How To Manage CRM At Your Organization

How To Manage CRM At Your Organization

This post was updated on June 13, 2022

“It’s no one department’s responsibility to own the relationships. It’s everyone’s.”

Your customer relationship management (CRM) system holds everything you need to know about your customers. It’s the central hub that your teams turn to for all their customer information needs.

Your CRM is up to date with information from different departments. A bunch of people will use it. 

This raises the question:

How should you manage the CRM at your organization?

  • What information should be included in a CRM, and who makes that decision?
  • Who usually handles CRM support?
  • What does a CRM administrator do? 

This guide will help you understand how a CRM should be managed in your business, from high-level data management to departmental best practices.

Table of Contents

What is a CRM? 

Let’s start simple, what is CRM exactly?

The acronym CRM stands for customer relationship management. It’s pretty straightforward, then; it’s the practice (and associated processes) of managing customer relationships, whether in a B2C or B2B environment.

The idea is this: if a business can improve the relationship between its brand and its customers, it’ll improve customer satisfaction, retain buyers for longer (or see an increase in repeat sales), drive more referrals to friends and family members, and ultimately grow revenue more successfully.

This is an important undertaking, clearly, so much so that it’s spawned an entire category of software products, also known as CRM (confusing, we know).

CRM platforms (also known as CRM software or simply “a CRM”) are software tools designed to help teams manage their customer relationships management practices.

CRMs are often the nucleus of a customer tech stack. They store all customer data (names, contact details, buying preferences, logs of customer interactions, customer loyalty behaviors, etc.) and connect with other cloud computing and desktop tools used to manage relationships throughout the customer journey (such as email marketing tools or customer support platforms).

CRM software is used by sales, support, customer success, and marketing departments. Basically, any team that works with customers in any capacity.

What does a CRM system do? 

CRMs are very powerful software tools; they’re much more than a central data repository for customer information.

Naturally, the features of a given CRM vary from platform to platform, and the specific functions you’ll use will change by team.

Marketing departments use CRM to:

  • Deliver lead nurture email campaigns
  • Review and analyze buyer data to inform persona creation and targeting
  • Integrate with digital advertising and social media platforms
  • Capture leads for sales teams
  • Grow relationships with existing customers
  • Push out product development notifications

For sales teams, a CRM is more about:

  • Capturing and storing customer data (for example, integrating with sales intelligence tools to supplement firmographic data)
  • Running sales outreach cadences using automated emails, SMS, social media messages, and phone call reminders
  • Booking meetings using calendar integrations and scheduling tools
  • Reporting on and analyzing progress toward targets and quotas
  • Managing sales pipelines
  • Keeping a record of all customer communications for use in future sales conversations 

Customer success and support teams also use CRM features, though they’re more focused on:

  • Identifying opportunities to upsell into whitespace
  • Keeping a record of support tickets and technical challenges to provide a more cohesive customer experience
  • Analyzing data to understand common challenges with customer onboarding
  • Reporting on customer success metrics like Net Revenue Retention

Naturally, there is some overlap in the ways each department uses a CRM and, in particular, the benefits they gain from its implementation.

What are the benefits of using a CRM for your business? 

CRM platforms provide several benefits for both your current customers and your organization, which include:

  • Improved customer experience throughout the entire buyer’s journey
  • Enhanced reporting and analytics
  • Efficiency gains through automation and integrations
  • Consistency in customer communications (through templated messages)
  • Fewer data errors through information centralization
  • Improved customer segmentation
  • More accurate sales forecasting and predictions
  • Insights into customer behavior 
  • The ability to understand best practices for sales agents
  • Optimized sales processes
  • Better cross-team collaboration 

How to choose the right CRM for your organization 

Every organization will have slightly different needs when choosing a CRM. Though this is true, a few features will be mission-critical across the board.

Automation

Sales, marketing, and customer service automation can save dozens of hours a week, making your team more efficient, more cost-effective, and better able to deliver a more consistent customer experience.

Customer support

Every platform will offer a different level and style of support. It’s up to you to determine whether you’re after:

  • 24/7 support, or only during business hours
  • A dedicated support rep, or if you’re happy dealing with a different person each time
  • Chat, phone, email, or video support access

Integrations

The CRM is far from the only tool sales, customer service representatives, and marketing professionals use to capture data, communicate with current customers, and ultimately drive revenue.

In an ideal world, every component in your software tech stack will play nicely together through native integration.

Consider:

  • What software and customer data platforms are you using right now?
  • Are there any you might like to bring on in the future?
  • Does this CRM integrate natively with each of them?
  • If not, can you set up custom integrations using a tool like Zapier?

