Why recruiters should continue to copy the processes and technologies that have been tried and tested in sales and marketing
Like it or not, recruitment is often late to catch on to trends and technologies. Once it does try something new, it is usually because it’s been tried and tested before in another department, usually in sales and marketing. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that sales and marketing innovation is the crystal ball of recruitment innovation. Don’t believe me? Just look at the history:
1999… The CRM, precursor to the ATS.
In 1999, the entire software industry started undergoing a massive transformation when Salesforce made its debut as the first major Software as a Service (SaaS) CRM vendor. Thanks to a core group of forward-thinking customers, Salesforce and a number of smaller CRM vendors quickly gained ground in the years that followed. SaaS was a revolutionary idea at the time: putting all your information in an online depository, where things would be stored “in the cloud”. It was quite a leap of faith for the buyers at the time. The recruitment equivalent of the CRM is the applicant tracking system (ATS). The ATS can be traced back to the late 1990s, but only started to take off in its current SaaS form, with the critical component of the career website at its core, when Taleo was rebranded from Recruitsoft in 2004. The success of Taleo has inspired many, many other vendors since.
2006… Inbound sales, precursor to the talent community
In 2006, sales and marketing were introduced to their next big software break after two MIT grad students realized the traditional tactics — direct mail, email blasts, and cold calls — weren’t working anymore. They created Hubspot and inbound marketing was born. By 2010, they had found their core user base, and the company was already generating more than US$15 million in revenue.
Just like it did for the SaaS CRM revolution, it took a while for the recruitment world to build its Hubspot equivalent, and to a large degree, we are still waiting for it. Companies such as Smashfly, Phenom People, Yello or The Muse, which are all helping companies build and keep an engaged talent pool, have only started to gain traction in the past couple of years. I expect this revolution is still in its infancy, as employers still have to figure out how to flag the talent in their database that is actively job searching.
2007… Programmatic advertising hits e-commerce, before coming to recruitment
Another page from the tech history book: programmatic advertising. Around 2007, programmatic advertising started grabbing headlines and by 2011 real-time bidding (RTB) had become the sales engine of the e-commerce economy thanks to companies like MediaMath, Google, and Microsoft. Marketing had entered the age of automated media buying decisions.
The recruitment industry soon followed with Indeed surpassing Monster in 2010 to become the most used job website in the US, thanks to its pay-per-click model. Companies like Work4 and Broadbean started developing automated and targeted recruitment advertising solutions around a similar time, with an added focus on social media. Using data analytics, they optimised the cost per candidate in much the same way as programmatic advertising.
Imitation is the highest form of flattery
So recruiters, how does it feel to always be trailing behind? Don’t fret over it. It’s perfectly normal that the revenue generating side of the business attracts the most risk-taking innovators. It’s only natural that this is where most of the disrupting experimentation takes place. Rather than lament the innovation is happening ahead of you, why not simply ride the wave?
Today’s trends in sales and marketing can be your idea board for next year. If you spot a new trend in sales, why not be the trailblazer in your own field? If you go through that exercise often enough, and if you can adapt those methods ahead of your competition, you may give your company a real systemic advantage in the war for talent.
OK, ready to get started?
Are you ready to start adapting sales innovations to fit your recruitment operations? If so, the next step is to identify that new sales trend that will work for you. This is a strategic decision for which you will have to take into consideration your internal capabilities as well as your labour market dynamics. To help you get started, I’ve listed below seven major new sales trends that could soon find their way into recruitment…
1. Calling is back!
Inbound marketing may have killed the cold call, but the art of the phone call is stronger than ever. Sales development representatives who can intelligently qualify leads over the phone are once again the hottest commodity. Salesforce has even added inbound and outbound phone lines in their CRM (read here). Isn’t it time you build phone capabilities in your recruitment software? (Full disclosure: Talkpush built that feature earlier this year.)
2. Real time engagement
Studies show the odds of contacting a lead if called in 5 minutes versus 30 minutes drop 100 times. Solutions have popped up everywhere to minimize the average response time. Chatbots, social listening, and integrating social messaging apps into the communication process are all done with that intention. Similarly, engaging candidates in an automated conversation as soon as they apply should improve your conversion rates considerably.
3. Record everything.
Keeping track of emails used to be cool. Today, the best CRMs allow for every phone call to be automatically recorded, analyzed, and measured to allow for quality control and training. Recently funded Chorus.ai even goes one step further and gives live feedback to the sales team on how to handle phone calls better. What if you could offer live call analytics to your recruitment team? Imagine how it could help you calibrate their performance.
4. Facebook goes B2B.
While Facebook advertising used to be the domain of consumer facing products — notably e-commerce and beauty products — advertising business solutions on Facebook has become huge in 2017. Most enterprise vendors are realizing they can get better bang for their advertising bucks on Facebook than on YouTube or LinkedIn. For recruiters who are still weary of sourcing on Facebook, this ought to be a major wake up call: time to rethink your advertising budget and get started with Facebook ads.
In the last five years, most enterprise companies have embraced a level of specialization for their sales team never seen before. Sales teams are traditionally separated between small accounts and large accounts, much in the same way talent acquisition teams have different recruiters for graduate hiring and executive hiring. The new level of specialization revolves around the question of how to get the largest amount of leads in front of the people most likely to close them, at the lowest cost possible. The bigger recruitment firms have already caught on to this, and will have their experienced specialists handle high-level candidates, while social butterflies are tasked with lead generation. Apply the ultra-specialized sales team model to recruitment teams, and here is what it may look something like this:
Sales role -> Recruitment equivalent
Product Marketing -> Employer branding (story telling)
Direct Marketing -> Digital Marketing (ad spending and optimization)
Inbound Sales Rep -> Talent Community Manager (can build the talent pool and get qualified leads)
Outbound Sales Rep -> Sourcing Specialist (can search for candidates online)
Sales development reps -> Screening Specialist (can pre-qualify candidates over the phone)
Account executive -> Recruiter (specialized in face to face interviews)
6. Personalized pages.
Any marketing team still sending mass emails that start with “Dear valued customer” may as well pack up their business now. In an age where companies are constantly collecting and analyzing customers’ personal data, the very least they expect in return is a personalized experience. Here, the world of online retail marketing is leading the way. While personalized mass emails have been around for a long time, personalized websites, where return visitors are addressed by their first name and shown only the most relevant content, are all the rage. Next up: a different career page for every single candidate?
7. Content = video.
Attention spans appear to be decreasing, so long documents are best avoided. Consumers would rather watch videos, which are convenient, rich with “soft” data, and accessible anywhere. Job seekers are no different, and are much more likely to receive the key messages from an employer if supported by video.
About me: I’m the CEO of Talkpush (www.talkpush.com), the leading messaging recruitment software. Our recruitment chatbots currently process over a million candidates every year, more than any in the world, and help to connect employers and candidates in over 10 countries. Are you ready to start engaging with talent at scale? Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org