signs that demand prompt and documented corrective action.
- Using Analytics to Generate Intelligence
Last but not least: while much is made about the role that Big Data Analytics is playing in marketing, customer support and of course, sales, the impact in human resources is just as substantial. For example, human resources can now capture a broad range of metrics such as revenue per employee, involuntary and voluntary termination rates, employee productivity by position, and the list goes on. All of these metrics add business value, and many of them are directly relevant to sales managers, who can use them to make faster, smarter decisions regarding workforce planning and management.
At PIVOTAL, we speak the language of business, and understand that “driving sales” isn’t just a function for our clients: it’s the engine of their organization, and essential for their lasting sustainability and continued growth. That’s why our customized HR solutions are firmly rooted in business thinking, ROI and the bottom-line. To learn about leveraging human resources to drive sales success, contact us today.
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