Reporting and analytics

One of the major benefits of modern CRMs is the ability to look deep into key metrics and results and analyze performance at every step of the sales process.

Look for a CRM with a robust reporting suite and the ability to build custom dashboards, so all your favorite reports are accessible at a glance.

Three keys aspects of a CRM management 

Managing a CRM at your organization essentially breaks down into 3 core responsibilities:

  1. Managing business process
  2. Managing data
  3. Managing training education 

Here, we’ll discuss strategies for each of the 3 aspects of CRM management.

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Managing business processes at your organization

Proper management of business processes (that is, with regard to using the CRM at your organization) is the job of the CRM administrator.

business processes at your organization
Managing business processes

Your CRM admin will have the opportunity to implement new processes that eliminate inefficiencies and boost productivity.

Faced with a complicated question, the CRM administrator uses their technical understanding of your CRM—and your business—to help find answers and make decisions.

What kind of knowledge does the CRM administrator need to have?

  • Technical knowledge. Mastery of the technical side of CRMs helps your admin understand how to translate real-world problems into CRM-speak. The more technical knowledge, the more creative answers are possible.
  • Troubleshooting. Tech breaks. More importantly, CRMs can give weird results when the data is bad or poorly organized—or just set up wrong. These mistakes can break your CRM, so the CRM owner needs to be able to diagnose and fix them.
  • Business knowledge. You can click around a CRM all day—but what matters? What information will change how you do business? The CRM owner needs to understand your business, or they won’t be able to help you make decisions.
  • Your organization. Who is affected by your CRM? The person in charge of CRM needs to know, so they can communicate changes and solve internal pain points.

See where a CRM might be able to support your existing processes?

Look at the CRM through the lens of your marketing team. Think about their roles and where they struggle. How do they know when a lead is qualified and ready to go to sales?

Why not create a lead scoring process to automatically track engagement and send qualified leads to sales?

By understanding your business processes and locating the inefficiencies, your CRM team can create new, effective uses for your CRM and help your organization grow.

Managing CRM data at your organization

Customer data is updated and added to your CRM all day, every day. There are going to be mistakes in data entry. And your customer information will naturally become outdated over time. 

Customer information is the lifeblood of your CRM. But a poorly formed customer profile is more harmful than it is helpful.

Auditing and cleaning your data is critical for your business and a big part of being in charge of your CRM.

time vs money
Time vs. money

Customer data is in a constant state of change. Critical data fields can change every year. These include:

  • Email Addresses
  • Phone Numbers
  • Postal Addresses
  • Job Titles
  • Job Functions
  • Organization/Company
  • Value
  • Website

With inaccurate data, your sales reps will waste time calling dead numbers and sending emails to no one. The time and effort it takes to do this could be spent selling to interested prospects who actually exist.

example of crm data
Example of crm data

If this info isn’t accurate, you’ll waste your time calling no one!

Bad data impacts more than just sales. When email lists aren’t properly maintained, marketing emails go to dead ends and bounce back. Your deliverability and sending reputation drop, and your organization can end up on blocklists.

Your open rates, click-through rates, response rates, and sales will plummet—all because of bad customer information!

Data governance is a key part of CRM management. Whoever is tasked with being in charge of your CRM should regularly audit your customer information.

There are 7 steps to an information audit:

  1. Locate all information
  2. Prioritize the information by value to your business
  3. Remove any duplicate or incorrect information
  4. Resolve any conflicting information
  5. Add data where it is missing
  6. Create a uniform system for data entry
  7. Repeat audit process at least once every year

The CRM owner isn’t solely responsible for data health, but it is their job to implement data management processes, communicate best practices, and ensure they’re followed.

Your users need to be on the same page. And it’s up to your CRM owner to get them there.

CRM training and education at your organization

Communication and training are critical to the successful use of your CRM.

CRM training and education at your organization
CRM training and education is important

Many sales reps see a CRM as a management tool that constantly monitors them. This leads them not to use it at all. Too often, a CRM implementation creates more problems than it solves.

Why?

Your CRM can’t be effective if nobody uses it! Your team needs to understand it. They need to know why they should use it.

The ways you use your CRM will change as your business grows, and every change will affect how your team interacts with your tech. If they don’t understand the fundamentals of your CRM, it’s going to be much harder to adapt to changes.

That’s why your CRM owner needs to train your team—to make sure your CRM is used correctly even when things change.

Your CRM owner should handle training.

Don’t underestimate the importance of communication skills when choosing your CRM owner. Communicating the technical knowledge to non-technical people helps promote and encourage CRM use.

A CRM owner can help train people on how to use your CRM. 

But…who are your users?

Managing a CRM within your organization’s departments

There are use cases for many departments to use CRM, but which makes the most sense for your organization?

