CRM is like your business’s own private social network. Success depends on the information and content that your users put into it. But who handles how it works? Who owns the information? Who owns the processes?

Who owns CRM?

Everyone who uses your customer relationship management software (CRM) owns it. Think of it like a publicly traded company – anyone who has a share is a part-owner. Certain groups hold more shares, and therefore more ownership.

There are 4 groups that use CRM:

  1. Sales
  2. Marketing
  3. Service/Support
  4. Leadership

But, who has ultimate say? If each group is asking for a new update, a different workflow, or has conflicting opinions– who makes the call? Which group has the responsibility?

Ultimate CRM ownership belongs to the individual or group that compiles, analyzes, and acts on the customer information. People like:

  • CEO
  • Sales Manager
  • Sales Operations
  • CRM admin
  • Data/business analyst
  • Operations manager
  • Database/system administrator

Who holds the information?

CRM ownership boils down to 1 key action: data-based decision making.

The biggest share of CRM ownership belongs to whoever makes decisions by using the customer information that’s in the system.

So… Who’s got the data? Who owns reporting and analytics? They should own the CRM as well.

This will change as your business grows.

  • At first the CEO should own CRM (and everything, really)
  • Once the business expands to include a sales manager or executive then CRM ownership should transition to them
  • As the business expands to include a sales operations team, they should assume ownership of the CRM

Why sales operations?

Sales ops finds the best, fastest, and most efficient ways to add customers. They do this by looking at all the data that goes into customer acquisition. Sales ops understands the business processes from prospecting to lead generation; from sales to customer retention.

Sales ops also helps customer acquisition teams through technology. They update and change tools that the business is already using, and add new tools and capabilities as well.

They’re the most qualified and best positioned to be the authority on CRM.

Whatever stage your business is in, the CRM owner is someone who:

  • Understands the business
  • Has access to the information
  • Uses the information to better understand the business
  • Makes decisions with the newfound information

The job breaks down into a few key areas:

  1. Understanding business processes
  2. Identifying trends and issues
  3. Making changes to the processes and workflows
  4. CRM data governance (of course)
  5. Integration and automation set up
  6. Analytics, reporting, evaluation

The CRM owner has access to the customer information as well as the technical know-how. They will work with other teams to create useful reports and valuable insight from the information.

Data-based decision making is the biggest responsibility of the CRM admin. All the other steps and qualities are to get them in a position where they have all the tools they need. Then their decisions will be effective and valuable.

But it’s not all on them. Everyone who adds information is a part-owner. The health and success of the CRM is everyone’s responsibility.

Commonly, 4 groups use CRM in an organization. And they all have jobs as part-owners.

  • Marketing – owns the top of the funnel. They are responsible for campaigns and lead generation.
  • Sales – owns the middle of the funnel. They are responsible for converting leads to customers and logging the sales process to get them there.
  • Service & Support – owns the bottom of the funnel. They are responsible for solving problems, customer retention, and logging each situation within the correct record.
  • Leadership – works with CRM admin team to analyze data and track the performance of their team and area.

These 4 groups have some degree of system ownership and freedom, but are under the CRM owner.

When does marketing own CRM?

Marketing owns the top of the funnel. They are responsible for creating awareness, educating prospects, and generating leads.

They own the marketing campaign data in the CRM. Marketing has to make sure that all of their data is being pulled into the CRM – and if it isn’t then they must work with the admin to get it there.

This means information from

  • Email campaigns
  • Social media
  • Webinars
  • Events
  • Website and blog traffic

has to make it into the system for sales and other teams further down the funnel to use in their processes. Any decisions you make with incomplete data won’t be as accurate.

Let’s look at the facts. All the facts. (via GIPHY)

The marketing team should work with the CRM admin team to run useful reports, analyze the results and make tweaks to the existing processes.

After all, the CRM admin isn’t a marketing expert. This is a team effort and requires you to take advantage of the resources you have.

Marketing focuses on 2 things:

  1. Getting all the relevant customer information from every lead
  2. Maximizing the amount of leads they bring in

Marketing owns CRM until prospects become leads.

When does sales own CRM?

Sales owns the sales process and the middle of the funnel, from qualified lead to customer.

CRM is the sales team’s source of truth. It holds everything they need to know to close the sale.

