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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 . . .


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):


J Briggs

Love this! I had a pre-paid legal sales person, who I declined multiple times, send a note to my boss, the CEO. It said "I want you to know that your HR representative does not care for your employees and I hope that you will require her to speak with me" blah, blah, blah. Anyone who knows my work knows that I am absolutely an advocate for employees. Fortunately, so did she. (Not to mention we did have a legal assistant benefit) He was officially on the do not speak with list for-ev-er.

Another odd bit - whenever we made a best-to-work-for list sales people would come out of the woodwork. I wondered if they thought that if we were a best-of company that we probably had at least the fundamentals locked down. I get if if your trying to sell me something innovative, new, or fresh to help us raise the bar even higher, but comm'on, really?

Denise Cooper

I too had to respond to this one. I'm a consultant and it sickens me to see the increased volume of sales spammers. Being out here listening to all the "sales geniuses" tell "want a be sales" people all they need to do is set up auto campaigns with multiple "touches" and guilty "Please call me" messages is insulting and just plain rude.

This post should be copied and sent as standard replies. Maybe then it will stop. Oh who am I kidding. It's easier to put your headphones on and push send than spend some time getting to know a real person. Thanks for sharing and letting me rant too.


This article also supports my reasons for declining a lot of LinkedIn requests these days!

Lori Knowles

I share the pain on this one. I probably get 3 or 4 of these a DAY. Luckily our IT group labels everything coming from outside as EXTERNAL. Makes it easier to sort and delete.


I hate when they don't do the simple research ahead of time. "Hey, couldn't XYZ company use this service to improve blah, blah, blah?"
"Well, since I haven't worked at that company in several years and my LinkedIn profile says so, I'd have to say I don't know what that company needs. I DON"T WORK THERE!"

Roll Up Doors

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.


TM Systems

Loved to read this. Our company provides clients with customised, high quality technology solutions in the main areas of public address, professional audio, network and equipment management and information systems on a large scale.

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