Most sales and line of business leaders agree that a properly deployed and adopted Customer Relationship Management (CRM) can increase sales and marketing effectiveness among many other benefits.

However, B2B companies often struggle to realize the potential benefits of their CRM, even after many years of effort. The main culprit of the lack of success in our experience is deficiencies in CRM leadership, rather than the CRM tool.

We’ve identified eight characteristics that you should expect from a strong B2B CRM leader:

  • They don’t tolerate functional bias – IT, Sales, Marketing, Sales Operations, Finance, Sales Enablement, Leadership, and Operations all have a role and a stake in CRM success. If a particular function imprints their mentality on the deployment and administration, you’ll find distortions and resistance to CRM adoption.
  • Making change and CRM processes durable is 1st priority – They recognize that underinvesting in the right support, training, and coaching will ensure failure.
  • Data, data hygiene, and data quality are 2nd priority – Data issues are heavily process-driven and require commitment and leadership from sales and marketing. It’s a team effort and they know how to get everyone on the same page.
  • They diagnose, prioritize, and mobilize change – CRMs effect change throughout organizations that often can’t keep up with the change. Knowing what support is needed to effect change is more important than deploying functionality.
  • They have sales and marketing on their resume – CRM is heavily sales and marketing-centric and requires an end-to-end approach. Today, the best CRM leaders have grown up with CRMs. You’ll want someone in the 45-55 age range that has a blend of practitioner experience and past CRM leadership. 
  • They understand CRM and Marketing Automation – Separate teams and budget owners often manage investments in CRM and marketing automation. The best leaders manage marketing automation and CRM as one.
  • They recognize if they have the right resources – Inexperienced people in crucial roles or “B” grade 3rd party resources will add at least months and in most cases years to CRM adoption and success.
  • They listen and manage expectations – CRM leadership can seem like hand-to-hand combat at times with multiple stakeholders coming at them in full. Listening to competing priorities and understanding how to help the organization accomplish its goals without pleasing all of the people all of the time is a required skill.

Fifteen years ago CRM was an emerging technology that few people knew how to manage and leverage for organizational success.

Today, CRM leaders are as essential as IT or Finance. If your CRM is failing you, look for the characteristics mentioned above in your next CRM sales leader.

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