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How to Manage A Successful Pivot: Bullhorn CEO Art Papas (Part 4)

Posted on Saturday, Jun 13th 2015

Sramana Mitra: Before we go on to 2008, give me a bit more detail about the strategy of building the business. You started with this recruiter CRM system as you described it. How much business did you do in the recruiter vertical? It sounds like that’s you’re primary vertical in the beginning, right?

Art Papas: It was. In many ways, it’s still an important part of what we do. Those early customers were all in the recruiting industry. We branched out to more professional services from there because those were natural corollaries. Now, we have commercial real estate, accounting, and all sorts of different types of business. Back then, it was just the recruiting industry.

We got to know more about that industry than I ever thought I would. We engaged deeply with customers to understand how they sell to customers. When they land an account, how do they expand it over time? What are the challenges they face? How do they differentiate from the competition? How can we help them have a better leg up?

Quite typically, the first order they got from a customer was not really the end of their sales process. It was the middle. We built these great tools to help them understand the dynamics of how they’re servicing an account, how they look at their account coverage, and what sort of communication is going back and forth. We had all sorts of interesting ideas that we came up because we understood their business very deeply.

When you’re focused on a vertical, you get all of these really great ideas that build on each other because all the customers roughly do the same thing. It was really great, because then we took all that stuff and baked them into a solution. We took these learnings and said, “Do these apply to other industries?” Sure enough, they do.

Consulting firms need to know what’s going on with the delivery of their service. It just so happens that real estate has a similar long-term courtship of a customer until someday, you actually win the customer. It’s much more about the relationship over time versus episodically, tracking an opportunity or a particular order. I think that vertical approach really helped us develop some things that are, still today, really unique in the CRM world. Our later stages of growth is that specialization. It helped us develop some unique solutions.

This segment is part 4 in the series : How to Manage A Successful Pivot: Bullhorn CEO Art Papas
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