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Article 9 min read

What is a CRM manager, and why are they important?

Improve your customer experience and increase client retention by knowing the ins, outs, and purpose of a CRM manager.

By Donny Kelwig, Contributing Writer

Last updated April 5, 2024

In 1997, high-level businesses began adopting a new tool: customer relationship management (CRM) software. Considering that the sales industry has been around since humans invented currency, two and a half decades is not a long time on the market in sales years.

So, it’s no wonder that most companies still aren’t using CRM technology to its full potential. And when CRM software is underutilized, companies can lose customers to improper follow-ups and poor customer experience.

This is why the CRM manager is critical.

It’s not often that a new position appears in the sales industry, but with 91 percent of companies now using a CRM, many need a unique manager to wrangle this technology and streamline its use between departments.

With 91% of companies now using a CRM, many need a unique manager to wrangle this technology.

In this piece, we’ll explain what a CRM manager does, why it’s an important position, and how to hire the right person for the job.

CRM manager meaning

CRM managers (or client relationship managers) create systems and strategies that enhance the relationship between a company and its customers. They use a variety of skills from sales, marketing, and customer service to better understand customer needs and advise the company on how to better address those needs through products and services.

The trickiest part of being a CRM manager (or hiring one) is that many companies still don’t know what a CRM manager should do. As a result, specific CRM manager tasks can differ between companies, and many CRM managers spend part of their time defining their role so that operations can run smoothly. That isn’t unexpected: sales CRM technology is still relatively new, and not every company using a CRM is large enough or has the budget to invest in a CRM manager.

That said, if you’re going to publish a job description and go through the costly process of hiring and onboarding, you should have a clear idea of what you’re looking for and which tasks you expect that person to handle.

Let’s dig into the details.

Typical CRM manager salary

According to Glassdoor, the average yearly CRM manager salary in the U.S. is $111,635. That includes a base pay average of $99,532 as well as an additional pay average of $12,104. Additional pay may include bonuses, commissions, tips, and profit sharing.

However, that number can go as low as $30,000 or as high as $426,000 depending on location, company size, and a candidate’s level of experience. While the overall salary range is pretty large, it’s important to note that most CRM managers will seek compensation near the average salary.

People rarely set out to become CRM managers from the get-go, so most of the people you interview will already come to the table with substantial experience in sales, marketing, customer service, or all three. Make sure you budget enough for a competitive salary.

CRM manager vs. CRM coordinator

CRM manager

If “CRM manager” and “CRM coordinator” sound like very similar positions, you’re not alone in thinking so. Many companies use these terms interchangeably and assign the same tasks to both jobs, but ideally, each one has its own specialization.

Smaller companies can get by with just a CRM manager. In this case, the CRM manager would act as a liaison between sales and marketing while also handling customer questions and complaints.

Larger companies, however, might benefit from splitting the role into two: a CRM manager and a CRM coordinator. The manager would focus on CRM implementation and advancement strategies alongside marketing. The CRM coordinator, on the other hand, would focus primarily on customer service and improving customer satisfaction.

Both positions need to be capable of doing most of the same tasks, but if you’re looking to split the workload, these position descriptions are industry standard.

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Role of a CRM manager

As noted previously, because “CRM manager” is so loosely defined in the sales industry, an important trait for a successful CRM manager is the ability to adapt to any task thrown their way. But you’re more likely to make the best use of your CRM manager if the expectations of the position are clearly laid out.

Ideally, your CRM manager is the ultimate customer experience collaborator. They take customer feedback and data analysis and work with the sales and marketing departments to develop new approaches that will improve client retention and conversion.

How do they do that? Through a series of daily and long-term tasks.

CRM manager skills to look for

The most important thing to remember when hiring a CRM manager is that this is not an entry-level position. A CRM manager needs many specific skills, but they also need education and experience in sales, marketing, and customer service. Even if you’re hiring from within the company, here are the essentials to seek out:

  • A diploma/degree in sales, marketing, business, or a related industry

  • At least three years of experience in a sales, marketing, or supervisory customer service position

  • Experience in data extraction/analysis

  • Experience in creating campaigns and managing projects

  • Analytical, data-driven experience in data-processing software (for example, Excel)

  • Detail-oriented and comfortable in fast-paced working conditions

  • A knack for strong communication and personal skills

  • Previous experience in leadership and team-building

  • A proven history of excellent time management skills and performance under pressure

As you can see from this list, a good CRM manager is a diamond in the rough. They must be a master of people and numbers in order to implement ever-changing strategies while maintaining a human connection. Most people in the sales industry are extremely skilled at either interpersonal relationships and communication or data analysis and detail, but finding both in the same candidate may require an extensive search.

You also want to find someone who is both flexible and a team player, combined with a candidate who can stick to strict data-driven plans. Your CRM manager must be able to coordinate strategies between departments without acting like a CEO. They must elicit compromises while successfully implementing a customer-action plan. It’s not an easy ask.

Do I need a CRM manager?

The short answer is: probably. The longer answer is: it depends.

CRM managers are essential for larger companies. Once you hit a certain number of leads and customers, you need someone who isn’t on your sales team to manage that data and create strategies from it.

Additionally, today’s market is customer-centric. With two-thirds of companies competing on customer experience alone, it’s smart to optimize your customer relationships through data analysis. The key to accurate customer data is CRM software, and the best way to take advantage of your CRM software is with a CRM manager.

That said, if you’re a smaller company, you might not need a CRM manager just yet. If your sales and marketing teams are effectively managing your CRM data, it might be best to hold off and give them the money they need to grow. Then, down the line, you can hire a CRM manager to bring everything together when the company’s large enough. Just make sure you invest in a CRM that is meant for small businesses and can scale with you.

Give your CRM manager the right tools for the job

If your company needs a CRM manager, you should have the appropriate software and tech tools in place for them to succeed. Recommended software includes:

There are additional software steps you can take, but these are the main tech priorities you need to cover to ensure your CRM manager is set up for success.

Make your CRM manager’s job easier with a quality CRM

The most important piece of technology for your CRM manager is a strong, simple CRM. You likely won’t have a CRM manager if you haven’t already invested in CRM technology, but in today’s fast-paced market, being stuck with the wrong CRM can be just as detrimental as having no CRM at all.

With Zendesk Sell, you’re investing in the right CRM. This intuitive sales CRM is designed to maximize productivity, pipeline visibility, and revenue for sales teams. Sell provides companies with a reliable contact management system and powerful prospecting tools so the data takes care of itself, enabling you to focus on your customers.

Request a demo of Zendesk Sell today and set your CRM manager on the path to success.

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