HR Advice on CRM Marketing Interviews

Most CRM Analyst roles lean more towards technologists: people who are product experts in a specific CRM, know the ins and outs of the software and are more focused on the day-to-day functioning and health of the database. They might assist in defining customer segmentation and targeting strategies, though the final say comes from the Marketer they work with. Such roles are also focused on extracting data, and constructing dashboards and reports. KPIs can include the number of active accounts without missing information, the percentage of duplicates in the system being below a certain amount, the turnaround time for data exports and reports, etc. Knowing the basics of marketing helps this role speak better to the marketing team, and ensure that the customer data in the CRM is optimally structured for marketing campaigns.

Most CRM Specialist roles lean towards marketers: people who are experts in fields like email marketing, digital marketing, customer journeys, know best practices for these marketing channels, and are focused on the content and messaging that is sent to customers. They typically have the final say in defining customer segmentation, especially as the costs for marketing campaigns come out of their budget.

They coordinate with agencies and suppliers who use the data (e.g. print shops, telemarketing firms, digital ad agencies, etc) and manage marketing projects from start to end. KPIs can include revenue generated, open rates, click-through rates, number of leads acquired, number of leads converted to clients, and number of clients retained/upgraded to a higher level. Knowing the basics of CRM technology helps this role speak to the technology team, and ensure that the correct customer data is being used for marketing campaigns.

HR staff might want to work with the hiring managers to better understand where the role lies in the Marketing-to-Technology spectrum, as well as ensure the job description gives a clearer sense of the main direction of the role.

Advice 1: ensure you know the role for which you are applying for. Is it a Marketing role or a Technology role?

The job description is a good place to start. Does it mention an Engineering or IT background? Chances are, this is a technology role. If it mentions a Marketing background, chances are, this is a marketing role. When unsure, ask the Human Resources staff to clarify ahead of time. Another way to uncover where this position sits is to discuss KPIs. KPIs involving revenue tend to be associated with Marketing roles, while KPIs involving database health tend to be associated with Technology roles.

HR staff might want to begin the conversation by explaining where the role lies, and the associated KPIs, and ensuring that candidates know from the start the type of role they are applying to.

“It is always relevant to validate the candidate’s understanding of the position. A lot of job offers are very short on details, or using creative “job titles” that might not reflect the reality. You also have to take into account that job seekers are not spending more than a few seconds on your job description. This simple validation will help you to quickly reframe the understanding and avoid creating false expectations.” – – Lysanne Dessureault, HR Specialist in talent acquisition and employer branding

Advice 2: ensure you know which technology is required, and which features of it are necessary for the role

As CRM technologies are currently being installed in many Canadian companies, there is not a lot of knowledge of these platforms externally in the market. This has led to many Canadian companies’ headhunting staff who have prior knowledge of the software. Another option is for companies to hire someone, and then train them on the software. Either way, it is a good idea to know which technology is being used in the organization (either to highlight your experience or certification in it or any transferrable skills you might have), as well as the extent to which you need to know it. Applying to a CRM Manager role in which you manage the CRM for the entire organization is a very different approach and requires much more in-depth knowledge of the CRM than applying to a CRM Manager role where you run the email marketing campaigns, and could probably master the email functionality in a few weeks.

HR staff might want to discuss with the hiring manager on which CRMs are being used in the organization, similar CRMs in the market (in case a candidate has experience in them, and the extent to which a candidate has to know the software.

As HR professionals, it is our responsibility to challenge the expectations of our managers regarding the skillset/profile they are looking for. When it comes to software or expected experience, I would recommend reviewing the need for a specific software or the level of knowledge required when starting the job. It should be remembered that a job posting showing an exhaustive list of sought-after skills will be perceived in a negative way and will deprive you of quality applications. The questions to ask are, What are the essential knowledge skills? What are the skills that can be acquired in the position? If so, what is the learning capacity of the person? What level of proficiency is expected? Once determined, it will be important to adjust your description accordingly.This comment is all the more true in this context of labor shortages. Evaluate your applications by keeping an eye open for potential, the willingness to learn.” – Lysanne Dessureault, HR Specialist in talent acquisition and employer branding

Advice 3: If you are a marketer, speak a bit of technology. If you are a technologist, speak a bit of marketing.

The key to any role involving CRMs is to understand that marketing and technology go hand-in-hand. The ratio of marketing to technology might vary from role to role, within the same organization or between different organizations. While each specific role will lean one way more than the other, speaking both languages of technology and marketing ensures that you set yourself apart from other candidates who only see the role in one dimension. For example, a technologist can speak of how different customer data can be used to populate and personalize an email, while a marketer can speak of leveraging fields in the CRM that track the acquisition source of the client and using this to better segment and market to clients.

HR staff might want to check with candidates on their knowledge of marketing and technology, to be able to find candidates who can speak across departments and break potential silos.

The key to a successful interview is preparation. As a candidate, take the time to research the company; ask your recruiter questions about the culture, the environment, the rythm of work; take the time to read the job description as well as the desired profile and make sure to arrive with concrete examples that correlate your achievements with these key elements. – Lysanne Dessureault, HR Specialist in talent acquisition and employer branding

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