CRM Idol

Rules of the Game

CRM Idol has been more successful than we ever thought was possible and actually has become a defining event for the CRM industry (if we do say so ourselves.) It has gained widespread credence as a place for where small customer facing companies come to learn to grow – and where other companies – both potential customers and even more potential partners/acquirers come to check out who the best of breed are in the industry.
In the three years (this is season 4) of its existence, nine of the participants have been acquired, with CRM Idol playing an acknowledged part in at least 3 of them.  But it is no longer easy to become a contestant, nor is it easy to win. Even to be a contestant, starting this year, is a badge of honor and will gain you more than ever before, But we are also working with a smaller chosen pool than ever before and to win is not a simple or easy task.

The Scope and Geography

This is open to all countries on all continents on planet Earth and if there is life on Mars, a qualified company there, too (Sorry Saturn).

The Categories

These are the categories that you must qualify in.  If you do not, you are welcome to create a category and make the case on the submission form.  But please realize that it will be considerably harder to justify your entry since we are providing a wide latitude of choices here. "CRMish" or “customer-facing” is the standing concept for the competition. 

  1. CRM Suite – Enterprise
  2. CRM Suite – Medium Business
  3. CRM Suite – Small Business
  4. Social CRM
  5. Marketing Resource Management
  6. Marketing Automation (Revenue Performance Mgmt.)
  7. Social Marketing
  8. Content Marketing
  9. Sales Force Automation
  10. Sales Intelligence
  11. Sales Optimization
  12. Sales Enablement
  13. Sales Operations
  14. Customer Service
  15. Web Self-Service
  16. Mobile CRM
  17. Customer Experience Management (CEM, CXM)
  18. Customer Engagement Platform/Application
  19. Social Media Monitoring (must be integrated w/at least one CRM package)
  20. Customer Analytics (including text/sentiment analytics; voice based analytics; social media analytics, influencer scoring, etc.
  21. Enterprise Feedback Management
  22. Reputation Management/Engine
  23. Innovation Management
  24. Community Platforms
  25. Gamification Platforms
  26. Collaboration Applications/Platforms
  27. Social Business
  28. Knowledge Management (requires at least one completed CRM Integration)
  29. Vendor Relationship Management
  30. Partner Relationship Management
  31. Insight Solutions (Enterprise Search, Sales insight, etc)
  32. Other

The Overall Criteria

The CRM Idol 2014 criteria have undergone a lot of change since last year, so read this closely.

Here are the criteria registration and consideration for 2014. If you don't meet them, please don't bother to submit. If you do, as they say on Broadway, break a leg. For those of you who are horrified by that expression, it just means "do great," okay?

  1. Revenue:  Your revenue must be less than $12 million for your prior fiscal year. You will be required to attest to a declaration to that effect.  You will be required to provide us with the actual revenues of your prior fiscal year to confirm. The revenue figures will be kept confidential. If you don't want to tell us, please don't apply.
  2. Product: You must have at least one product commercially available. Products in beta will not be considered. You have to have a pricing model in place that you are currently using to sell your commercially available product.  You will be asked about it in your briefing. Again, NOT beta. Commercially available.  If you have a beta that has commercial customers then it is commercially available and you will qualify to be considered.
  3. Customers:  You must be able to provide three referenceable commercial customers. All three must be customers who are paying for your commercially available product(s). No non-paying customers will be considered as references. There are NO EXCEPTIONS to this.
  4. Company Age: It must be seven years or less from your company's launch. Exceptions are possible on a case by case basis. 

The Contestant Pool

This year’s contestants will be limited to 25
In the past, we took up to 60 but we have found that that is far too much to a. be fair to the contestants in terms of mentoring them and giving them the time they deserve and b. to be fair to judges who are 24/7 as is  and doing the contest. In order to optimize the amount of time devoted to each contestant and to make becoming a contestant a badge of honor, we are limiting the field to 25 and will provide each contestant with a badge that says CRM Idol 2014 Selection (and whatever year going forward) for use in your marketing and branding at some point during the competition.  In addition CRM Idol contestants will be assigned 1 or even 2 mentors (their choice) and more time will be devoted to each company by the mentors.  We will make it worth the while of the contestants.

The Contestant Registration Criteria

Unlike in the past, there are now potentially up to three submission “forms” necessary to enter the contest.
That means you need to submit (please pay CLOSE attention here):

  1. Online registration form
  2. 2-3 minute raw video on why you should be chosen as a contestant
  3. IF you qualify as contestant, three references for a reference check.

