Who Should Own CRM Success?

More than a few of our clients have asked us to help them fix failed Customer Relationship Management (CRM) initiatives. When we investigate what went wrong, we often find that the CRM project team was incomplete. CRM systems touch many stakeholders in an organization, both within and outside of the sales function. Unfortunately, many organizations implementing a CRM system forget to include the right people in the planning process, and therefore, miss important considerations that impact the overall success of the initiative. When this happens, ideas aren’t fully thought out and chaos can reign at rollout.

We’ve outlined the major players that we are convinced should be involved in a CRM project team. We also offer some advice for when they should be engaged in order to use their time most efficiently.

  1. Sales Operations (Project Leader) - Typically, CRM implementation and optimization should be led by sales operations. Depending on the complexity of the project, they will oversee the detailed implementation plan and manage the implementation resources. They are involved throughout the project from conception to rollout and ongoing performance improvement. Depending on the size of the sales ops function, there will be power users who will take the lead in training and supporting end users through rollout.
  2. Sales Leadership (Executive Sponsor) - Ideally, sales leadership is the executive sponsor of the system and project in the organization. Sales leaders should be involved in the early stages of the project to ensure that the system aligns with their vision for how they want the sales function to work and salespeople to sell. Implementing CRM system and process changes can be disruptive, and the last thing the sales leader needs is a flood of calls from salespeople and sales managers who can’t enter an order or access the system at important times of the year. The sales leader needs to know when the changes will occur, resources necessary to bring the changes to life, timing to go live, and any special preparation or training that the sales team will need. The sales leader can use the release schedule as an opportunity to reinforce the importance of the system to his or her team and the organization.Sales leaders must also know the costs involved, since they usually fund the system from their budget.
  3. Sales Management - Sales managers rely on the CRM system to manage their teams and generate the necessary reports for sales leadership. They must understand and buy into how the system works and produce the information that they need to perform their job. Sales managers play a critical role in the successful adoption of the system, and a representative number of sales managers should be involved throughout the project to create a sense of ownership. They should also be involved more intensively, when changes directly impact functionality and the reports that they frequently use.
  4. Salespeople, Account Managers, Sales Engineers - Salespeople should be involved early in the requirements development process to give feedback on how the solution’s currently configured and what it needs to evolve into. They should also be involved in the testing process to ensure that the revised system works as expected, and to identify training needs in preparation for full rollout to the team.You will require different sales representation, depending on the processes in CRM that you are optimizing. For example, if you’re optimizing an account management process in CRM, then you would want to involve account managers.
  5. IT Staff - Most SaaS CRMs and sales enablement applications require far less involvement from IT than previously. However, IT may get involved in the actual implementation of the solution and program management. They are definitely involved with data security and integrity, integrating CRM into other systems and testing systems. IT may also provide or manage resources needed for custom programming or reporting.
  6. Supporting Functions: Marketing, Customer Service, and Finance - Supporting functions are responsible for ensuring that they provide information on what the business needs in order to get the necessary information, such as reports, visibility, analytics, and data. You need to ensure that those are in sync with the rest of the project. These roles can vary depending on the scope of the project, but their involvement in the planning of a CRM implementation is critical.

Although it may seem like there are many roles involved in the CRM optimization and implementation process, a representative group of stakeholders is important to project success. Taking different perspectives and needs into account, up front in the planning process, prevents the costly reworking and chaos of a poor implementation.

If you need to make your CRM system easier to use and more productive for your sales team, we can help you. Please contact us for a risk-free consultation, and download our white paper on effective sales enablement.

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