In 2019, a major HR association conducted a survey of its membership and was startled to discover that the largest single cohort wasn’t practitioners working in one traditional HR job or another. There were, of course, many who were engaged in compensation and benefits, performance management and HRIS. The largest group, however, was recruiters.
How could that be?
Well, as it turns out, many HR Departments apparently consider recruiting an appropriate entry level job for those in the HR field. So, while there are certainly seasoned recruiters in those Departments, there are also more than a few individuals working in their first full-time job. They accept the assignment (for that’s what it is) not because they know anything at all about recruiting or even have any interest in it. They do it because they see recruiting as a stepping stone to real HR work.
What’s that mean for talent acquisition technology companies?
It simply confirms what many solution providers experience every day. There is no steady state TA technology customer today, at least among those working for mid-sized and enterprise employers. Many of the recruiters in these organizations do their “penance” in talent acquisition and then move on to what they view as the good stuff.
The resulting churn virtually guarantees that the level of expertise in any given organization will not be constant, but instead will continuously change as current team members leave and new replacements arrive. Given this reality, talent acquisition technology companies must avoid two prospective traps in their business development:
• First, they must not assume that a customer’s entire recruiting team is as technically adept as its most expert member. Instead, they must prepare for and appropriately support individuals who represent a wide spectrum of technical knowledge, including some who will be true beginners in the use of technology-based recruiting products.
• And second, they must also not assume that everyone on a customer’s recruiting team will have heard of their company or have any awareness of its products and services. Instead, they must accept that, no matter how long they’ve been working with a customer, there will always be some on the team with whom they must initiate and build a relationship.
These are not unusual requirements (although now we understand better why they exist), but the Covid-19 pandemic does make it more difficult to address them. Instead of face-to-face introductions, demos and training sessions, TA tech companies must now adopt virtual approaches to education and relationship building.
The key to success, however, is to go beyond simply moving everything online. Anybody can do that, and everybody now is. A better strategy is to take today’s standard digital programs and enrich them with a little differentiating imagination. For example:
One of the easiest ways to educate and reinforce relationships with customers is to invite them to attend a digital TA conference. There are more than a few such events now being held, and most of these events, at least for HR / TA practitioners.
The goal in making an invitation is two-fold: First, of course, is showcase your company’s thought leadership, so whenever possible, bias the invitations to those conferences where your company is presenting. If that’s not an option, here’s another way to get the job done with a little imagination:
• Unlike company-delivered webinars and training programs, public digital conferences are often seen as less biased and a source of more credible educational content. To get a share of that positive perspective, use WhatsApp, text messaging or some other channel to carry on a private contemporaneous dialogue with your customers during the event. Use it to expand on the content as it’s delivered, thereby demonstrating the company’s thought leadership while targeting key ideas and lessons for customers.
The second goal in inviting customers to a public digital event is, of course, relationship building. The invitation itself will help to do that, but here’s something else you can do to add a little creativity to the experience:
• Unlike traditional in-person conferences, there is no risk that your customers will be poached by competitors while at a virtual event, which means that you can (and should) invite as many as possible. Then, brand the experience as your own by holding a private online social event at the conclusion of the conference. It could be a moderated chat that encourages the discussion of key lessons learned or a virtual cocktail reception, but regardless of the approach, use it to put the faces of both your team and the customers on the monitor at the same time.
The requirement for customer education and relationship building hasn’t disappeared just because in-person events have been discontinued. In fact, given the turnover in recruiter ranks, it’s never been more important. The key to success is to transform ordinary digital conferences into extraordinary customer experiences by adding a dash of imagination.