Sales is also the team who changes information the most in CRM. Throughout the sales process the reps are constantly changing and updating contact records. They log

  • New details from phone conversations
  • Email replies
  • Demonstrations

They own the static information and must make sure they’re entering it correctly. Sales and the CRM admin work together to create rules for data entry.

When everyone follows the same rules, the data is consistent. When the data is consistent it’s easier to see trends and gain insights from it. It’s better for everyone.

Sales has historically been the default for CRM ownership. But today’s CRMs are more versatile. Tools like email automation, chat, and social media integrations give clear benefits to other teams.

Now, sales only owns a section of the system instead of the whole thing.

Sales should also work with the CRM admins to have continuous feedback on key performance indicators (KPIs) such as:

These metrics measure both team and individual performance. This is helpful from an organization and coaching point of view.

These KPIs are a great example of collective CRM ownership. The reps put the data in and own the sales process. The admins pull the data out and own the analytic process.

Once a customer converts they don’t magically fly out of the CRM, but that would be pretty cool. Ownership switches again as they move further down the funnel.

When does customer service and support own CRM?

Customer service and support owns the bottom of the funnel.

Customer support’s CRM process focuses on two goals:

  1. Customer retention
  2. Reducing or eliminating churn

Churn is defined as the percentage of subscribers or customers who end their subscription within a given time. It’s measured as a percentage, and appears in conversations with growth rate.

Growth rate is also measured as a percentage. It shows the change of a given variable within a certain period of time, and most commonly measures revenue.

Service and support own the process of solving customer issues. When they are effective, customers are happy and remain customers. If they’re not, customers leave. Retention goes down and churn goes up.

Phone high fives are difficult to measure, but a great way to observe customer service effectiveness.

But what does this have to do with the CRM?

These teams get ownership of customers once they become customers.

Ideally, all information from marketing and sales is already in the CRM under the right contact record. Then service and support look at the contact record and see the exact journey that each customer took to get where they are.

This is important context for solving the issues that your customers are facing. Service and support work to resolve the problem. They note the event in the CRM, providing more context for the next time.

When every team owns their CRM process and enters information correctly, issues are solved faster.

Service and support teams work with the CRM admin team and pull metrics like:

  • Retention rates
  • Churn rates
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Time needed to solve an issue
  • Common issues and themes

Like sales, these metrics highlight team and individual performance.

But who gets the insight? What do they do with it?

When does leadership own CRM?

Leadership owns CRM from a team perspective. They work with the admin team to analyze the data. Based on their findings, they lead the charge to make changes in the processes.

Gather data, conduct the test, draw conclusions. It’s the SCRMientific method.

Metrics and KPIs are great. They provide teams with insight about their performance. They tell you which areas are doing well, and which areas need improvement. Leadership decides which things to change to continue moving forward.

Leadership uses CRM to monitor their teams and departments. They own the accountability of each team and team member to make sure that everything is on track.

Marketing leadership measures team performance for:

  1. Brand awareness
  2. Lead generation
  3. Campaign effectiveness

Sales leadership looks at:

  1. Quotas (individual and team)
  2. Added revenue
  3. Customers added

Support and service leadership can see:

  1. Churn rates
  2. Customer retention
  3. Average lifetime value of customers

Leadership as a whole then uses these metrics to:

  1. Track performance
  2. Calculate pacing towards goals
  3. Identify problem areas
  4. Evaluate changes

Leadership might not be hands-on in the CRM, but their efforts have a direct impact on their team members who are active in the CRM.

Conclusion: Who owns CRM?

CRM ownership is a web of relationships and responsibilities. It’s a collective effort that requires everyone to play their role and own their actions.

Bingo. (via GIPHY)

The biggest share of ownership belongs to the team who holds the data and has access to it. Ideally, a sales operations or similar team.

The most common CRM owners are

  • CEO (in smaller organizations)
  • Sales manager or executive
  • Sales operations
  • Database/system administrator
  • Business/data analyst

But CRM isn’t necessarily owned by any single person or team. Everyone who uses it creates the CRM’s success and value.

  • End users need the admin to set up the CRM
  • Leadership and the admin need end users to use the CRM
  • End users need leadership to improve the CRM processes
  • Leadership depends on the admin to analyze the data so they know which processes to change
  • The admin needs leadership to pass the insights on to the end users

And on and on.

The ultimate owner of the CRM will change as the business changes. But it all comes down to the information.

  • Who has it?
  • Who understands it?
  • Who can turn it into insight?

That’s the person who should get the keys to the system.