“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.”
Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes

Competitive pressures, emerging technology and the necessity of data-driven sales were the dominant themes at the inaugural HRO Summit 360 (March 19-21, Dallas). The event brought together sales/marketing executives and thought leaders to explore best practices, challenges, and opportunities to grow their businesses—and the industry as a whole—in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

Simply bringing together this group to share insight and ideas showcased the need for ongoing investment in people, skills and technology to continue to propel HRO industry growth, and is something we’ve been working to support since 2015. It was an honor to help make this event possible and to be able to participate.

In addition to sponsoring HRO Summit 360, the PrismHR team was onsite checking out the sessions and connecting with our industry colleagues. Here were our top three takeaways:

1. Want to improve sales effectiveness? Start with data.

When I return from a conference and start reviewing page after page of notes, I often feel two things: inspired…and a little overwhelmed. Where do I start? For HRO Summit 360 attendees, the answer is easy—put on your detective hat and dive into the data.

Ray Dile’s session on the “Power of Sales Analytics” provided both a blueprint for the types of metrics that can inform your sales strategy, and a wake up call for HROs which don’t have a sales management system in place to get real-time visibility into sales performance data. And organizations with such a system in place grow more, according to the PrismHR 2018 HRO Trends Report.

In another session, David Dulany underscored the need to understand your “Sales Pipeline Math,” including a series of KPIs (e.g., conversion and win rates) to track across each stage of sales cycle.

Not having this insight can severely hamstring your organization’s attempts to keep pace with competitors which are using data to optimize their sales process, focus on profitable opportunities, and learn from wins/losses. There’s also likelihood of increased interest in sales performance data from your executive team. Sales managers need to ask themselves if they have the intelligence they need to tell a compelling—and accurate—story to internal stakeholders today.

2. The HRO value proposition needs to evolve as services become commoditized.

How are you differentiating? That’s the million dollar question (or quite literally, the multi-million dollar question) for HROs to figure out as their portfolio of services become commoditized and more competitors enter the space. Companies that distance themselves from the pack will be those that add value to SMBs in areas that are more human-centric and relationship-based, including employee engagement, culture and client retention.

As the market matures, and technology continues to help SMBs, employees and HRO professionals become more efficient and less reliant on people-centric services. How HROs differentiate and add capabilities will need to change as primary offerings like payroll will continue to be commoditized.  

We’re starting to see more companies expand beyond table stakes, and invest in services to help their customers more effectively establish culture to engage and retain employees. What we are seeing is a fundamental shift in the strategic nature of HR, and the transition of HR tech and services from tactical to strategic.

3. HROs that don’t invest in technology and user experience will fall behind the competition.

As more tech-focused software companies compete for the outsourcing needs of SMBs, there will be a greater emphasis on user experience and a shift in what prospects expect from the sales process (e.g., greater responsiveness, instant pricing). Investing in an infrastructure for growth has become critical, not just in the aforementioned sales management system for analytics and process efficiency, but in client-facing applications that deliver UX on par with other mobile-first apps we use today in our personal and professional lives. To take it a step further, whether you have an appetite to build a customized client portal or just want to accommodate third party software a prospect brings with it, API integration becomes a key differentiator that deserves your attention.

Looking to optimize your sales and pricing and win more deals? Check out PrismHR Sales Management.