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Find out what your salary should be as a CRM professional!!

Back from a week's holiday gardening and fishing in the Scottish borders, I thought I'd spend a little time on my first week back having a look at some of the early results from our online survey on the minor topic of how much money CRM professionals can earn.

Please note that this is still not the formal report of the survey, which is being prepared in collaboration with the CRM-Institute of the University of Strathclyde. Work progresses, but it will probably be another month or so before we release the final document, and they'll be at a far more useful level than these analyses which are global. It becomes much more valuable when we break out individual industries and countries. Nevertheless, there's still a lot of valuable information at the global level.

Before providing the analyses, let me give you some background. The survey was completed by nearly 900 CRM professionals, but not all of them provided us with information on salary - a sensitive topic for some. Over 550 did provide us with salary information, but the number included in each analysis varies for a number of reasons. It's reasonable to assume there's a sample size of around 500 for each of the following analyses.

Second point. A Stephen Jay Gould book on the disappearance of the .4 baseball hitter (the title escapes me) convinced me of the uselessness of averages and persuaded me of the value of normal (and abnormal) distribution curves, so that's how all the analyses are approximately represented. They're a bit harder to understand, but they tell you a lot more.

We asked respondents to identify their salary as fitting into one of 6 bands: £0 - £20k, £20k - £35k, £35k - £50k, £50k - £75k, £75k - £100k, and over £100k. Each of the analyses shows, for each item, the % of respondents that fitted into each of these ranges. This provides a 'pseudo normal distribution curve'. The more the curve is skewed to the right compared with other items, the more relatively people are being paid. Similarly the more it is comparatively skewed to the left, the less people are being paid.

With that out of the way, let's have a look at the first analysis of salary by Job Title.

CRM Global Salaries by Job Title

Actually, there's not that much which is interesting here. As you'd expect, directors tend to get paid more than other staff members. The only thing of real interest is that the title CRM manager has arrived, and over 20% of respondents providing salary details had that job title. So it looks as if companies think that CRM is here to stay.

Although you may not have much choice of career (and hence job title) you do have a choice on which side of the industry you work, so the next analysis breaks down salaries by client-side, consultancies, and suppliers.

Global CRM Salaries by Role

Here a number of things become clear. If you're after the big money, consultancy is the place to be, with less than 25% earning less than £35k, and around 33% earning over £75k. Client-side companies have a large number of staff (nearly 40% on less than £35k, but still over 20% earning £75k or over. Looks like a safe bet with good earnings in the long-haul. Supply-side employees look like their salary is more likely to be in the medium to high range, but with fewer earning in the over £100k area. So it looks as if there's a number of different strategies to maximise salary available to people in different market sectors, depending on their risk averseness.

Although analysis of salary by job title didn't turn out to be spectacularly interesting, we also asked respondents about the area of CRM in which they were working and that threw up a number of interesting points.

Salaries by Skill Area 1

Salaries by Skill Area 2

First point of interest - the only two areas where no respondent was earning more than £100k were customer profitability and the Internet Channel. The first of these is surprising.

Understanding customer profitability is key to CRM, and yet no company is paying any respondent more than £100k to work in that area, though in every other area apart from Internet Channel we had respondents earning in that range. Just shows how important companies think customer profitability is (and the Internet channel) - a mistake in our view. It's also interesting that strategic analysis seems quite skewed to lowish salaries, when the value added is significant. I suppose they all get promoted and go on to work on Business Strategy.

On the other hand, if you're looking for the big bucks, you've got a choice of a number of areas paying £100k+. More than 10% of respondents working on Business strategy, CRM IT Implementation, Data Mining, Data Warehousing, Sales Force Automation and Contact Centres were earning £100k or more.

I found two of these particularly interesting. I was pleased to see that Data Miners are being well rewarded. Like strategic analysis, it's a technical skill which adds a lot of value, but its value has not always been recognised in the past. I guess it's the high demand and shortage of skills that is driving up the price. Similarly the high salaries paid to people working on Contact Centres suggests that there's serious effort going into the integration of the electronic channels and the call centre - a development that we've been promoting for some time now.

Of course, in a sense, all these analyses at global level could be accused of adding apples and pears together. Although there's a global economy, salaries are not the same in different economies, and nor are costs of living. To take a first step in showing the difference in these economies, we analysed the top 20 countries (in terms of respondents) to see how salaries varied from country to country.

CRM Salaries by Country 1

CRM Salaries by Country 2

I think there are some interesting pointers here. We do have to be careful because for non-English speaking countries the sample sizes are probably too low to provide an accurate feel. Note that I include Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, and Singapore as English-speaking countries, at least from a work perspective.

Most of those English-speaking countries (Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, UK, and USA) are showing the sort of normal distribution curve which suggests that salaries are not too dissimilar across those countries, though the USA looks as if salaries may be larger. That may be due to a confusion between US dollars and Sterling pounds.

What is more interesting is what's happening in countries like Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, etc.

Most of them are showing a large percentage of low paid workers (Hong Kong and India at around 50%), but with top-earners still usually in the £75k-£100k or £100k+ brackets. It looks like this might be the conscious attempt to develop a CRM export industry, buying top-rate international skills at the senior level, and leveraging local lower salaries for more junior positions. We know this is happening in India (e.g. offshore call centres), but perhaps also in China / Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. Mexico also has a similar profile. Is anyone aware of the use of Mexico as a base for Spanish-speaking call centres for US companies? It certainly looks like an opportunity.

As you can see, we're only just scraping the surface of the salary information we've been provided, and we are still working on more detailed analyses at country and industry-within-country level. As I said earlier, we hope to publish the formal analyses of the survey in August.

If any of this stimulates thoughts or comments from you, we'd be interested to know them. You can post comments directly to this editorial, or email me directly at:


Richard Forsyth
The CRM-Forum
The independent resource centre for CRM


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