CRM within your organization’s departments
A CRM can wear many hats

Now that you know what “owning the CRM” means for your business, you can consider who should use it.

  • Sales?
  • Marketing?
  • Support?
  • Some mixture of the 3?

Each department has potential uses for a CRM system. They all manage customer relationships at some point in the customer journey. Choosing the primary department of users for your CRM will help you to narrow down who should be in charge of it.

When should sales use CRM?

Do these problems sound familiar?

  1. “We’re wasting too much time searching through Excel to find notes for this prospect’s situation.”
  2. “We have 3 different email addresses for this potential customer in 3 different places.”
  3. “They were ready to buy, but they got away. We didn’t have a reminder to call and get the deal done.”
  4. “How many times have we talked with this prospect? What have we talked about?”
  5. “I can’t keep track of all these prospects.”
  6. “They were interested but went with someone else. We didn’t follow up soon enough.”

These problems are classic indicators that sales should use your CRM. By implementing CRM to solve these problems, the above scenarios become:

  1. “Here are the notes from our past customer interactions. Their timeline is coming up quickly.”
  2. “Her email changed 3 times this year, but the newest is right here.”
  3. I set a task to follow up in 2 days and get the deal over the line.”
  4. “Last time we spoke, he said they were potentially interested in multiple services.”
  5. “I’ve got 15 follow-up calls from last week’s event and 10 from yesterday.”
  6. “It looks like they’re evaluating a few options. Let’s come back with an offer this afternoon.”

What if you have problems higher up in your funnel?

When should marketing use CRM?

Are these your problems?

  1. “Where did this lead come from?”
  2. “What is this customer interested in?”
  3. “Did we send them an invitation to our event next week?”
  4. “Does everyone get the newsletter? Does everyone want the newsletter?
  5. “How did that Facebook ad campaign turn out? Should we do another?”
  6. “Which subject line do you think will get more people to open?”

It sounds like your marketing team needs a CRM! By using a marketing CRM, you can change this to:

  1. “She signed up for a discovery session after the webinar.”
  2. Site tracking data tagged him as interested in Personal Development.”
  3. “22 people RSVPd for the event already.”
  4. “The newsletter goes out to about 65% of our total email list.”
  5. “We got 30 new leads from the Facebook campaign.”
  6. Split test results favored subject line C, so we switched to that.”

What if customer support is your biggest issue?

When should support use CRM?

Can you answer these customer questions?

  1. “How long has this customer been with us?”
  2. “What is the issue?”
  3. “I don’t know how to help this person. Who should I give this to?”
  4. “How long has this ticket been open?”
  5. “Has anyone tried to solve this problem yet?”
  6. “What are the most common issues our customers face?”

With a support-centric CRM, these problems transform into:

  1. “This customer has been with us for 4 years.”
  2. “She can’t log into her account.”
  3. “I escalated this ticket to a higher priority.”
  4. “This issue hasn’t been resolved in 5 hours. We should focus on this first.”
  5. “We solved a problem like this last week!”
  6. “These are the 3 most frequent problems our customers are facing.”

When you know which problems you’re solving with the CRM, you know who benefits the most from using it. These are your users.

Managing your CRM – Who’s in charge?

“Things only get done if the data we gather can inform and inspire those in a position to make a difference.” -Mike Schmoker

Managing your CRM - Who’s in charge?
Who will be in charge of your CRM management?

In most cases, a CRM is used for managing your customer acquisition process.

The problems it solves are related to making your sales more efficient.

The sales team is responsible for much of the information added and updated in the CRM. They will be relying on it as their source of truth for all things prospect-related.

Marketing plays a role as well but is less hands-on than sales. Marketing information primarily finds its way into the CRM through marketing automation. The processes need to be configured, but after that, it’s self-updating.

Support will rely on info already in the CRM from marketing and sales.

They will add and update customer records with any support or issue-related information.

CRM management will fall on each department:

  • Sales: Customer acquisition and sales prospect information
  • Marketing: Lead sourcing and engagement tracking
  • Support: History of contact center agent communication and service information

Your CRM owner should have visibility into the day-to-day activities of your business’ challenges and where improvements can be made. They should understand your business processes, have technical knowledge, and be able to communicate the needs and updates as they unfold.

The most important things in deciding CRM ownership are defining the responsibilities and who will be using the system. Once you have that, you can effectively assign ownership to the best-positioned person(s).

Conclusion 

Managing a CRM at your organization can be a time-consuming and challenging process. Crucial will be the management of documentation and guidance around best practices, responsibilities, and expectations.

Having a flexible, scalable CRM platform helps too. Check out ActiveCampaign’s sales CRM, or give it a spin for yourself with a free 14-day trial.

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