Essential Guide

Evaluate Weigh the pros and cons of technologies, products and projects you are considering.

CRM leadership: Buying, managing and running a system

This essential guide examines the challenges business leaders face when taking on a CRM project, focusing on the buying process, how to manage the implemented system and the vision it takes to successfully run the platform.


Running a successful CRM platform requires leadership and vision at all stages, from buying to implementation to managing ongoing business processes. While executive-level leaders make the final decisions related to CRM software, they should involve stakeholders and users at all levels of the organization. With the consumerization of IT giving workers higher expectations of the technology they use at the office, making a CRM purchase without the right CRM expertise could be disastrous.

For many, the CRM buying process is the biggest hurdle to overcome. Vendors vie for companies' attention, and it can be hard to cut through the noise and identify the system that is the right fit. But challenges also crop up after a company implements the software. Now that CRM systems are much more than data repositories, they need to bolster sales forces, provide high-quality data, integrate with legacy systems and assist in executing marketing strategies. Running successful CRM initiatives and ensuring long-term success takes vision, patience and a willingness to learn from people both inside and outside of your organization.

This essential guide examines CRM leadership at three stages in the journey: Buying the technology, managing it and running a business correctly to encourage prolonged value. Executives and employees alike can learn how to proceed based on the experiences of leaders who have been in their shoes.

1The buying process-

Evaluating CRM software

Investing in the right technology is the first step in a successful CRM project. Companies need to carefully examine the vendor landscape, try multiple products and weigh the costs of different platforms before they commit to a system. Those in a CRM leadership role should seek advice and best practices from people who have been through the buying and implementation process before.


CRM platforms: Where to start?

In the fast-changing world of CRM products, the sheer number of vendors and features can be challenging to wade through. CRM expert Robert Peledie outlines some key criteria that buyers must consider when shopping for software. Continue Reading


Tweaking the software selection process

Selecting new software requires a long-term vision in order to maximize value. Companies that focus too much on features and functions are being short-sighted. Organizations need to think about how the software will be enhanced to meet their future needs and how it will integrate with legacy systems before they buy. Continue Reading


Weighing the risks and rewards of CRM, ERP upgrades

When a company needs a complete software overhaul, it can be easy to get seduced by feature-rich platforms. One company avoided common pitfalls by focusing on investing in a system that would suit its customer base and work well internally. Continue Reading


Why Microsoft is an underrated CRM leader

Companies looking for a best-in-class CRM option might default to industry heavyweight But there are other vendors out there that are worth a look. Find out why Microsoft has a competitive advantage over other CRM players. Continue Reading


Expert: Why I choose over Microsoft Dynamics

No enterprise CRM buying process is complete without taking a look at the two major players in the market: Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics. While Salesforce can be the more expensive option, its ease of use and support structure makes it worth it, says one expert. Continue Reading

2Managing the system-

Tips and advice

Once a company decides on the CRM system that fits its needs, the challenge shifts to managing the system and maximizing its value. A well-designed and nurtured CRM system can do many things for an organization, including maintaining customer data quality, feeding marketing initiatives with worthwhile leads, helping sales departments reach their goals and enriching relationships with clientele. A good CRM system isn't worth anything if it isn't integrated with legacy data or other back-office systems, so companies need to consider the system's long-term management requirements.


Your CRM system is not a transaction record

If your CRM system is simply used as a place to house customer records and transactions, you're doing it wrong. It's not just a piece of software but a crucial tool that defines your customer relationships and transforms your business operations. Continue Reading


How to promote clean data entry

Analytics, forecasting and reporting can be damaged if your CRM database isn't designed correctly to get the most meaning out of the numbers. There are ways to build data fields to ensure that sales and other departments run smoothly. Continue Reading


Getting marketing automation, CRM systems to talk to each other

The marketing department must be closely integrated with the CRM system for a business to grow. If marketing automation is part of the equation, companies must invest in effective technology to make integration as quick and easy as possible. Continue Reading


Boost your tech skills regardless of experience

Not a tech-savvy person? Don't worry; there are tips and resources that can bolster your developer skills to get the most out of your CRM. A Salesforce expert highlights some training modules, webinars and videos for non-techies to gain the knowledge they need. Continue Reading


Use your CRM to target marketing, sales campaigns

Nurturing, converting and managing prospective customers, or leads, is crucial to any business. CRM systems can help generate good leads, but businesses need to consider how the data is collected and used first. Continue Reading


Revamp your campaign management to enrich relationships

CRM systems can enable businesses to learn from past interactions with customers and boost sales. It's time to rethink "customer lifecycle management" and focus on retargeting marketing and sales efforts using your CRM system. Continue Reading


Professor: Be responsible when gathering data on social media

When companies collect data from social media and mobile devices, they need to ask themselves how they will use it and what they need it for. As companies aggregate this data, often without customers' consent or knowledge, both sides must consider the privacy concerns that are inherent to this practice. Continue Reading


Data management can make or break your customer relationships

Knowing what customer data to collect, how to collect it and what to do with it are important to CRM. Poor data quality can also diminish potential revenue and hamper service offerings. Companies must think about these issues carefully before customer data is collected, analyzed and acted on. Continue Reading


Could self-service change the traditional sales model?

Instead of conducting a traditional sales process, collaboration software provider Atlassian builds self-service into its product to help customers make purchases on their own. The company is focused on developing its product and making it easier for customers to use, a different approach that could support the future of B2B IT purchasing. Continue Reading

3Running a CRM system-

CRM leadership

Business leaders need to possess vision, patience and expertise in their fields. Those qualities are essential to running a CRM project and ensuring its long-term success, but they aren't learned overnight. Before embarking on a new project, learn from people who have used their skills to get the most out of their CRM systems and get a leg up on next-level CRM leadership.


CIO: IT, business goals must be intertwined

As a leader who understands the business challenges of planning for IT projects, Celso Mello, CIO of a Canadian home heating and cooling provider, constantly looks for ways to implement the best technology in the most cost-effective way. "Technology only makes sense if it improves things for customers, shareholders and employees," he says. Continue Reading


Lessons learned from building a sales team from scratch

For Russ Hearl, jumping into the trenches with his sales team has been the secret sauce to success. The sales leader at DoubleDutch created a separate research unit to support his salespeople and feed them good leads. He's an evangelist for an assembly line-inspired approach to sales. Continue Reading


Five tips to become a CIO

So, you want to be a CIO someday? Take some advice from Mello: Build credibility by taking risks and developing your decision-making skills. Continue Reading


Using data analysis to make key business decisions

In an era where information on products is freely available on the Web, technology buyers can choose to never interact with a salesperson. Sales teams must become consultative to add value in this environment. HubSpot's Mark Roberge shares his data-driven approach to hiring and training. Continue Reading


IT deserves a seat at the table during M&A activity

Mergers and acquisitions are typically the domain of business-line executives. But technologists must seize the opportunity to work more closely with their counterparts and make sure that they understand the potential changes to IT infrastructure, costs, staffing and other areas. Continue Reading

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