What an amazing time to be in marketing. What an amazing time to be in CRM and to have the right CRM skills. As a major focus of mine for more than two decades, I’ve seen customer engagement evolve from the birth of the first SaaS vendor to the formation of in-house CRM Centers of Excellence that are driving marketing effectiveness across diverse corporate functions spanning global geographies.  One of my top searches right now is with a national health insurer that is shifting their culture from that of a traditional provider to a well-being partner that will empower customers to live a life that’s healthy, active, and rewarding.

How can you not get excited about that??

CRM leadership roles among the most transformational opportunities that cross my desk. These positions are anything but business as usual.  They require candidates who bring a whole different discipline about how to think about current customers, and an understanding of what keeps them loyal.  Then, they have to work hard to engage and captivate new and existing customers. And it’s not just about what you should be doing, but also what you shouldn’t be doing.  As consumers ourselves, we all can relate to communications from brands that lack relevance and engagement. At most organizations, the evolution towards a more fully integrated, omni-channel, customer-centric marketing model takes years.  This particular health insurance client has been building its CRM team since 2012, and as one of the marketing leaders told me, “we’re just rounding second base.”  Experienced CRM pros know this journey all too well. Strong CRM skills includes being able to work across many different functions from customer service to finance to legal, and frequently across multiple locations and different customer segments. Talk about a challenge. Then of course there’s the leadership factor.  Aligning executive leaders to have real conviction behind such a transformation is essential.

There are lots of CRM skills and moving pieces that must work together to affect a successful end-to-end CRM makeover.  Perhaps the most important bullet item on the job description for the insurance search I referenced is the following:

• Exceptional cross-functional collaboration, relationship management, influencing and interpersonal CRM skills.

My client is fortunate to have an HR manager who has a strong understanding of CRM. He understands the vital role that cross functional collaboration plays in developing CRM strategies, and he does an excellent job probing for it. He looks for examples of how candidates have have evangelized the CRM function with past employers, and how they have conveyed the features, benefits reports, dashboards and ROI for different lines of business. He knows what CRM skills are important.

Bottom line: If you’re in CRM, you already know the importance of working across departmental lines. Be sure you emphasize this ability when interviewing for CRM-related positions.  Whether you’re a VP or a Manager, that will gain you big points in the candidate selection process.

Jerry Bernhart, Principal of Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC, is one of the nation’s preeminent and veteran executive recruiters in ecommerce, digital and multichannel marketing, and CRM. With more than 80 published LinkedIn articles, Jerry is the “voice” of best practices in the recruitment and hiring of ecommerce and digital marketing professionals. Jerry is also the author of the critically acclaimed book, “Careers in Ecommerce and Digital Marketing,” on Amazon, and participates in many leading digital marketing and ecommerce conferences. Jerry has been recruiting and placing marketing professionals for more than 28 years. Check out Jerry’s other insights on the Thought Leadership section of the Bernhart Associates website.

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