5743c63a42e12242dae1d21dde9376e1In the season of top tens and trends, it’s pretty awesome to have a prediction confirmed. Which is exactly what’s happened over the course of the last year when it comes to the fact that recruiters are finally getting (and repeating) the message that marketing principles actually apply to recruiting.

More practitioners are starting to think about the full recruiting cycle and see the bottom line value – and tangible rewards – in aligning that process with candidate experience, which, it turns out, involves taking the same systematic approach to lead generation, nurturing, segmentation and targeted communications long leveraged by consumer marketers.

It’s a tried, tested and true approach to developing calls to action that actually get answered – and more scalable, sustainable and successful than the scattershot tornado of extraneous activity that is the recruitment process at most employers today.

With the revelation that, other than a little differentiated call to action, marketing and recruiting have a whole lot of overlap, recruiting and staffing leaders are increasingly looking for technology providers for the kind of tools that allow a more programmatic and effective approach to tracking and optimizing their sales activity – whether that sale involves a client or a candidate, recruiters increasingly are looking for a way to monitor and manage the conversation and improve conversion without leaving opportunities on the table.

Of course, as recruiters know better than anyone, there’s a ton of nuance in this industry – and while B2B marketers might have perfected their processes, sales – even if it’s working directly with businesses as a third party provider – staffing and recruiting professionals have a slightly differentiated process that doesn’t always fit squarely with established marketing best practices.  It’s easy to start with a lead and make a lot of projections – including the likelihood of a deal to close or the lifetime value of a lead – when you’re selling something like a widget.  But people are a different story entirely.

Staffing has a lot more variables than perhaps any other sales-oriented activity, which means that when it comes to systems, the standard CRM tools focused on B2B marketing don’t fully fit the requirements inherent to this industry.  For example, most of the go-to CRM systems designed specifically for marketing automation, such as SalesForce, use a SaaS model that uses a variable pricing model which increases based on number of leads inputted or total storage space required.

This won’t work for recruiters with a massive database of resumes and an avalanche of applicants to have to manage.  Then, of course, there are requisition and client specific considerations, such as data integrity, point solution integrations and compliance-related documentation.

This means that if a company wanted to actually create a technology that actually addresses these recruiting-specific nuances and challenges and helps talent practitioners operate more like a high performing sales group, they’re going to need to get a lot of data to make it smart – and instead of requiring backend configurations like most CRMs, this seemingly Quixotic system would have to be designed specifically for recruiters.

The good news is that, for staffing and third party practitioners, at least, the days of tilting at windmills might finally be over.

Bullhorn Sales CRM: Staffing Gets With the System

reportsGiven the manifold challenges outlined above, I was extremely excited to see that Bullhorn, with its significant staffing systems market share, deep industry expertise and SaaS delivery model, had stepped up to the plate by releasing a sales CRM this week – big news that could signal big change for the industry, particularly when it comes to realizing the true power of big data.

I had the chance to sit down with Gordon Burnes, Bullhorn’s Chief Marketing Officer, to talk about their latest release and the data he’s hoping can help drive better outcomes and make a meaningful difference for recruiters.

The Bullhorn team quickly realized by listening to their users (an essential first step on any marketing roadmap) that most third party providers’ biggest pain point was the communication gap between the sales and recruiting teams.

These disparate functions, forced to utilize disparate systems and divergent data sets, were completely unable to forecast revenue, project pipeline or even get a glimpse into each other’s processes, much less manage either the sales or hiring cycle completely from start to finish. These lines of business, traditionally, have little or no intersection, but a whole lot of friction and factional in-fighting.

Bullhorn, however, has collected the data from both parties and created a bridge by structuring their newly released solution around the real stages involved in recruiting or staffing sales instead of building a generic, cookie cutter solution like traditional CRM systems.  By developing a product specifically around this case use, Bullhorn’s sales CRM lets end users fully configure the solution around the processes they already have in place.

This means that steps like sales presentations, statements of work, candidate ownership by clients as well as offer tracking, negotiation and contracting, unlike a system designed to track widgets, can be fully captured within a CRM that can be deployed and modified around the existing processes and best practices already in place at your agency.

Bullhorn Sales CRM: A Recruitment Marketing Roadmap

macbook-iphoneOf course, data collection and integration was only the first step.  Bullhorn has also released a full set of features and functions designed to track passive client activity, such as e-mail or online lead generation campaigns, that provide powerful information to help inform the staffing sales process and use data to drive better forecasting, decision making and communication.

Not to mention helping your business development and recruiting teams finally get on the same page through a single application that’s got all of the information either side needs about a particular account – and makes that data easy to understand, interpret and act on.  It also helps with prioritization, automation and better communication – the kind of insights that help deals get done.

Let’s face it – this whole CRM thing, while desperately needed in the marketplace, is kind of new to recruiters – and recruiters are rarely great at marketing to begin with (exhibit A: any job advertising copy or career-based collateral), which means that Bullhorn’s offering is still a work in progress.  And it’s got a long way to go before it becomes all-inclusive enough to offer the same sorts of capabilities that traditional CRM end users have long taken for granted.

The product will no doubt evolve over the coming months, and eventually offer many of the tools of the marketing trade recruiters need most – content related prompts and A/B testing capabilities being an ideal example of something I hope that Bullhorn ultimately develops with this offering.

But Burnes assured me that for Bullhorn, this is only the beginning – and in recruiting, even baby steps can be signs of big progress.  It’s encouraging to see that in recruitment, marketing, finally, has emerged from the margins to the mainstream – and so too have the systems necessary to support this seismic shift in staffing.

By Katrina Kibben

RecruitingDaily contributing writer and editor.  I am a storyteller. A tactical problem solver. A curious mind. A data nerd. With that unique filter, I work to craft messages that strategically improve the perceptions and experiences of our clients, the people they employ and the candidates they wish to attract. I methodically review and collect research and insights to offer solution-based recommendations that meet the one-off, and not so one-off, recruiting and employer branding problems of today's global employers.