Clearly defining an HR manager's role is becoming increasingly difficult. The tasks associated with long-term success are now so complex that HR professionals are becoming all-rounders. Today's HR manager is also a marketeer, strategist, financial controller and sales executive in one. Some very clear parallels can be seen between HR management and sales. Commonly used sales terms such as 'customer journey', 'digital touch points' and 'customer experience' can be logically applied to human resources. In this case, the customer is the candidate. The following five examples illustrate why successful HR managers need to be good sales people as well.
Identifying Target Groups: The candidate profile
Sales departments have the task of selling products or services to a suitable target group. The more accurately you're able to define this group, the easier it is to reach and minimise wastage. The same principle applies to recruitment. But, it is even more challenging, since with each new vacancy there's a new product and target group that needs to be addressed. The target group can be identified by defining candidate profiles in close cooperation with the department where the new employees are to work. But to restrict it just to this would be short sighted. Existing employees are a second important target group in successful HR management. Retaining talent within the company is also one of the sales-oriented tasks of any HR manager.
Customer Relationship Management: A positive candidate experience
Sales is the principal interface between the company and its customers. HR fulfils the same important function in relation to the job market. Careful relationship management is the basis for a positive candidate experience - and therefore essential for attracting new talent. Digital media has made communication faster and more direct, and has also resulted in candidates having greater expectations of your company. HR professionals need to master all aspects of this new type of engagement, including being able to make effective use of digital channels. Continually adapting the means and channels of communication is equally important as establishing new touch points, for example at job fairs, in schools or universities.
Maintaining a Customer Base: The talent pool
A good sales person can demonstrate long-term customer relationships. In a similar vein, the efforts of HR in respect of new applicants should not be focussed just on the short term. Candidates tell other people about the company and their candidate journey, even if they're not offered the job. A well-maintained talent pool, in which candidate profiles don't disappear into oblivion, but where potential employees are kept informed about new opportunities, is comparable to good customer relationship management in sales. The effect is the same: customers and applicants both have experience of the company and tell other people about it.
Pricing and Tenders: The job advert
Detailed knowledge of the product is one of the most important requirements for successful marketing. And again there are clear similarities with HR. Creating a job advert, including a job description with 'must haves' and 'nice to haves' that are readily understood by applicants, requires professional know-how. The recruiter also needs detailed knowledge of the relevant salary structure, taking into account the type of industry, location and level of professional experience.
Contributing to Product Development: For example through 360 degree feedback
Through its close contact with customers, a sales department can make a valuable contribution to product development. For example, by obtaining customer feedback and passing it on by way of suggestions for improvement and innovation. HR managers have the same opportunities. As a point of contact for both applicants and employees, you also get automatic feedback regarding HR-related services and processes. Alternatively, you can proactively obtain this, for example through 360 degree feedback. Your findings will help the organisation to continually improve its employer brand and remain attractive in the job market.
Image: © Luis Molinero - shutterstock.com