Wanna Sell to HR people… Don’t be a Bug a Boo

I’ve been going through some “old school” pop in my Spotify (shout out to all my #HRMusicShare peeps) playlist and Destiny Child’s Bug A Boo has been on my mind— because I feel like I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic, its a catchy song. This time of year an HR person can get pretty popular 🙂 — your phone, LinkedIn, and email may start blowing up from people wanting to sell something to you.

It can make you want to hide a little bit… but don’t sweat it.  Let me walk though some realizations that I had several years ago and a list of some of my “suggestions.”

When it comes to sales, you probably totally get that one has to make sales and cold calls. You get that you attend conferences, webinars, meetings and that by filling out the forms or putting my business card in a large fish bowl, you’re likely going to get a sales call about services that you might be interested in. I bt you also get the concept of  warm leads and follow up. You get sales — you buy stuff (or sell things) all the time.

However, what many of us don’t get is some of the aggressive tactics that some organizations take.

In general, for me,  I like to know what is out in the industry and in the market — so I’m generally pretty happy to do a demo and see what one has to offer. After all, I may not be looking for something now, but maybe in the future — or I may know of a colleague who is looking (… hmmm, this concept is sounding a lot like good networking practices in general).

In all likelihood I may actually be interested in the product or service, but the timing is all wrong. It doesn’t mean “not interested ever” but “not right now.”

Things like calling several times a day, asking to connect only to follow up immediately with a sales lead, asking me lots of leading and probing questions — well it kinda puts me in an awkward position and… could make you want to run and hide.

You know, I sold Mary Kay for a while (long story), but I used to get slammed all the time from the people in my unit that I wasn’t aggressive enough with closing the sale or massing a huge stack of “leads”… but its not how I like to sell things and its not how I like to be sold to. My style is more it to establish a rapport and then throw in, oh by the way, I sell Mary Kay, and then continue on. Its a plant. I generally wouldn’t sell anything that day, but I’d get follow up at a later time and generally had great repeat customers.  It was stress-free — they knew I had product that they were interested in and when they followed up, I knew that they had a genuine interest in learning more (and for me, that was where some of the real work came in).  My way, was just trying to meet and talk to people, put a bug in your ear, and then see who might be really interested. Some people would (and did) say that I was lazy .. but I thought it to be strategic. But then again, what do I know about selling anything… pink Cadillac never I had. Maybe I was doing it wrong. I’m just a girl in HR.  😉

My point, people should be running towards you and not away from you and you should be working with them at THEIR pace. It should be sincere and genuine. Not pushy or forced. We all  get quotas…. and commissions…  but I think you’ve also got to get people and how to be effective so that you’re spending time in the right place.

Okay.. .so enough about what we get and don’t get… here are some of my suggestions:

  • Do send a quick follow up email after a meeting, webinar, event, etc and say a bit about yourself, HOW WE MET (important) and some of your services – strike while the iron is hot.
  • If sending a LinkedIn connection be transparent about WHY you want to connect, especially if we don’t know each other. If we met at an event for sure throw that in there — helps make a human connection. If we don’t know each other, the first message shouldn’t be about what you want to sell me. Don’t use “connections” for that, that is more appropriate for the inmails or offers feature of LinkedIn.
  • Call once, but that’s it (maybe twice). I may be in meetings, out of the office, in training, busy, or not interested. All valid reasons. I’ll find you if I want to know more.
  • Do follow up with other information that I may find helpful, but don’t spam me and sign me up for all your email lists so that I’m getting one a day (or multiple) — that’s just going to annoy me and send all your stuff to the junk folder.  Back to my example, I might send out a quarterly letter of helpful skin care tips (often not even calling out my products) — just a reminder that I’m helpful and “still there.”
  • D0 ask for a good time to follow up or when might this be a more relevant time to talk.
  • Don’t take it personally, sometimes the answer is “no” .. that’s okay.
  • Take a hint… if not getting a response, its likely not the right time or the right contact, or it could be your style/approach– consider backing off a bit or trying to re-engage if you’ve started on the wrong foot
  • Show sincere interest in me as a person- its not just about selling me something, its about starting a relationship.
  • Don’t be pushy, rude, aggressive — meet people at where they are in the process. There is no wrong place to be.
  • Don’t try to call my colleagues and ask them to send a message to me or get them to call you back — in the ballpark of being too pushy and aggressive.
  • Be memorable, but for the right reasons.

Remember, people talk and share — so even if the answer is “no” or “not now” from me, if I have a good experience, I’m likely to pass you on — and even more likely to tell colleagues to of a bad experience if you’ve been to pushy.

So these are some of my thoughts and suggestions.. what are yours?

Making the HR connection, yours,

Still don’t know what a “bug a boo” is… check it out for yourself, consider it a bit of “its not news, its a distraction” treat for you.  Be forewarned, its a *catchy* song (and great to work out to).

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