“They’ll buy anything” – 10 steps to selling terrible software to Human Resources Departments

There’s so much investment in HR and Recruiting tech at the moment there’s never been a better time to monezite your confirmation bias, join the chorus of “Recruitment is broken!” and release a tool that ignores the “human” in Human Resources!
 

Now all that stands in your way are the shadowy, purse-string wrangling HR directors.  How can we get past them?  Here are ten things you can do right now to start up, cash in, sell out and bro down!

STEP ONE – Say “It has an algorithm”.

First of don’t worry if you don’t know what an algorithm is, neither do the majority of buyers of HR software.  What they will know is that the internet services and companies they have heard of all have algorithms.  They all use Google and the more savvy amongst them might use terms like “matching” or “ranking”, in these cases it’s best to just keep saying that your new tool has an algorithm and to look knowingly at them.  Remember it’s always good practice to use the strength of your algorithm to cover up horrific design choices.  If a prospective customer is thinking about buying another tool be sure to belittle it and claim that the ugly, clunky interface you preside over is “hardcore computer science”.

STEP TWOHold them to a lengthy “implementation period”.

Remember the good old days when we all sold databases and they had to buy hardware and software to make it (sort of) work? Sadly the wealth of better software in other areas has made HR buyers expect more before signing those contracts.  Help indemnify your company against any expected or promised service levels by insisting on a lengthy “implementation period”.  In almost every other discipline software is now sold as a service, like a utility with data stored on servers in the cloud.  Tell your buyers this is insecure and “a risk”. The mention of “risk” is the kryptonite of the HR department.


STEP THREEDon’t have a API – Make them pay extra if they want to use their existing data or integrate with another tool!

After you’ve held your buyer to the customary length implementation period it’s time to deliver half of the functionality they originally requested.  Be sure to leave out any particular features that they liked when they saw the software as these can be added later as “modules” and priced accordingly. Similarly if they’d like to import their existing candidate or employee database make sure that you charge for this.  Remember – Compatibility is for wimps! Why would you want to let them use another tool that’s better than yours? Make exporting that data just as difficult as importing it was!


STEP FOURThey’ll want “analytics” – Add a graph!

If you’ve been to any of the conferences you’ll have heard that “Big Data” is the next cool thing to have.  You should start by dropping into conversation that your tool/app/rebranded ATS has a “Big Data approach”.  Don’t worry about getting called out on this, like “algorithm” it’s one of the #HRTech magic words.  You will however have to ensure that you provide some “analytics” to your users.  It’s important to either not measure anything that will encourage the user to ask more questions or to make generating a report on the data so impregnable and counter intuitive that the user will rely on the templates included and not be encouraged to expect anything that is of real use.

STEP FIVE Advertise it as “White-labelled” – Allow them to upload a low resolution jpeg of their logo.

“Culture” is so hot right now. When selling to HR and Recruitment buyers tell them that your software can help them “differentiate” themselves and “level the playing field”.  For most of your buyers “culture” will probably boil down to them uploading a photo of their office and a logo.  Let them do this and maybe even let them link to their Pinterest page.  If your buyer talks a lot about their unique culture remember to always refer to candidates and applicants as a “talent pool” they’ll love it.


STEP SIXCopy a competitor’s tool.

There are so many products available for recruiters and HR professionals out there at the moment that there will undoubtedly be a tool that does the same thing as the software you’re selling, probably better too.  It’s not enough just to rely on buyer ignorance or indifference.  In some cases it will be prudent and ensure the sale, to implement a “sort of” feature that does “almost” the same thing.  Don’t worry that it’s not as good as the original tool you’ve copied you’ll still hit the requirement on the buyer’s checklist and there won’t be any comeback as they are invariably not the ones who’ll have to use it!

The best thing about these MSF’s (minimum saleable features) is that with enough of them you can call the resultant Frankenstein’s monster a “platform” and make even loftier claims.  Whilst the most prudent recruiters will use the right tool for the right job it will pay you to remember that the buyers aren’t the users here and if you can sell them the dream of seamless interaction they’ll be nice and blinkered later on when the reality is a cobbled together hotchpotch of “almost tools”.

STEP SEVENSay it’s “Social”.

The “social” bandwagon is still trundling along nicely and whilst the forerunners have already realised it takes time and a personality to be truly social, there’s still money to be made from those wanting a shortcut.  A link to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn should be enough, remember the best thing is that “social” can’t be owned by a service provider, instead it relies on the user investing time and authenticity – if it fails it’s never the tools fault! Brilliant!

It’s important as a vendor to only talk about “social” in very broad terms, HR departments are a flighty bunch and it was only last week they had all banned the use of any social media at all now the other extreme is true and all their current “social tools” spit out and reiterate their job postings to the few that follow them.

STEP EIGHTReinvent the wheel – take a free tool they are already using and make them pay for it!

When adding features it’s important to monetize tools that HR and Recruitment currently use for free. Skype and Google Hangouts are both free and been in wide usage for years by interviewers all over the world, cost benefits abound and these are saleable.  Of course you’ll have to argue that Skype and Hangouts are of inferior quality or use value to your shiny new tool, you can do this by adding weird functionality like recorded responses. Video interviewing is great because is allows a human connection, let’s get rid of that and have people record their answers to posed questions! Thus robbing the emotional interaction and reducing the tool to some voyeur’s delight and reducing the recruiter to a passive couch potato condemned to watching the worst reality TV show ever imagined…

STEP NINEForce the customer into your workflow.

Despite their protestations that they all want to be unique and different, it’s never stopped a vast number of companies forcing their candidates into redundant form filling and duplication of effort.  As the software provider you should only care about the buyer, candidates should be made to apply in triplicate if it so pleases the bill payer.  Remember you’ll only actually reveal the absurd workflow or user interaction after the buyer has signed, users may end up doing insane things like emailing resumes to themselves but after you’ve got your money that’s their lookout.  Regardless that the client will be wanting to differentiate themselves to prospective employees it’s less time and hassle to make them all leap through the same hoops.  If your tool does include candidate contact feel free to include some email templates – it’s best to make these non-editable and send at random points just for fun…

STEP TEN DO NOT talk to anyone who will actually use the tool during requirements capture.

This is the most important step.  Before you sell anything to anyone, before you even start to build any software, don’t under any circumstances talk to a user from HR or Recruitment.  Most people who will eventually use your tool will actually want to be saved from repetitive tasks or data entry, they’ll want a tool that enhances their abilities, they’ll have a list of workarounds that they currently endure with existing tools and they might even have ideas of their own.

Whilst these would result in a more useable tool they won’t necessarily be attractive to the buyers in HR (who won’t be using the tool you’re building), the potential investors who will want to buy your tool or even confirm your own bias as to why “Recruitment is broken”. It’s best to completely disregard potential users of your software and applicants/those who will be used by the software.

Armed with this sage advice you’ll be well prepared to produce a tool that will garner a lot of attention and sizeable investment whilst adding almost nothing to an organisations ability to hire or retain people.  Remember there’s no individual or human interaction that can’t be successfully repressed or ignored by a well implemented process or tool!