Vice President of CRM

Recently I received a call from a national apparel retail chain we all know, and they were interested in talking with me about a search for a Manager of CRM, their first such hire. What they really needed was a Director or a Vice President of CRM, but they just didn’t know it yet. At that point, I could have talked about a posting I had recently written about why they needed someone at a more executive level.  Trouble is, I hadn’t written one yet as a Vice President of CRM Recruiter.

This posting is going to fix that.

Below is a job description from the perspective of an experienced Vice President of CRM recruiter that I recently wrote and filled for a senior CRM leadership search I conducted for another major consumer marketer.  This could have just as easily beeen a Director-level position for a much larger company, but title aside, what distinguishes the more senior CRM roles is the highly strategic, visionary and transformational abilities that a Director or a Vice President of CRM brings to the position.  They are the “guiding light,” as it were, for all things related to customer engagement. Besides the obvious- a proven track record of success, alignment with company culture, strong leadership skills, being a marketing “technologist”, the ability to influence senior decision makers in organizations where CRM has yet to receive widespread adoption- what are the specific skills thT I look for as a Vice President CRM Recruiter that are required for success as a CRM “commander in chief”?  There are lots of them, and after placing literally dozens of these highly sought after experts and interviewing them one year, two years, even three years into the job, certain skills and abilities emerge that characterize top performers.

Let this comprehensive performance profile serve as your guide.

Primary Purpose:

Provide expertise, vision and leadership to define and implement customer relationship marketing programs and initiatives that successfully build profitable, long-term customer relationships across all brands in all channels. Provide strategic direction for tools and technology to support the implementation and execution of the customer relationship marketing strategy. Manage the market/customer research process and provide learnings and insights to the brands.

Essential Functions:

The Vice President of CRM will create and lead the team that defines and executes multi-channel marketing programs that cost-effectively increase the value of customer relationships. This individual will lead and direct the “art” and “science” of customer relationship marketing.


-Develop and gain approval of the strategic plan for customer relationship marketing, database marketing and customer research. Ensure integration into corporate strategy and objectives.
-Participate in developing and converting the corporate vision and strategy into a continuous and complete annual strategic plan.
-Participate in corporate and brand planning process to ensure support and integration of CRM strategy and plan.
-Partner with internal and external resources (including IT and the brands) to support company goals and maximize margin on tactical corporate needs.
-Participate in the ongoing management and enhancement of the company’s privacy policy. Establish a cross-functional privacy council to ensure compliance with state and federal laws.
-Enthusiastically champion CRM concepts and examples of success to senior leaders in all aspects of the business.

Modeling / Analytics

-Lead the development of database marketing analytics, such as statistical modeling, customer profiling, segmentation analysis, and other analytical techniques to improve customer insights, retention and loyalty.
-Lead, develop and execute the design and implementation of a customer segmentation system and targeting for each of the brands. Identify customer lifecycles, calculate LTV and develop key customer segments.
-Develop an automated process for reporting on campaign results. Include results for the brand total, mail group and control group across product categories, spend ranges and other metrics. Provide learnings and insights to brands to revise for future campaigns.
-Provide a thorough, detailed and evolving understanding of customer profiles through customer research. -Synthesize findings across all sources and provide learnings to brand and corporate management.
-Develop and recommend relationship marketing campaign quantities for appropriate relationship marketing initiatives.


-Serve as business owner for internal and external technology projects necessary in growing CRM. Partner with IT to develop and implement a technology road map suited to support the needs of the business regarding data/address hygiene, campaign management, database analytics, business intelligence and other appropriate applications.
-Audit, develop, establish and maintain appropriate controls and processes to ensure proper levels of data/address hygiene, customer database processes, management, and direct mail execution.
-Continuously review and recommend opportunities to enhance the quality and accuracy of the customer database.

Execution / Operations

-Manage and execute the day-to-day corporate CRM, database marketing and customer research operations. Provide ongoing innovative solutions for CRM business process improvement, issues, and needs.

Build close partnerships with brand management (President, Merchandise, Marketing, and Store Operations) to develop an intimate understanding of brand nuances, category and seasonal marketing priorities, strategies and plans.

-Develop and implement a customer contact strategy across all channels. Ensure that the marketing investment is consistent with the expected ROI. Establish policies to ensure a tempered offer flow to the customers across channels.

-Create an operating environment and establish performance standards that result in industry-leading customer relationship marketing programs and products in a “test and learn” culture. Develop, test and implement traditional and non-traditional methods of attracting and retaining customer which deepening customer relationships.

-Establish and implement best practices for database marketing processes, measurement, evaluation, data capture, maintenance, and customer/prospect list selection.

-Identify and implement operational efficiencies, cost savings and revenue gains across production, postage, lettershop or other aspects of customer relationship marketing programs.

-Partner with brands and lead the development of targeted, relationship marketing programs. Work with creative, copy, print production, merchandising and marketing to execute the programs to maximize ROI while increasing customer value.

-Develop and manage corporate-wide policies and procedures for CRM, database marketing, and customer research.

-Execute the CRM, database marketing and customer research budget

-Hire, develop, coach, mentor, and empower CRM team and resources.

-Serve as the SME (Subject Matter Expert) for CRM, database marketing and customer research to all corporate and brand departments.

-Actively supervise the development and execution of all relationship marketing programs across all channels. -Coordinate campaigns across channels to assure consistent customer experience.

Vendor Relationships

Identify, select and supervise outside vendor partners designed to support the execution of the corporate and brand CRM, database marketing and customer research strategies.

Top executive-level CRM practioners comprise a small, exclusive club. They are masters of their craft and their work can have widespread, positive impact on an organization.  My top advice for companies considering a senior level CRM hire has been the same for more than 15 years:  Before embarking on a search for one of these highly specialized experts and enagaging a Vice President of CRM Recruiter, make sure there is commitment, from the C-suite on down, behind the investment required and the cultural transition required to adopt a CRM strategy.