In a word, become more Agile. This post focuses on 10 areas where HR can make a positive impact. I also offer the Agile HR Leader’s Scorecard. It’s a convenient tool to assess HR’s support for sales. It includes links to resources for each area of opportunity. Download it here.
How Sales Support Becomes Agile
HR’s focus is on attraction, retention and development of human capital. Partnering with Sales presents unique challenges. The pace of change is dictated by new buying practices and an accelerated decision timeline. Buyers are increasingly more educated and self-sufficient. At the same time, competitors are advancing the evolution of the sales role. Everyone is racing to adapt to new buying behaviors. Agility is the key to success.
10 Dimensions of Agile HR Leadership
- Recruiting – LinkedIn has changed everything. Agile HR leaders connect with candidates in the places where they are already spending time. Social media have evolved as the most potent recruiting channel. Example: A recruiter monitors “A” players who work for competitors. She mines their LinkedIn profiles for new connections to other top performers.
- Mobile Reach – Communications must be formatted to engage tablet and smartphone users. Recruiting and employee engagement initiatives are most successful when they are mobile-friendly. Example: The annual employment engagement survey was formatted for smartphone response. Employees were able complete it while waiting in line for morning coffee. The result was record high response rates.
- Social Selling Profiles – The LinkedIn profiles of the sales team must shift from an online résumé to a powerful selling tool. Enable sales teams to communicate their value to buyers when they aren’t present. Example: An HR leader conducted an audit of sales reps’ profiles. Then he led a workshop to help enhance their profiles. The result was an increase in appointments accepted by prospects.
- Social Networking – Lead by example in social networking. Expand relationships with potential candidates and professional colleagues. Who you know is more important than what you know. Example: An HR leader joined the LinkedIn group “Linked:HR.” He participated in discussions that yielded ideas he used to solve a turnover problem.
- Agile Onboarding – Traditional strategies of Learning & Development stifle rapid new hire development. Sequenced and layered content are the keys to quick ramp to productivity. Example: By changing the flow of the new hire curriculum, sales reps retained more knowledge. And they produced sales results sooner.
- Upgrading Legacy Talent – Ensure legacy sales talent does not become obsolete. Keep “A Players” fresh and competitive with social and mobile skills. Example: An initiative to teach Social Selling invigorated a tenured sales force. They found new ways to connect with prospects and customers.
- High Performance Teams – Utilize small teams to solve problems while developing talent. Build a culture of collaboration and success with cross-functional project teams. Example: A cross-functional team streamlined the pricing exception process. Sales reps were actively engaged with IT to bring the Voice of the Customer.
- Employee Engagement with Gamification – Overcome the isolation of remote workers with fun and teamwork. Turn the CRM system into a competitive arena with scoreboards and prizes. Example: A sales team embedded the monthly sales blitz contest in the CRM system. Activity reported in the system nearly doubled compared with manual activity tracking.
- Internal Social Communications – Join the sales team on-line. Listen, engage and collaborate with internal social media like Salesforce.com’s Chatter or Yammer + Microsoft Dynamics. Example: By reading and posting regularly in Chatter, an HR business partner built credibility. The result was that her opinion was sought more often by the sales team.
- Thought Leadership – HR business partners maximize value to Sales when they understand trends and best practices. Example: An HR leader built a reputation as an expert in Sales. He began by regularly reading and forwarding online articles to Sales colleagues.
Take an Agile Step Forward Today
Technology has leveled the playing field for most Sales and HR leaders. Social media platforms, cloud-based CRM, and chat are pervasive. Mobile devices allow access to every resource from any location.
Competitors all have similar tools. But few have figured out how to take advantage of this landscape loaded with promise. The race is on. Those who are most Agile in adapting will thrive. The rest will struggle to copy and keep pace.
An Agile approach requires a holistic view of sales effectiveness. Sales leaders are not experts in Human Resources. Re-shaping a sales force depends on the coordinated efforts of the sales leader and HR business partner.
Take action now. The Agile HR Leader’s Scorecard is a convenient tool that lets you:
- Assess your current state
- Link to ideas and tools to address areas to be more Agile
In just a few minutes, you’ll have an assessment of your current program. Uncover areas of opportunity in your HR programs. A more Agile approach will build the momentum you need to Make the Number.