Some readers might know that in addition to being the Program Co-Chair of the HR Technology Conference that additionally I write a monthly column for Human Resource Executive (magazine and online), titled Inside HR Tech. The latest Inside HR Tech piece 'Being a Better Consumer' posted earlier this week, and I wanted to share a little bit of the piece here (since I liked the piece and I think it relevant to many of the blog readers here).
From Human Resource Executive - 'Being a Better Consumer'
Recently I had the opportunity to talk with executives and product leaders from a small group of HR technology start-up solution providers. The conversations were primarily focused on these start-ups’ product offerings, their positions in the market and their various approaches to development, software user experience and deployment. It was really interesting stuff for a HR tech columnist for sure!
But some of the most interesting and engaging elements of the conversations with these providers was hearing from them about their challenges dealing with prospects and customers in the sales, contract negotiation, implementation and post-live support processes.
They shared some of the specific obstacles they've come across when educating, trying to sell to, and lastly, finalizing contract agreements with HR leaders and organizations. I thought it would make sense to share what they shared and offer some tips for HR leaders to be better customers.
Though the start-ups, themselves, are small, many of their customers are quite large, even global organizations.
And while some of what they had to say was certainly flavored by their relative small size and inexperience, I know for sure from having worked for very large HR-tech providers (and customers), that many of these buying process issues are common no matter what the HR-tech vendor’s and the customer’s current size may be. Big company or small, these kinds of challenges arise all the time. So here, without further delay and presented in no specific order, are my tips for being a better HR-tech customer:
Define and share your decision process/timeline.
Once the initial contact is made between your HR organization and the HR-technology provider, you -- as a customer -- can significantly assist the overall process by sharing with the tech vendor the motivations behind your inquiry, the specific business needs or problems you are hoping to address, and -- most importantly -- details about your internal decision making process and desired timelines for the technology decision to be made will
Many of the start-up vendors shared their frustration with long and winding product education/demonstration cycles with customers that seemed to have no end in sight.
Even if that “end” is a decision not to purchase, the vendors are often better off getting that information sooner in order to shift their time and resources to other prospects.
And if your decision process, (for whatever reason), is long, that is fine too, just be up front with the vendor early on so they can align their resources and expectations.
Explain your purchase approval and payment process.
As a customer.....
(catch the rest of the piece at Human Resource Executive online
I invite blog readers interested in these longer form HR tech pieces to subscribe to get every Inside HR Tech column in convenient email form. I would also invite suggestions and ideas for future Inside HR Tech columns.
Have a great weekend!