Ten Sales Tips for HR Vendors

In my line of work, I get a lot of sales people contacting me and by a lot, I mean A LOT. I’ve received countless LinkedIn messages from account executives trying to sell the only recruitment solution you’ll ever need. Voicemails from people claiming to have met me during conferences and emails from sales reps assigned to follow-up duty after webinars.

From what I’ve gathered, most of these sales representatives need additional training, because their pitch just stinks. If you want real sales advice from an HR Corporate Practitioner … read on! Incorporating some or all of these tips into your recruitment-solution-platform-social media-job board-community-thingy sales strategy will help you achieve your goals.

Ten Sales Tips for HR Vendors

1. Don’t oversell your product via a spammy-sounding LinkedIn message. No one has the one recruitment solution that will produce everything that HR needs to meet hiring goals. There is no silver bullet … stop trying to sell one. Be real and realistic.

2. Refrain from sending the same spammy message to everyone in HR from ABC Company that you find on LinkedIn. HR co-workers talk to one another. All of us getting the same, generic sales email makes you look bad and that “inmail” will get deleted.

3. Don’t lie about how you found my contact information. If you lie about that, how can I trust you to sell me something good? Be honest with me.

4. Send meeting requests that include online meeting links and conference bridge numbers. However, if it’s just you and one person from HR on the line, you don’t need a conference bridge … just call the person directly and on time.

5. Research your prospect ahead of time to gain a better understanding of their business, location(s), employment value proposition, and any products they are currently utilizing that are “in your space.” If you’re selling a Facebook recruitment solution, you should at the very least visit ABC Company’s Facebook page.

6. Keep the demo concise and don’t fill it with sales-speak or a long-winded history of the company. HR people are smarter than that and don’t have time for it. Instead, structure an impactful conversation in which you ask poignant questions and then seek to provide a useful solution. If you can’t sell your product in less than an hour, then you’re complicating things way too much.

7. Be ready to share the facts. As an HR Project Manager who vets a lot of recruitment solutions, I want data, case studies and real life examples. You should be prepared to answer an onslaught of questions during the initial call. Sales Account Managers should have expert knowledge of the product(s) they are trying to sell.

8. Don’t talk at me, talk to me and by all means, slow down. I’ve been on too many sales calls in which the consultants talk way too fast, almost as if they are trying to hide something.

9. If you are co-presenting with a colleague, practice the pitch before you both present. Don’t let the presentation turn into a dog and pony show. Both presenters need to know the facts and product, and support each other’s statements. Co-presenters should complement each other, not compete with one another.

10. Have a few references ready to share or, at the very least, a list of clients who are currently utilizing the product. Ultimately, many HR professionals will want the name and number of a reference whom we can call. (We HR people are good at reference checking.)

Quotes to Live By in the Sales World

I leave you now with a few great sales quotes — food for thought, if you will — to assist you in gaining inroads with companies in which you want to do business.

“Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman, not the attitude of the prospect.” — William Clement Stone

“If you work just for money, you’ll never make it. But if you love what you are doing, and always put the customer first, success will be yours.” — Ray Kroc

“You don’t close a sale, you open a relationship if you want to build a long-term, successful enterprise.” — Patricia Fripp

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Shannon Smedstad

Shannon Smedstad has nearly 20 years of recruitment, employer branding, and communications experience. Currently, she serves as the Principal Employer Brand Strategist at exaqueo. Previously, she held employer branding and recruiting leadership roles at CEB and GEICO. She’s a work at home mom raising two awesome girls who also enjoys reading, running, leading a Girl Scout troop, and her morning coffee. You can connect with Shannon on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Reader Interactions


  1. Jason Kane says

    Thank you for the clear information. This has been conveyed to my sales team and nice to read this from those that we are marketing to. I appreciate the honesty and advice to make our jobs more successful.

    Jason Kane

  2. Karen K. says

    And qualify, qualify, qualify. Make sure you’re talking to the right person and you know the organization’s situation (at least a little) before you go into your pitch. I spent 20 years on the sales side of the equation, and all of your points are perfect. Now that I’m on the other side, I hate the bad calls. I go into sales manager mode.

  3. Jérôme Isaert says

    Great article, points 5,6 and 7 are at the top of “my” priority list.

    Thanks for sharing your view,


    • Shannon Smedstad says

      Ultimately, companies buy the product or service, but the soft skills of the representatives we deal with are important factors. Good luck to you!

  4. Jamil Ahmed says

    Your advice is invaluable for sales people and those wanting build new business relationships. The late Stephen Covey said that nothing travels faster than trust. Therefore honesty is the best policy, it is also the basis of trust between people. So, thanks for your article Shannon.

  5. Matt Hudson says


    A+ on this article! Especially with HR people, we are trying to build a long-term relationship, not close a used car sale.
    My only negative about your writing is that now all my competitors will know how to sell to HR the right way ;-(.
    Well done!

  6. Shannon Smedstad says

    Spammy sales email went to several of my recruiters today … it’s just not a good sales tactic or in good taste to do that, in my humble opinion. It was from a CEO, too!

  7. Cyndy Trivella says

    Great post Shannon and some spot on advice, indeed!

    You bring up a very good point about soft skills. When someone works in sales the relationships that are forged, the rapport that is built and the trust that is earned, are worth their weight in gold.

    As Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”


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