I Hate It When HR Pros Think They’re Equal to Sales Pros…

Kris Dunn Always Be Closing, Kris Dunn

Editors Note – Tim Sackett and Kris Dunn did a FOT session in Omaha yesterday at HRAMsee the preso here, session titled “How to Raise Your HR Game by Thinking Like a Money-Hungry VP of Sales“. While we’re in that train of thought, we’re rebroadcasting this joint by KD since we promised some folks in Omaha that we would – enjoy…

True Fact – Too few HR pros get the fact that when it comes down to it, the sales reps for your organization – who come in many flavors – are the backbone of any company.

This rant is brought to you by… me listening to whining from HR pros at different companies over the past
month… about salespeople . . . their compensation, their moral code, yadda, yadda, yadda…

Let’s face it – Sales Pros are the ones who bring home the bacon, so everyone else can fry it up in the pan.  They’re the hunters, you’re the farmer.  They start from a scoreboard that says “0” every month, while we’re still trying to figure out what a scoreboard looks like for most positions in the organization.

You’re an administrator, they book revenue.  Get it yet?

Meanwhile, the smart money ponders the mystic skill of the sales pro, like this clip from Ben Stein at the New York Times:

“Sales — when done right — is more than a job. It is an art. It is a high-wire act. It is, as Arthur Miller immortally said, being out there “on a smile and a shoe shine.” It is learning the product you are selling, learning it so well that you can describe it while doing a pirouette of smiles for the customer and talking about the latest football scores. It is knowing human nature so well that you can align the attributes of your product or service cleanly with the needs and wants of your customers.

At its best, selling is taking a doubt and turning it, jujitsu style, into a powerful push. Selling is making the customer feel better about spending money — or investing it — than he would have felt by keeping his wallet zipped.

I have special memories of people who have sold brilliantly.

In 1976, when I moved to Los Angeles, I desperately wanted a Mercedes 450 SLC, a car that was — even in used form — far more than I deserved or could afford at my entry-level, highly tenuous work as a scriptwriter. My salesman at Mercedes-Benz of Beverly Hills, Larry Anish, listened to my objections and simply asked, “Don’t you believe in your own future?” Of course, I bought the car.”

Here’s the reason for my rant: Many HR pros I know wonder a little bit about the motivation of sales professionals in their organization.  “Their only motivation is money” is a common refrain, spoken like the person has an open canker sore on their mouth and they may have touched it inadvertently or put the pen of said sales pro in their mouth…

If you’ve ever felt that way about the sales pros in your organization, repeat after me:  You need them to want to make hundreds of thousands of dollars.  You want them to be that good.  You have no right as an HR Pro to feel poorly about your compensation compared to a high end sales pro.  If you were wired to do that job, you’d be there. You’re not there.  That’s not you.

Guess what?  The market pays for those who drag the carcass home to the tribe.

Now, the next refrain from the “we’re all created equal” HR crowd is that sales can sometimes act unethically to close the deal.  Without question, we need our sales pros to be ethical.  But don’t EVER (EVER!) think the art of sales described by Stein above is unethical.  You’ve got the customer at the decision point.  You appeal to emotion, to comfort, to get the sale done.

You call it manipulation.  I call it the art of sales – dealing with objections.

Remember, like Nicholson in “A Few Good Men” – you want them on that wall.  You need them on that wall…

So, stop whining and start treating them (the good ones who can close) like the rockstars they are.

Kris Dunn
Kris Dunn is a Partner and CHRO at Kinetix, a national RPO firm for growth companies headquartered in Atlanta. He's also the founder Fistful of Talent (founded in 2008) and The HR Capitalist (2007) – and has written over 70 feature columns at Workforce Management magazine. Prior to his investment at Kinetix, Kris served in HR leadership roles at DAXKO, Charter and Cingular. In his spare time, KD hits the road as a speaker and gives the world what it needs – pop culture references linked to Human Capital street smarts.