Jigsaw’s Fowler on Cold Calls, Passive Searches, and More

Jim Fowler, founder and CEO of the online business directory Jigsaw, chatted with us following last week’s news of the $142 million proposed merger with Salesforce.com.

Jigsaw, best known in the recruiting community for helping with passive candidate searches, will pretty much stay the same.

“Salesforce recognizes that recruiters have played a huge and key role in crowdsourcing the Jigsaw database and don’t plan to change anything that is working!” he says.

Fowler says there are no bundle plans in the works yet, the Jigsaw brand and model will stay around after the merger, and Jigsaw will operate as a separate business unit.

It’s the “need for raw business card data” that enables recruiters to do a very specific title search.

“Jigsaw has well over one million unique titles. Many recruiters are used to working with data sets where there are a very small amount of ‘normalized’ titles. Being able to search by a very specific key word in a title can help narrow a search very quickly, which makes a search far more efficient,” he says.

“Having an email and a direct dial phone number is invaluable when recruiting a passive candidate. Another way Jigsaw can help is by setting a saved search on companies and seeing which employees are added and ‘graveyarded.’ Understanding the ebb and flow of employees from a given target company is critical information that many recruiters don’t take advantage of on Jigsaw,” he notes.

The Jigsaw website claims that 75,000 in-house and independent recruiters use its service each month, but the company says third-party recruiters likely account for “well over 50%,” with “certainly more” interest among independents than in-house recruiters.

Yet for those recruiters who do not need sourcing help, Fowler suggests that there is “much more” to a search than just sourcing, since “every recruiter needs to know who gets added and subtracted to a target company.”

Jigsaw, which has dealt with privacy criticisms over the years, “decided to change our privacy model because we felt it was the right thing to do,” he says.

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“Even though we weren’t legally compelled to offer an opt-out model, we decided to do it so that the market would recognize Jigsaw as having the most progressive privacy policy in existence [as a BtoB data company]. We’re proud of these changes and hope the market understands that Jigsaw sets the standard in this arena,” adds Fowler.

Under the new privacy model, Jigsaw notifies by email every person who gets added to its database. The email explains what Jigsaw is and gives them a chance to remove themselves from the database.

“Interestingly, most choose not to do this because Jigsaw — alone among data companies — allows anyone to set preferences and provide instructions on their business card. These instructions tell salespeople, marketers, recruiters, etc. how to communicate with them. These instructions save EVERYONE time,” says Fowler.

The old system gave financial incentives to upload contacts, but Fowler explains that the cash-incentive system was never a big part of its model, nor was it very effective. A tiny percentage of members participated in this program, so it was killed after about a year.

“Many businesses, and especially recruiters, need a constant source of fresh, accurate data to run their businesses. If you think about how much time a salesperson or a recruiter spends just trying to figure out the right people to contact, it can get staggering. The basic Jigsaw model is that for every record a member adds, updates, or graveyards, he or she gets a record in return,” he says.

“It is far more efficient to do bit of work on Jigsaw to get your points than to blindly cold-call a target organization. Our community continues to grow at a very rapid pace,” he adds.

Elaine Rigoli has nearly 15 years of experience managing content and community for various B2B and consumer websites. Elaine has written thousands of business and technology articles and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal and eWeek, among other publications.

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