Who Owns CRM: Marketing or Sales?

Updated: October 21, 2010

One could say that managing a CRM system adds a lot of work to a department's plate, and today everyone is already stretched thin during the work day. On the other hand, if you do not take ownership of the CRM system and its data, then you cannot control what happens with it. Is that a good scenario for sales or marketing to take on? I think not!

Marketing needs to be in the know when it comes to sales activities, trends, industry patterns, and even customer service concerns. When they are, they can be proactive (and not just always reactive) to changes in the marketplace, in the company, and in sales patterns.

Sales needs to be in the know when it comes to sales activities, forecasts, quotas, and leads. When they are, they can work as a team to close more deals, request information from marketing in a timely fashion, and dig deeper to get to know their prospects (and close more deals!).

Marketing Owning CRM

Working at a company for four years where my role was managing the database, and being a part of the marketing department, I saw first-hand how this works. Marketing technically owned the system - the department made the decisions of how the system would work, who would use it, what information to put in it, and what to pull out of it. But this was not necessarily ideal.

Sales Owning CRM

In working with some of my clients, I've seen the sales department take a stand to use the system, manage it, and make decisions while the rest of the company did nothing.

Sales and Marketing Sharing Ownership

Based on experience working with various different companies of varying sizes and industries, my assessment is that BOTH departments need to take a somewhat equal ownership of the system - it's not an either-or situation. Marketing and Sales need each other (despite what some of them think) to be successful. Marketing needs good data (or to gather the data) in order to provide sales the information they need to close the deals. In order to help convince the prospects that their product or service is the best out there, Sales needs Marketing to put together strong materials and provide as much research on the prospect company as possible. Ideally, the two departments go hand in hand. In reality, they rarely do.

When both departments take ownership of the CRM system, they can begin speaking the same language and knowing what each other needs without guessing or waiting for tedious meetings. Metrics begin to spring up that make sense to both worlds, instead of it being one-sided, and having to convince the other of your needs. Having one cohesive system with both departments invested in it makes life easier in the long run (and grows revenues for the company).

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