Top 5 Things to Look for When Hiring CRM Executives
With more and more companies harnessing the power of big data and analytics, the demand is on the rise for skilled CRM executives. In fact, here at Intellerati, we have experienced an influx of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) engagements as companies. Companies are discovering discovering that Chief Data officer and other senior CRM executive openings are getting harder to fill.
Senior executives within the CRM, Digital Marketing, Customer Acquisition, Engagement and Retention functions are the masters of looking at the data analytics and deciding what to do with all that information. They know what to look for in the analytics to inform decisions around how often to contact each kind of customer and what “channel” to use for each type — whether it is better to reach out on Facebook or by email. They spot patterns in customer or user behavior — such as as the time of day customers are more likely to login to a website or to play a game. Then then set a strategy leveraging that new insight to acquire, engage and retain customers. The function often sits between Marketing and Data Analytics — serving as a kind of translator — or it is frequently seated in Marketing. Either way, the scope of responsibilities vary according to the organizational needs and structure of each particular company. However, we’ve observed that while employers in pursuit of top CRM leadership talent are seeking a very nuanced blend of knowledge, skills and abilities, they look for 5 basic qualifications to hone in on the candidates who are the best of the best.
1) Can this person not only think, but do? While the role requires someone who is pretty technical and highly educated, most of our clients require that the candidate not be all up “in their head”. In fact, some clients cite that as the reason they prefer candidates with a master’s degree, such as an MBA, over a PhD. In addition to ideation, a candidate must have the executive ability to formulate strategy and execute against that plan. Moreover, most clients are seeking a balance of the technical knowledge with an intuitive sense of the customer, one that is informed by a background in the marketing discipline. In order to translate data analytics into ROI, you need a balance of the technical with real human insight.
2) A proven track record of success When considering candidates ask yourself, “Has this person done what you need this person to do successfully in the past?” As you speak with the executive, get specific examples describing how they have solved the problems your organization is looking to solve in the past. For example, if your organization is looking for someone that can increase new customer acquisition, make sure that the candidate has solid examples (with metrics if possible) of how they are doing that in their current roles or in their past roles. Of course, past performance is not always an accurate indicator of future performance, but it does speak to a person’s character.
3) Where has your candidate worked previously? Does the candidate you are considering come from an academy company that is well known for cultivating great CRM talent? Often top CRM talent are alumni of academy companies such as American Express where they master best practices.
4)Does the candidate have startup experience? If your company is still early stage, you will likely need someone who has had experience working in a startup-like environment. To be successful, CRM executives at startups must be willing to “roll up their sleeves” and must be comfortable with ambiguity. If a candidate has not yet worked in that kind of environment, then there needs to be something entrepreneurial in the background that speaks to their ability to get things done in a more rough-and-tumble environment. Conversely, Fortune 100 companies require CRM executives with large company experience, adept at eliciting the buy-in required to get things done.
5)Is the candidate aligned with your company culture? Almost as important as the candidates knowledge, skills and abilities is the person’s fit with your company culture. If your culture is work-hard-play-hard, then the candidate should have a history of success working in that kind of environment. That leader may not be the best fit for a larger company that moves more slowly, is more staid and formal, or where executives don’t clock as many hours.
Of course, these are not all of the points you should consider as you conduct your next executive search for a head of CRM. What do you believe are the essential qualities for your next CRM hire?