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

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

Your CRM will be updated with information from different departments. A bunch of different people will use it. This raises the question:

Who should be in charge of CRM for your business?

Who usually handles CRM support? What does a CRM administrator do? What information should not be included in a CRM, and who makes that decision?

When deciding who should manage CRM for your business, there are 3 questions to keep in mind:

  • What problems are you solving using a CRM?
  • What does “being in charge of” or “owning” CRM even mean?
  • Who should use CRM within your organization?

What does “being in charge of” or “owning” the CRM even mean?

Who should be in charge of CRM? If you break that question down, you get smaller questions like:

  • Who decides which information should be collected?
  • Who decides how to organize all the relevant information?
  • Who gives people access to the CRM?
  • Who runs the CRM reports?

A CRM administrator usually bridges the gap between the system and the end users.

What does that mean?

The role of a CRM administrator breaks down into 3 key areas:

  1. Business process management
  2. CRM data governance
  3. CRM training & education

Business process management

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

How do you use technology to tackle challenges in your business?

That’s the job of the CRM administrator. Faced with a big, difficult question, the CRM administrator uses their technical understanding of your CRM – and your business – to help you get answers and make decisions.

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

  • Technical knowledge. Mastery of the technical side of CRM 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 totally 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 gets 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?

71% of sales reps say they spend too much time on data entry. Can this problem be solved with an automated data-entry process?

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 track engagement and send qualified leads to sales automatically?

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

Who makes sure your CRM data is accurate?

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. Studies estimate that 30% – 70% of customer data decays every year.

Customer information is the lifeblood of your CRM. But customer data is harmful if it’s not accurate.

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

DiscoverOrg found that sales departments lose up to 550 hours and $32,000 per rep per year because of bad prospect data.

Bad customer data will cost your business both time and money.

How can bad data cost so much money?

“Contact data ages like fish not wine… it gets worse as it gets older, not better.” — Gregg Thaler, Principal of Business Development at Marketo

Customer data is in a constant state of change. Critical data fields 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 prospects that exist and are interested!

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

Your CRM owner isn’t the only one responsible for the health of your customer information. Other people add and update information on a daily basis, highlighting the importance of a uniform system for data entry.

“Without a systematic way to start and keep data clean, bad data will happen.” — Donato Diorio, renowned data scientist

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

Who handles CRM training & education?

Communication and training are key for the successful use of your CRM.

Many sales reps see CRM as a management tool to constantly monitor them and choose not to use it at all. Too often a CRM implementation creates more problems than it solves.


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 is going to affect how your team interacts with your tech. If they don’t understand the fundamentals of 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.

According to Forrester, 85% of CRM failures are caused by a lack of training and slow user adoption.

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?

Who should use CRM?

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

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

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

Each department has uses for a CRM system. They all manage customer relationships at some point in the customer journey. Choosing the main 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 of these prospects.”
  6. “They were interested but went with someone else, we didn’t follow up soon enough.”

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

  1. “Here are the notes from our past interactions with this prospect. Their timeline is coming up quick.”
  2. “Her email changed 3 times this year, but the newest one 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 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 one?”
  6. “Which subject line do you think will get more people to open?”

Sounds like your marketing team needs a CRM! By using a marketing CRM you can change 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 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, then you know who benefits the most from using it. These are your users.

So… who should be in charge of CRM?

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

In most cases, 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 that gets added and updated in the CRM, and they will be relying on it as their source of truth for all things prospect related.

Marketing plays a role as well, but less hands-on than sales. Marketing information primarily finds its way into the CRM through 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 – Customer history 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).