The Registration Form

As before, the game plan is that we will read the registration form you fill out online – and it has to be complete without exceptions in order to qualify as a contestant, announced on the schedule mentioned below.  There will be NO exceptions for late submittals on the date mentioned.  We allow you a lot of time, because we want you to be part of this, but it's a lot of work and we need the time to go over what we have.  Plus, we expect that you can meet deadlines. LOL.
On the registration form you will have to provide:

  1. Categories you qualify for – The categories are CRMish, not strict or traditional CRM.  The judges will take into account the specialty area of the company, rather than absolutely weigh against CRM functionality. However, to clarify, it will be taken into account but there are no category winners. Only one winner.
  2. Financial information – You will be required to sign a declaration stating that you're under $12 million (U.S.) in revenue; it is required that you give us your actual revenues from the prior fiscal year. It will be kept entirely confidential and will not be divulged beyond the primary judges who are responsible for contestant selection. You are also required to reveal whether or not you have investment dollars and if so, how much and what round (this is also mandatory but will be kept confidential).  IF YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO DO THIS THEN PLEASE DON’T REGISTER.
  3. Use case – You must provide a one hundred words or less use case of how a customer is using the product. It can be one of the referenceable customers. The customer's name must be exposed in the use case though will be kept confidential.
  4. Why I should be chosen – You must explain in 3-4 sentences why the judges should select your company for the contest.
  5. Video Declaration– You will have to sign a declaration that your company will do a professional quality video should you become a finalist.
  6. Declaration of Adherence – You will have to sign a declaration that you will adhere to the contest rules.

Please submit the registration form online at Please send the registration video (see below) to No other address will be acceptable for the registration video submissions.

The Registration Video

This is not daunting; nothing like the finalist video. Here’s what we need.

  1. A 2-3 minute video on why you should be a contestant in CRM Idol – tell us about your company, what you do and what makes a difference for you and about you. Please cover all four. The difference about you is your differentiator(s); the difference for you is why you are what you are as a company and what matters to the company.  Limit it to no more than 3 minutes.
  2. The quality of the video is not a factor. It can be a handheld camera with someone taking a video of you talking in a bar. We don’t care.
  3. The format should be MP4 or if you can’t do that, let us know in advance and do something else.
  4. Keep in mind that NO ONE but the primary judges will see this registration video, unlike the finalist videos which are publicly voted on. 
  5. Submit the video to It does NOT have to be submitted at the same time as the online registration form. It does have to be submitted by no later than June 30 at 6pm Pacific Time.  Nothing will be accepted after that. 

It’s as simple as that.

The References

You only need to submit these if you make it as a contestant. If they check out, you are in. 

  1. Make sure that you are submitting 3 referenceable customers – that is customers who pay you for your products and/or services.
  2. Make sure you inform them that they will be sent a link that will take them to a site to fill out the reference form (its short).
  3. Make sure you let them know that it will expire and if they don’t fill it out by the expiration date (we will leave a good amount of time), only you suffer because it goes as a negative reference.
  4. The implication here (which we’ve learned from past experience isn’t always heeded) is that make sure your references know that they are references and have agreed to be and have agreed to the procedures involved so there are no surprises.

You start this part as a contestant so it’s yours to lose.  Most don’t. Some have. Please take good care here.

The Rules

There will be a three plus week submission period for potential contestants (see calendar below). Judges will select contestants based on submitted responses.  Late submissions will not be considered. There will be NO EXCEPTIONS. Judges have sole discretion over the selection of contestants and the judges' decisions are final. There is no process of appeal.

Registration Process

  1. Again, there will be 25 slots available worldwide.  However, the primary judges reserve the right to exceed or reduce the number.
  2. The registration form will be made available online ONLY this year, starting June 2, 2014 at 9:00am Eastern Time and until June 30, 2014 at 6pm Pacific Time. You must register this way. Its a simple form and should not take long. 
  3. Submit the registration form by filling it out online  at  If you have a problem with the form please tell us at ONLY and we will try and resolve it as soon as possible.
  4. The form and video must be submitted by June 30, 2014 at 6pm Pacific Time. NO EXCEPTIONS. Nothing will be taken after that point.  It is not necessary to submit them at the same time but once you have registered it is expected that you will submit the video by the June 30th deadline.  
  5. Submit the video via email to
  6. We will announce the contestants for CRM Idol 2014 on July 30 on the website and through various media properties. Check via the CRM Idol website, the Facebook page, the Twitter hashtag and Twitter IDs for where the contestants will be posted and who they are. Each contestant accepted will receive an email to their primary contact by no later than August 4, 2014. This is your email that announces you as a contestant. But there is one last step.
  7. You have return a response to the email by August 5, 6pm Pacific Time accepting your role as a contestant.  You will not be a contestant until you do that. The email to return it to will be No other email address will suffice. It’s a matter of a “yes” and sending out the email with the yes to  Easy.

