I'm on record as saying that HR pros can learn a lot from Sales Pros.
At the top of the list is learning to negotiate. Of all the negotiation skills available, the most valuable one is the first-strike position, or more to the point, simply asking for what you want. Check out the example given by a VC I love to read, then I'll give you three scenarios you can force yourself or your team into to practice the skill.
Because if you get over your fear, you quickly learn that no one dies when you ask. Most people actually want to give you what you ask for, mainly because they get asked so rarely.
More from Mark Suster at Both Sides of the Table:
When I lived and worked in London my wonderful assistant was Deborah Halliday, who was raised a very “proper” British young lady. Her brother played rugby for the English rugby team and went to Oxford. That’s kind of like having a brother in the NFL in the US.
If there was any society in which being a hustler was out of step with the norm is was England. Yet I was a foreigner so I got away with being different.
I used to ask Deborah to book my travel plans in France and Germany were I went 1-2 times / month. There were online tools to book this stuff but the Internet booking sites were early.
I would tell Deborah, “I found this hotel near the Champs Elysees for 170 Euros. But I don’t want to pay that much. Tell them I’ll stay if they’ll give it to me for 120 Euros.
“What? You want … what?”
“Mark. You can’t do that! You can’t just name your own price.”
Me. “Of course I can. Tell them you found a hotel down the street for 100 Euros but I prefer to stay at their hotel. Haggle. See what you can do.
Deborah. She was mortified. Bless her cotton socks. I put her outside of her comfort zone.
Me. “Deborah. You don’t ask, you don’t get! What’s the worst they can tell you? “No?” If so, we’ll call back an hour later and pay 170 Euros. It’s not like they’re going to tell you ‘no’ in an hour. You might as well try!”
Classic Mexican Road strategy.
Here’s the thing. They NEVER said ‘no.’ Such were the times. They weren’t fully occupied.
She began to love it. It was liberating. I taught her to make it a game. I would challenge her to see how cheap she could get rooms. I can still hear her giggle at how ridiculous it was in her mind’s eye. And yet how eye opening it was that you could have almost anything you wanted. If you just asked.
You gotta ask. Want to practice as an HR pro? Here's three scenarios where you can ask for what you want - but most HR pros never do:
1. You have a candidate who has told you they need 75K. They're currently making 68K. Offer them 69K and pitch - tell them why it's a great deal.
2. You've got a meeting you're hosting and need a conference room - call a hotel and ask for the room for free, on a date they usually have a hard time filling.
3. The next time someone tells you that you're holding them up from making a term that needs to happen, immediately tell them you should go talk to the person that manages them- now - to have a robust conversation on the risk and what has and hasn't happened to that point.
In short, ask for what you want. If you're part of the 95% that the Suster references in his complete post (and it's probably higher in HR), you need the practice.
Start teeing it up - no one gets hurt. All they can say is "no".