A CHRO Reader Sounds Off: Have HR Vendors Lost Their Ever-Loving Minds?

If you choose to click through and read this, you have experienced a large uptick in the volume and aggressiveness level of pitches from HR vendors.  I could say more to introduce this post, but the best path is just to allow a CHRO friend of mine tell you how he feels.

"Dan" is a CHRO for a large employer in the US with thousands and thousands of employees.  He's a good Sales memesand talented guy is not moved to overreaction.  He sent me and a few other friends this note last Friday to say WTF related to what he's experiencing related to outreach from HR vendors... I changed the names to protect the source and the vendor, see his note and enjoy:

Fellow “Really Cool” HR Friends,

Well, you may object to my sneaky inclusion of myself amongst the hipsters, but I digress . . .

So, my Friday RANT which has been building for years . . . the NUMBER OF ACTUAL SALES (or even sales visits) TO ME THAT HAVE RESULTED FROM INITIAL “MARKETING” like you see below?  Free craft beer if you guess correctly . . .

ZERO.

Who are these people?  I guess they’re at least getting a sniff or two from maybe a .001% population who just cannot say no to a “live” sales call when they read the Oh-So-Compelling email.  But it still bewilders (read: angers) me that the most likely millennial group of sales types have deluded themselves into thinking that with a carpet bomber email blast – from an email list that the “receiver” DID NOT approve – will endear them to the prospect.

Besides, I know who’s behind the “keyboard” on sales emails like John from Schwing below, which now forces me to hit the delete button nigh on 25 times a day, or if I’m feeling Catholic guilt, spend 30 seconds (it adds up) replying “no thanks” politely.  It’s a lovable millennial, who hit send on the mass marketing email from his smartphone while he’s on break at the violent Berkeley protests against free speech (if said speech happens to be lean right).

I have a new personal rule . . . if you prospect me with inane “first approaches” like the below email (and his Co, Schwing, I’m sure is just swell), I will permanently black list you from ever being granted a live audience with me or my team.

Harsh?  No.  Short-sighted?  Probably, but the B.S. marketing has gone too far.  You want bi’ness?  Hold a happy hour in our fair city, and pony up to our SHRM chapter for access.  Let us confirm that you’re not a Watson computer “marketing” to us.  That you actually drink beer or wine. 

And the folks who sell the contact lists should be publicaly hanged in the the park here on our campus so that there’s a good view until the bodies decompose.

Oh, by the way, HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!  And get off of my lawn.

That's an epic rant.  And correct.  His frustration is felt by most of you, who note an uptick in the number of emails, but also in the number and brazenness of the follow ups.  My favorite follow ups to the cited initial emails and calls include:

  1. Did you get my note?  
  2. Did I make you mad?
  3. Please choose one of the following related to why you haven't responded (always includes a playful or fun answer.  Schwing!)
  4. PHONE Only - "This is John, I'm calling you back on the message you left me.  Call me back at XXX.XXX.XXXX".

What I love about America is this - anyone can start their own company.  That includes the HR Space.

What I hate about America is this - anyone can start their own company.  That includes the HR Space.

Honk if you feel Dan's pain.  HR vendors, take note. If you're part of the problem, it's probably time to pivot on your approach.

BONUS - including one of my 100 Best All Time Movie Clips for HR - pitch scene from Boiler Room included below (email subscribers click through for the video):


The Smartest "Hot Take" I've Read About the Microsoft Acquisition of LinkedIn...

Microsoft said last week that it would acquire LinkedIn in a $26.2 billion cash deal. The acquisition, by far the largest in Microsoft’s history, unites two companies in different businesses: one a big maker of software tools, the other the largest business-oriented social networking site, with more than 400 million members globally.

As you would expect, there's been a lot of hot takes related to the reasons from the acquisition, the potential of the deal and what happens next.  See my post for 3 ways Microsoft could change the corporate talent scene with LinkedIn by clicking here.  For the most part, everyone's guessing about the impact and what's next.

