How to Get Buy-In for Your Next HR Tech Purchase: the HR Tech Roadshow

BY -

Phil Strazzulla

December 13, 2019

Today we’re going to go through a bulletproof playbook that will result in the necessary internal buy in needed to successfully buy new HR technology.

Make no mistake: buying HR and TA software is really difficult.  There are too many vendors, opaque pricing, and often a lot internal stakeholders.  Plus, there’s that whole day job thing you’ve got going with keeping employees happy, and filling new reqs.

The most common reason new HR tools fail is a lack of buy in from the rest of the organization.  This usually manifests in one of three ways:

  1. HR/TA can’t get budget for the new initiative
  2. The implementation is a failure as it relies upon adoption across the organization
  3. The initiative gets blocked by another stakeholder outside of HR/TA

The Real Issue

Let’s face it, HR and talent acquisition are thought of mostly as cost centers.  The executive team wants to squeeze as much juice out as possible, with as little investment as possible.  It’s not fair, not rationale, but it’s reality for many teams.

Of course, there are exceptions.  But, the barrier for human resources to break through and get new tools can be really high–even if new software is desperately needed.

Beyond this, most executives are insanely busy and don’t have the headspace to think through what a new ATS may bring to the table, or why an hr chatbot is a good investment.

So it’s on us to clearly articulate why, how, and what we’ll get from this new investment.

Enter, The HR Tech Roadshow

A roadshow typically happens when a company is trying to go public.  They make a presentation about what a great business they have, and then get investors to buy into their company, one presentation at a time.

HR can use the same formula to get executive buy in for new initiatives.  It’s all about creating the right presentation, and then getting 30 minutes with each of the key stakeholders in your business.

The Presentation

Your roadshow presentation should have a few key parts.

  • Pain Points: What is the business pain that is happening as a result of not having the tool you want?  Maybe this is a lack of new customers because there aren’t enough sales people, or a poorly executed product due to high churn in the engineering ranks.  This about how this pain is impacting the KPIs that the c-suite cares about.
  • Why: Why is this pain happening?  There may be macro factors such as a tight labor market.  There are also factors specific to your business that the new software will alleviate such as a lack of recruiter capacity or low employee engagement.
  • What/How: Here is where you introduce the solution, what it does, and how it’ll help.  Be as specific as possible with vendors you’ve talked to, their capabilities, pricing, and comparison to alternatives.  This is the meat of the presentation.
  • Results: Detail your best estimate of what may happen after you implement.  Again, tie this back to dollars and cents (the KPIs the board/c-suite cares about) - this is the language of the executive team.

Here’s an example:

  • Pain: We can’t hire enough sales people and are falling short by 10 new hires each quarter.  We know that a typical sales person does $1 mm of new bookings in their first year, and $1.5 mm in their second year.  So, each quarter we fall behind by 10 * (1 + 1.5) = $25 mm of bookings which would’ve come over the next two years.
  • Why: We are recruiting in an amazingly tight labor market, the average unemployment rate in our target geographies is 2%.  Also, we are a B2B company which means that the majority of our applicants have never heard of us.  This means we have to put in more effort to convince candidates to talk to us.
  • What/How: We want to launch an employer branding initiative that will revamp our online presence (Glassdoor, LinkedIn, career site, and a few regionally focused blogs that our talent demographic hangs out on).  More brand familiarity will allow our recruiters to get better response rates with candidate outreach.  It will also drive more applicants into our hiring funnel through awareness campaigns.  This will cost us $75,000 and take 3 months to implement and is better than buying new talent sourcing tools as it’ll also impact the rest of our hiring.
  • Results: We believe we’ll see Inmail response rates increase 10%, which means each recruiter can hire another 1 person per quarter given we hire 7% of people who respond to our Inmails.  This closes the gap by 5 hires per quarter, and equates to $12.5 mm of bookings over the next five years.  We’ll also expect to increase the conversion rate on our career site from 5% to 7%, which means another 400 applicants, which translates to 5 more hires per quarter.  This fully closes the gap of 10 missed sales hires per quarter.  

Hopefully this structure is useful to see as a framework, as well as an example.  Here is a PowerPoint template you can use as well.

The Audience

Start as early as possible to get in front of the most important stakeholders in your company: CEO, CMO, CFO, CTO, etc.  In a larger company, you may be looking at VPs or Directors instead of the c-suite.  And, if you’re far along in the buying process, you may be looking to do this with 1-2 people vs 5-6.

Snag 30 minutes on their calendar, and let them know you want to get their advice on an initiative you’re considering.  People love to give advice.

Go through the presentation slide by slide, controlling the conversation.  Of course, take questions as they come.  But, don’t let this conversation get derailed by the random tangents many of our top business minds are prone to.  Stick to the topic at hand – and remind them you only have 30 minutes to chat!

The ask here is to get their blessing: “So, you agree I’m thinking about this correctly?”

Getting even a verbal buy-in here allows you to say, “Ok great, I’ll keep you in the loop on how this progresses.”  From here, keep them in the loop!  If there is a big update, let them know.  More likely, it’ll be small updates on a monthly or bi-weekly basis.  Put a reminder in your calendar to send them a quick note so they feel a part of what you’re doing.

The Results

Getting the key stakeholders in your business onboard early for any new initiative is essential in making it a success.

Now, you have powerful allies when you need help getting the budget for your new initiative.  When the CFO says “No,” you’ve got the CTO in your corner explaining why it’s worth the money and why they care.

You can also circumvent the random stakeholder who always seems to come out of the woodwork late in a project’s life by having one of your allies let them know why this is a priority.

Lastly, having cross functional buy in at the senior level is important for implementation of most HR tech – which typically involves getting employees onboard.  The best way to do that of course is to start with the why, and have it articulated through the voice of a functional leader vs HR.

There you have it: a gameplan for creating your very own roadshow with the end goal of getting your new initiative across the finish line.  Feel free to customize this formula to fit your use case, and let us know if you learn anything we should be sharing on this topic!

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