10 Effective Hacks For Selling To HR

Selling to HR tech decision makers is tough and if you have recently entered this market, you will very quickly see your campaign conversion rates stagnate or even decline. A major reason for this is the number of companies in this space that you are competing with.

There are over 2500 HR tech companies and over 25000 staffing agencies in the US alone. Imagine the number of emails/cold calls an HR decision-maker at a medium to large size organization would be receiving on a daily basis. A

So because HR is a cost center for most organizations, the budget is very small in proportion to what they spend on other departments. It is very hard for HR teams to justify the purchase of a new tool/service internally, once they have their core platforms in place.

The HR Tech Market Map

Selling to HR- Market Map
HR Tech market map from CB Insights

While selling to HR function is difficult, you can definitely outsmart competition if you are able to think differently, time your reach outs better, and have better content in emails. To make it easier for you, we have compiled a list of 10 hacks you can use to effectively reach HR decision makers and improve your conversion rates :

#1 Find out what HR tools they are using

Then talk about how you can seamlessly blend into their landscape. 

If your product integrates with any of the tools they are using, they are more likely to pay attention to what you are saying. For instance in the recruitment space, if you have a candidate screening tool that integrates with their applicant tracking system, they are most likely going to hear your pitch if indeed candidate screening is a pain point for them. 

If your product competes with any of the tools they are currently using, you can use targeted reach outs to tell them why you are better than their tool. For instance, if you have a lightweight applicant tracking system and you know their current applicant tracking system has a very slow search interface, you know how to get their attention. By sequencing a series of reach outs targeting this one pain point, you should be able to get a meeting. 

Even if you do not have a product/ service that integrates or competes with tools from their existing HR suite, it is always better to understand their technology landscape before reaching out. By establishing your knowledge of what tools they use, your credibility increases and you stand out from the hundreds of emails they would be receiving daily from companies in this space. 

#2 Look for HR tool movements

Knowing the products and software that they’ve added or deleted from their tech stack can help you personalize and optimize your outreach.  Understanding HR technology landscape of a company may be a good first step to customize content but you can get even further if you are able to time these reach outs better. What could be better than knowing when they just moved to a particular technology, what technology did they move from, how long their contract period is and when it would come up for renewal ? 

For instance, let’s say Subway moved their applicant tracking system from Icims to Ultipro this month. 

If your product integrates with Ultipro, a great time to reach out would be in the first few months after the move as they would still be evaluating other tools in the space that integrate with the new tool they just bought. If you are late in your reach outs, one of your competitor may already have sold to them. 

If your product competes with Ultipro, you know now is not a good time as they just adopted a competing product. You would want to reach out to them three months before their predicted contract renewal date, to maximize top of mind recall when they start evaluating replacement products. 

#3 Target companies based on their fiscal year

Contact them a month prior, just when they begin allocating budget for their next fiscal year. 

This is an easy hack and often overlooked by most sales teams. For large companies, most of the time their hands are locked, once they’ve spent the money for that year’s purchases. So why not just contact them when they are closer to allocating budget for the next fiscal year, so they can factor your expense in.

#4 When selling to HR Look for financial indicators that signify greater purchasing power

For public companies, spurt in revenues, improved margins, etc. can indicate an increase in the prospect’s purchase power.

Growth in buying power is a great metric for sales teams. When companies are growing rapidly, they tend to be less conservative on their spend. If you can identify companies that are growing fast, it may be a good idea to spend a lot of resources on these companies, than spend time reaching out to the stagnant or bleeding ones. 

#5 For selling to HR private companies, identify ones that are flush with cash

Look for companies that just raised funding and are looking to add new tools to their portfolio. 

Private companies that just raised a funding round do couple of things. First they start hiring across the functions they want to grow. Then as new team members are added, they look at adding tools to help them perform their job function. 

A great example here would be a company that just hired their first HR team member after reaching 50 employees in size. The HR team member comes with a recommendation to buy an applicant tracking system to make his life easier. If your product is an applicant tracking system, why not look for companies that are just beginning to consider buying their first ATS ? In any given month there must be a few hundred of these across the globe. 

#6 Identify leading indicators

Often funding announcements are done a few months after a round is raised. Growth in earnings on quarterly reports for public companies would be seen a few months after the growth would have occurred. If you really want to outsmart competition why not look at leading indicators and reach out to companies when you spot their first signs of growth ? Often significant increase in the number of job openings precedes funding / earnings announcements. If this is a tech company, an even better indicator would be increase in Alexa rank. As company is growing and adding more customers they would be many more visitors to their site. 

#7 Send targeted campaigns based on the audience you are reaching out to. 

Use different campaigns for CXOs, VPs, Directors and Managers. 

Don’t use the same messaging for everyone. It rarely works. CXOs are extremely busy so you want to keep the message as crisp as you can. Also ask for a top down referral to the decision maker, as they may in all probability want someone else to look at your product. 

If you are targeting managers, you may want to ask for a bottom up referral to their decision maker. Here you may want to give more details than less, as the manager would really need to build a strong case for him to be able to convince his director/ VP to hop on a call with you. 

#8 Identify the best channel to reach them at

Social campaigns for folks active on social, emails/cold calls for the remaining.

If a person is very active on blogs / Twitter, a cold call/cold mail may not be a good idea at all. People who are active socially expect salespeople to do a thorough job researching what they care about, before reaching out. In almost all of these cases, you want to front end your conversation with a social campaign. 

#9 Look for decision makers who moved companies in the last 6 months

Decision makers tend to look for new tools if hated the ones in their previous company or carry the same set of tools to their new company if they had a delightful experience. Knowledge on when / where they are moving coupled with what tools they were using in their prior organization could be a very powerful weapon for your campaigns. 

#10 FOMO always works

Talk about other companies in similar space that have adopted your product and what they miss out on if they don’t. 

FOMO trumps value or cost value propositions any day. There are more folks today who buy products and services for the fear of missing out than because they see value in your offering. If you can establish what their competition is doing and why missing out on this opportunity would be a bad idea, you may have a potential sale right there. 

Selling to HR can be hard, but if you and your team do your due diligence well and come up with quality content and research analysis, you are guaranteed to be successful in selling to HR tech.

Deepak Anchala

Deepak Anchala

Deepak is the Founder and CEO of Slintel. A graduate from IIT and IIM, he started his career in investment banking and later made his way into the technology world. He has spent most of his career in sales and marketing roles; first at Fortune 500 companies and later at Silicon Valley startups.

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