Who Can Drive Your CRM Project – and Who Should? 

Who Can Drive Your CRM Project – and Who Should? 

Brian Gardner No Comment

One of the most common reasons customer relationship management (CRM) initiatives fall short of expectations is not having a point person who takes ownership. More specifically, it’s the lack of a dedicated leader who can drive the process from a sales management perspective rather than just a technical one. 

The trouble is many CRM providers and integrators focus more on showcasing technological features than addressing the company’s specific business needs.  

CRM is software. It is technology.  

But technology is just the conduit.  

It’s how we use technology that drives sales growth.  

That’s why you need someone who understands the business and can design a CRM system tailored to the company’s needs. Right from the start. 

There’s nothing worse than attempting to use a CRM dashboard that has been built before defining input process and system needs — that’s putting the cart before the horse.  

That’s why we recommend performing a detailed audit at the front end of the implementation and using the results to create a roadmap for execution. Front-loading details like product and service taxonomy, account structures, opportunities, quotes, competitive analysis and contacts will ensure the CRM becomes the single source of truth for account management. Linking these data points together can give you a 360-degree view of your business.  

It’s better to design the system properly on the front end than trying to fix it down the road. Not all providers can do this.  

So, the question remains: Who can and who should drive your CRM project?  

The Importance of Having a Designated CEO for CRM 

I hear repeatedly from distributors who are not experiencing success with their CRM: 

“We’re just not seeing ROI from our CRM. Our adoption rates are low. What can we do?”  

My response is always, “Who is your CEO for CRM? Who drove the implementation and who is driving the usage?”  

There has to be one point person, an executive champion, a person responsible for the success of CRM. In this regard, I call this person the “CEO for CRM.” 

The CEO for CRM is ultimately responsible for the success of the CRM project and arguably, the most important role in successful implementation and user adoption. The CEO for CRM is critical, whether it’s an internal role or an external consultant acting as a wingman to guide the process.  

I see the most success when this person is in a sales management position and understands the sales process and the needs of the sales team. The CRM needs to be built through their lens, from a salesperson’s perspective.  

The supporting cast to the CEO for CRM are super users.  

Who are the CRM’s Super Users?  

These are your CRM evangelists – users from different roles and skill sets within the company who will be actively using the CRM system in their workdays. Their adoption, or lack thereof, will ultimately decide the success of a CRM rollout. This requires an in-depth evaluation of how the CRM system can help them perform their jobs easier and more effectively, and how each department collaborates.   

Your super users work with the CEO for CRM to provide feedback and real-world guidance right from the beginning of the project.  

Who are the super users in an organization? Typically, they include:  

  • Sales managers 
  • Outside and inside sales
  • Customer support representatives 
  • Marketing managers 
  • Data analysts 
  • Other C-level executives 

The Roles in CRM Implementation  

Now that you’ve identified your CEO for CRM and internal super users, who will help you build, design and integrate your CRM?  

Internal Project Lead 

When some companies begin a CRM implementation, they may assign the job to a project lead. They are often someone in sales or operations who already has a full-time job. Sometimes, it’s assigned to someone in the IT department.  

This happens most often in a DIY implementation, where the internal project lead would work directly with the software provider or maybe an integrator. 

Typically, this person has never done a CRM project before. They know they want to target certain data to lift sales but are usually unsure how to design the CRM to capture that data. They may try their best, but they are often set up to fail: This person usually doesn’t have time or the experience to drive the CRM project forward successfully. 

CRM Software Providers  

The four largest vendors of CRM systems are Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce and SAP, but dozens of options exist, including some that specialize in industrial distribution and manufacturing markets. They create the software to support sales management, provide actionable insight, integrate with other programs and facilitate team communication.  

They know the technology and excite prospects with bells and whistles but may not fully understand your business and are usually not set up to objectively drive your CRM project with these needs in mind. They are approaching CRM from a sales and technology perspective and usually have a preset process with minimal customizations from the close of the deal to implementation. 

CRM Integrators  

CRM integrators are practitioners that are certified to be technology partners for a particular software provider. They understand the functionality of the CRM software they specialize in; however, they may not understand the specific needs of your business or customers.

That said, they are usually responsible for laying out the technical specifications for your implementation and must work with you on how the CRM needs to be designed from object/form layout, fields, processes and dashboards. The gap is that someone at your company has to communicate these needs. But usually a point person in the company doesn’t understand the technology; and the integrator doesn’t understand the business needs to the level needed for success. This back and forth wastes time and money. We fill this gap as industry-focused consultants.

CRM Implementation Consultants 

A CRM consultant understands real-world needs and the capabilities and limitations of the chosen CRM software. They should be the company’s champion and should approach the project holistically. They audit your business to best understand the ideal CRM setup, identify KPIs to track and design specifications, and formulate execution and onboarding strategies for successful CRM implementation.  

We also recommend choosing a consultant who is platform-agnostic, meaning they are not tied to one software provider. They can also keep your CRM partner honest.

Ideally, your consultant should know your industry well. For example, SalesProcess360’s team has deep experience in industrial markets, which allows us to understand the unique nature of the businesses we work with and apply lessons learned from other similar implementations. 

For Effective CRM Management, Think Process and Sales Reps First 

At SalesProcess360, we prioritize sales process design rather than being tied to a specific CRM technology. We think and design with the salesperson in mind. For ultimate adoption, this needs to be a tool that brings value to the sales team so they feel they are getting something out of it, and not just inputting into it.

The goal is to create a CRM system that aligns with your company’s needs, whether it involves modifying an existing CRM system or implementing a new one.  

Reach out today to learn more about how we can support you in CRM success. 

SalesProcess360 Videos featuring Brian Gardner

Get insights based on decades of experience in industrial markets, including why you should think beyond outside sales, how to take a proactive approach to sales opportunities and how to let sales process drive your CRM wish list.