CRM Starts at the Top

Obtaining top-level support for CRM initiatives within the enterprise is one key way to avoid the failures that many projects have seen in the past, according to a report issued by Reservoir Partners. "If there is no involvement at the C-level, then CRM will get deployed departmentally and the business will fail to realize the true value of CRM as an enterprisewide initiative," says Chris Selland, managing director of Reservoir Partners. The firm interviewed and profiled various companies to create some best practices for obtaining C-level involvement. These practices are cataloged in the report, "CRM Leadership Strategies: C-Level's Involvement in the Customer Experience." Selland will also be presenting his findings at DCI's Leadership Summit taking place this week in San Francisco. One area where C-level executives can make an important difference is in getting marketing on board a CRM initiative, according to Selland. "A lot of what CRM does is collect detailed information about the customer, and marketing departments sometimes feel there is nothing in it for them, only for the sales force. The C-level folks have to broaden the definition of CRM, expanding the initiative to include aggregate data that marketing departments can use." Although C-level executives can play a major role in involving specific departments like marketing in CRM, Selland says that these executives have to do more than just give lip service to CRM projects. "There really has to be a C-level presence on the CRM deployment teams in order to drive adoption," Selland says. "If the top-tier executives are not involved on a day-to-day basis, the lower-level executives will not feel as pressured to get on board with the project either."
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