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The “other” Strategic HR Partnership

There have been a lot of articles and blog posts over the past two plus years that highlight the importance of HR formulating strategic partnerships with Finance. Most of these articles focus on why HR needs to be a “strategic business partner” and in order to be effective, they list why HR needs to partner with Finance in particular (i.e. the CFO). This is so that HR can understand “the numbers” interpret “big data” and show the “ROI” on their HR programs, etc. I do agree with this position completely and feel that an effective relationship between these two departments is essential for organizational success.

I do, however, feel there is another really critical (and sometimes overlooked) relationship that HR should be focusing on as well. That is, the relationship that HR has with Sales (and by sales, I am not just referring to Marketing. This relationship, while often overlooked, can actually formulate quite the strategic partnership. When you think about it, the two depts. have very similar interests. Sales wants to promote the organization’s brand (as it pertains to its products and services) and HR wants to promote the organization’s employment brand. Sales is in the business of attracting new customers while HR is in the business of attracting new/potential employees. Sales focuses a lot on branding and communication to an external audience; HR has the same responsibilities except with the added focus on an internal (current employees) base. The key is to find ways to marry up these shared interests and work together to leverage the strengths of the two departments.

HandshakeWhat you typically see in organizations is Sales and HR go about their business as two mutually exclusive entities, perhaps even rarely, if ever, crossing paths. When you think about it though, that is quite bizarre. It has been my experience that collectively, Sales and HR can formulate a pretty solid partnership. It can begin with something as innocuous as say, the development or rebranding of a trade show booth. Sales and HR should be aligned in how trade show booths and recruiting booths look, ‘feel’ and appeal to their audiences. The overall look, feel and messaging should be in complete alignment with the organization’s brand messaging. Sales and HR need to be aligned on what the brand actually is that they are trying to portray – both overall and the employment brand. At the end of the day, when you are recruiting candidates, a huge part of the candidate” sell” is leveraging the sales messaging/content and aligning it with your employment brand. The beauty of this synergy is that when you make it work, you will find out that Sales, which often has a much greater budget than HR, will front a lot of your collateral cost and help you with the promotion of the material!

Another way (reason) that Sales and HR can and should be partnering is on the development and promotion of your company LinkedIn page. I have blogged about company pages before in terms of how to make your company page effective, but the collaboration between Sales and HR is essential to making it effective. Sales has a vested interest in the company page as it is essentially a showcase of the company’s products and services. With Sales and HR partnering, the company page can have a uniform look and feel – one that aligns with sales and recruiting collateral and that portrays the organizational brand (inc. the employment brand). Sales can be the driving force behind providing relevant content in the areas in which the company is expanding, recent sales wins, new sales alliances, etc.

Both HR and Sales should be looking to use the LinkedIn company page for communication and recruitment purposes. Sales wants the company page to be promotable, appealing and drive action, all of which is done by having relevant content. This in turn will allow the company page to become a landing page for prospective customers, business inquiries, referrals and recommendations. HR’s role is to partner here and expand on this content to make sure it appeals to both prospective candidates and to your internal employees. That way, your page (and its content) gets shared, you foster internal and external communication and your Talent Brand Index grows. Bottom line – the partnership with Sales is a win-win, it just might take a bit of convincing for Sales to get on board!

At the end of the day, my advice to you is to not forget about that ‘other’ strategic HR partnership, so reach out to your Sales Director and get that relationship moving forward. Align your common goals and communication strategy – the LinkedIn company page is a great place to start this and have these common goals working together. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Image courtesy of stockimages/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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