The Fight for the CRM Admin: The “Floater”

“In which department should my CRM (Customer Relationship Management) administrator reside?” Not an uncommon question; not a straightforward answer. As a past CRM administrator, analyst, and manager, I usually reported directly to sales departments. However, this doesn’t mean it’s the best place CRM admins should reside, nor is there a “universal” correct answer.

Regardless of department, I would advise that any CRM person take a “floater” approach when dealing with multiple departments, processes, and system design and administration. This means companies should fill a CRM role with someone who possesses characteristics that encourage neutrality and open-mindedness, regardless of what inter- and intra-departmental requests come his or her way. Floaters have the ability to look at the “big picture” and connect the pieces of the “process puzzle” between departments, not just within one.

Floaters think of the acceleration and advancement of the business as a whole, not as a single department.

While all departments – especially sales and marketing – can benefit from having immediate control over the design and process of the CRM, success is short-lived. Sure, changing a system to fit your team’s immediate needs advances your team’s CRM adoption and usability. But, it doesn’t always get other departments on board. Floaters include all departments involved in strategic and visionary pow-wows and ask for all-encompassing feedback on feature implementations to company CRM users. Floaters take additional time to learn about interdepartmental daily workflows, forms of collaboration, job responsibilities, and can easily locate inefficiencies in processes.

How is long-term CRM success achieved? By hiring someone who can subconsciously and naturally exhibit and put to use a “floater” approach.

So, we revisit our original question, “In which department should my CRM Administrator reside?” If and only if we have an exemplary “floater” in our CRM role should we discuss the  ideal department. The top 3 departments to place a CRM admin include:

  • Sales
  • IT
  • Marketing

Sales is the first place many CRM admins are placed. Advantages include a quick turnaround of sales requests, support, training, and troubleshooting and availability of the admin to the sales team(s). Since many CRM users are actually sales personnel, this is usually an obvious (and go-to) fit.

IT is the most neutral positioning of a CRM admin and typically is structured to look at all business process requests in a “help desk” type format with prioritization, timelines, deadlines, and a more structured implementation and launch phase rollout. Placing an admin here also helps a company keep a “big picture” view of all paid solutions and tools which indirectly results in reducing duplicate solution costs/spend.

Finally, marketing departments succeed with CRM admins because they integrate the marketing initiatives within the CRM (and sales process) and rely heavily on analytics and stats to track ROI. This analytics-focused approach overflows into sales processes which create transparency and encourages constant collaboration between marketing and sales (and ultimately, alignment between the two).

So, in what department should a CRM admin reside? Any department, as long as you have the right person! CRM admins who embrace the “floater” approach will succeed and bring people together. Floaters think of the acceleration and advancement of the business as a whole, not as a single department.

Solidifying CRM tactics is just one of many business practices B2B marketers should be considering in 2016. For more trends to pay attention to in the New Year, read Manufacturing Predictions for 2016: How to Apply Them to Industrial Marketing Trends.


Read our manufacturing marketing publication The MFG Standard. This issue is dedicated to setting 2016 marketing budgets and maintaining success throughout the year.

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