Putting the Relationship Back in CRM

When did you and your best friend first meet? Through mutual friends? At school or work, maybe?

Now, if I asked you why they’re your best friend, is that as easy to pinpoint? Or how you’ve grown to become such close friends? There are myriad reasons because you’ve experienced so much together. They’ve shown up for you time and time again. That relationship is one you know you can always trust, return to and invest in because they’d do the same for you.

Simon Sinek pinpoints it best: When it comes to relationships, it’s not about intensity – it’s about consistency. Relationships can only deepen over time. It’s how we build loyalty and advocacy.

It’s also how careers are built. I fundamentally believe that careers are not jobs – they are relationships between people and companies. And it can take a lifecycle – years – for relationships to form, to become valuable.

Very few companies see it this way. Let me rephrase that – very few companies approach it this way.

Many talent acquisition leaders, recruiters, etc. enter the profession (or perhaps accidentally stumble into it) believing that people fuel companies. They likely see that recruiting starts careers and changes lives. They believe in relationships, networking, creating connections.

Yet the inherent structure of the industry has them going about it all wrong – too many reqs, too few recruiters, too much advertising, too great of focus on jobs, too much complication, too little communication, too much churn, too little rediscovery. And now, too many vendors pushing features that aren’t built intuitively for recruiters’ pain points or adoption.

As someone relatively new to the HCM/talent acquisition space (but relatively old in the technology space…), I care less about how we got here. I care more about how we solve it.


It takes two to tango transform. Those two, when it comes to talent acquisition, are teams and technology. Product + people. You cannot have mature, strategic talent acquisition without the right technology driving it. But you also can’t have effective technology if teams don’t know how to use it to achieve their goals.

It’s the number one issue we see with CRM – usage and adoption. Despite all the investment spent advertising jobs, spent at events, spent on the career site; despite all the resources for recruiting and sourcing on LinkedIn and within referral networks; more and more names enter the CRM never to be anything more than simply names. You get enough names on resumes, on LinkedIn, in ATSs.

A CRM should turn those names into relationships and those relationships into careers. And to help talent acquisition teams utilize the CRM for that goal, we need to do two things:

  • Build a better way to prioritize talent by pipelines, skills, engagement and jobs to give recruiters a consistent, strategic starting point
  • Ensure our customers (and non-customers, for that matter) have the support and thought leadership to utilize what we build and evolve how they think

It requires a change in product and a change in people. It’s how SmashFly will approach every solution we bring to market, starting with Pipeline Intelligence.


Pipeline Intelligence is a new module in SmashFly’s recruiting CRM that intelligently creates and matches pipelines based on skills, engagement and job reqs to suggest the top talent recruiters should prioritize. It allows our CRM to work for you, using all the data you’ve collected over years of interactions with different talent across your ecosystem – recent grads, interns, referrals, internals, talent network leads, silver medalists – to make sense of where to start pipelining, sourcing, marketing and relationship-building.

Intel’s Allyn Bailey said it best here: “Just having people in a pipeline is not helpful. We must have them organized. That organization needs to be dynamic enough to change and alter based on how they change over time and how the organization’s need to leverage them may change.”

Which talent from a recent event matches best to an open job req for Sales? Pipeline Intelligence will tell you.

How can I find internal talent that are interested in new openings and are experienced enough for a Manager-level position? Pipeline Intelligence will tell you.

Which talent is best matched by skills to my new engineering reqs, and who is engaged enough to market those jobs to today? Pipeline Intelligence will tell you … and automatically send the talent into a marketing campaign.

The power of Pipeline Intelligence means talent acquisition teams start understanding not the quantity of candidates, but the meaningful qualities — the unique skills, interests and behaviors — of the people behind the data.


I believe Pipeline Intelligence is a game-changer for CRM adoption and effectiveness. And we will only get better at holistically and contextually matching skills and engagement within our AI-powered algorithms. But the long-term value of a solution like this rests in talent acquisition team’s ability to use it across the talent lifecycle and in conjunction with other strategies like referrals, internal mobility, and more. Think about the following:

  • Never losing a single referral, and instead pipelining each one according to skills and experience vs. a job req to create a VIP circle of candidates your employees trust.
  • Always looking at your entire ecosystem first for every new opening – internals and externals in the same pipelines – to hire the best person for the job.
  • Revisiting your best interns after they’ve moved onto another job early in their career to be able to bring them back in the right position with the right experience.
  • Watching and tracking the career progressions of your most successful and engaged employees in one place to preemptively market new roles to expand their skillset and develop leaders.

See, it’s not just about “recruiting” or “talent acquisition” anymore; it’s bigger than both.

It’s about creating a talent lifecycle — consistently sourcing new talent leads from your efforts; building touchpoints to drive interest and familiarity with your brand; creating a career at the right time for them and you; and then continuing that relationship to advance their career and grow their loyalty, which in turn creates referred talent leads and a candidate for life in your employee, interested to stay and rise the ranks.

It’s an endless lifecycle and loyalty engine, constantly moving and deepening relationships and starting fresh ones. Consistency over time, not intensity in one moment.

The thing is: Technology can be the engine, but you must be the ignition.