NOTE: You will be notified ONCE of your contestant status by email. It is incumbent on you as a chosen contestant to be aware of what is going on in the contest. You will have to be proactive in your efforts to accept being a contestant. It will also be up on enough sites and places in the industry media so that there are no excuses about not seeing the email or the lists.

The Registration Video

The registration video should be no more than 2 minutes and, as stated before, no production values are necessary. It should be in MP4 format (unless that is impossible. Do it in a common other format .MOV or .AVI). This is just about why you think that your company should be a CRM Idol 2014 contestant. Who you are, what you do, what differentiates you from the pack; what the company's values are; etc.  No more than 2 minutes, less is fine.  A video shot on an iPhone or whatever while you're in a bar is fine - as long as we can hear you clearly and see you somewhat.  Upload it to and nowhere else by June 30 at 6pm Pacific Time. 

The Briefing and Demo

Needless to say, once you are chosen as a contestant for CRM Idol 2014, the key event in the contest is the briefing.  The idea is that a contestant will prepare a briefing that highlights the strengths of their company and their commercial product(s) that will convince the judges that they are awesome and the CRM Idol 2014 winner without a doubt.

  1. There will be three judges assigned to each contestant demo.
  2. The briefing session will be 45 minutes long and it will entirely interactive. It is at the judge's discretion to make it longer. It will be no shorter. So prepare for that.
  3. The briefing will be recorded.
  4. The product demo portion of the briefing is expected to be live, not on slides.
  5. The judges can ask what they want. The contestant has the right to refuse to answer it (though not on 5th Amendment grounds.  A U.S. only joke).
  6. The mentors who will be working with contestants can help the contestants prepare for the briefing.
  7. The briefings will be scheduled according to a schedule that will be announced in the month of June though the date range is below.  There is no flexibility in the weeks though there will be some obviously on the dates and times, as we set up the individual competitors briefings. However, time slots for contestants will be chosen by judges. Time will be made available to ask for a changed time slot so the initial time slot assignments will be considered tentative until a certain date.
  8. The login information will be provided once the schedule is set up.

Choosing Semi-Finalists and Finalists

From the 22 contestants, a pool of 10 semi-finalists will be chosen. Following the demos, the primary judges will choose the semi-finalists according to the schedule below.  Each of the semi-finalists will be interviewed for an hour to ninety minutes by at least two judges.  Based on those interviews, the judges will choose 4 finalists who will be required to make video no longer than five minutes in length.

The Finalist Video

The standards for the video will be provided to the finalists once they are named. There will be a ceiling for the expenditure on the video. The judges reserve the right to check the receipts for the video expenditures. The content will be up to you. How creatively you do it will be up to you.  We'll issue guidelines when the time gets near, including how the video is going to be distributed for posting and voting.

The hardcore stuff:

Things to Know

  1. It might be useful to look at the videos of the 2013 CRM Idol finalists. They will give you ideas on how you may want to proceed – or not. That is, presuming you make the finals. The finalist videos can be found on the CRM Idol YouTube Channel  (
  2. Keep in mind, we are not only scoring the contestants on their demos but on a number of other factors that are not on the surface of things.  Last year, one contestant who would have made the semi-finals didn't because of a lack of adherence to the basic ethical standards of the contest.  There are human factors that are always being watched throughout the entire life of this competition, from the day that the submission form comes in to the declaration of the winners. Your citizenship and participation matters. 

Dates and Times Table

We've put together an easy little table with all the relevant dates and times that you'll need as you progress through the competition. However, keep in mind this schedule is subject to change with notice.

  • June 2 – Announcement for Registration
  • June 30 – Registration period closes
  • July 30 – Contestants announced
  • September 8 – October 10 – Contestants demos and briefings
  • October 13  – 10 Semi-finalists announced
  • October 20 – October 31   - Semi-finalist interviews
  • November 3 – 4 Finalists announced
  • December  1 – Videos due
  • December 8  – December 14  – Voting (popular & judges)
  • December 17 – CRM Idol 2014 winner announced.

Good luck to all of you! We can't wait to meet you!

So that you don't miss this.  The registration form online is