That's why this post from John Sumser was my favorite take on the Microsoft/LinkedIn deal.  You can always count on John to get deeper than most observers.  Observe and learn:

"The single largest limitation to growth for LinkedIn is the inability to monetize the real value it delivers. LinkedIn preps knowledge workers for the next meeting. It expands  the individual human capacity to recall and interact with others. It shaves time off the warm up cycle in conversations. It creates multiple additional points of stickiness between people who are not so close. This is how non-mediated job hunting works.

The problem for LinkedIn and its struggling stock is that there is no hard cash in this productivity improvement. LinkedIn turned out to be the single greatest monument to PowerPoint dollars – PP$ (those savings and ROIs that only exist in the presentation justifying a large enterprise purchase.) LinkedIn increased individual efficiency in a way that must be worth trillions of PP$."

You can go read the rest of John's post here.  Smart stuff.  Now take a look at LinkedIn's stock since going public (email subscribers click through if you don't see the image):

LinkedIn Chart

LinkedIn's stock dived from 250 to 100 in 4 months as the market started holding it accountable for results in the absence of earnings.  As REO Speedwagon once said, I believe it's time for me to fly.

To John's point, the things that make LinkedIn most valuable are the ones that are impossible to monetize on their own.  But they are things that the right strategic (as well as giant) partner could justify monetizing as part of a deal.

LinkedIn did what they had to do.  Can Microsoft find a way to monetize the real value of LinkedIn?  It's hard to say, but finding ways to unlock the value of LinkedIn that John alludes to  - perhaps across the Office product line and the CRM business - might be the best chance to print those vapor dollars.  

After all, a dollar of retention is cheaper than a dollar of new revenue.


Yahoo: What Happens When Your Revenue Per Employee Is Upside Down...

Short post today from the road.  A while back I wrote about the virtues of Revenue Per Employee as the only metric that really matters in the end.  I like it because it's a business focused metric, there's lots of ways for skilled HR leaders to impact it (you choose - the possibilities are endless), and, contrary to the naysayers, it has an earnings side tied into it - it's Revenue per Employee people!  The more you reduce your people on the same revenue level, the greater the earnings.

Or, you could keep the same number of people and get more out of them - which equals more revenue and if you do that with the same number of people, you increase earnings almost certainly since people-related costs are the biggest expense for most businesses.

Anyway, here's what happens when your Revenue Per Employee gets upside down:

"Yahoo's turnaround attempt is going to be messy.

CEO Scott Thompson delivered a painful jolt Wednesday with a payroll purge of about 2,000 workers, or about 14 percent of Yahoo's 14,100 employees. The cuts will save about $375 million annually as Yahoo tries to boost its earnings and long-slumping stock price.

As traumatic as the job cuts may be for laid-off workers, Kessler says Yahoo needed to prune its payroll to show Wall Street that the company can be run more efficiently than it has been in recent years.

Last year, Yahoo produced revenue of $353,000 per employee while its two biggest rivals, Internet search leader Google Inc. and social networking leader Facebook Inc., each generated $1.2 million per employee.

Other major technology companies were also far more productive: Microsoft Corp. had about $800,000 in revenue per employee last year, while Intel Corp. posted $540,000 in revenue per employee, according to S&P's data."

Go dig into your revenue per employee.  Do some benchmarking as much as you can with your competitors - it will be educational for sure.


Here's the Money Quote of the Day to Impress Your CFO (or Friends In Finance)...

Don't act like you don't need it, HR.  You want me on this wall, you NEED me on this wall.

Here's a quote to get your friends in Finance chuckling and then quoting something you said repeatedly on and off for the next year:

"Costs are like fingernails.  They grow organically and must be cut regularly."

Boom.  You're welcome.

Quote comes to you from my travels this week, from an organization that - let's just say - values fiscal responsibility...

You think it sounds hokey?  That's OK, use it playfully (I'd use it in the voice of Carl from Caddyshack) to lighten the mood so the Finance folks don't think you're taking yourself too seriously.

Deliver this one right, and they'll quote you - HR - often.  That seems like a good place to be with kids from Finance.