7 Essential CRM Team Roles + BONUS: How to Structure CRM Access

Best Practices

Implementing a new customer relationship management (CRM) platform comes with high expectations. After all, a well-designed CRM system has the power to improve sales team productivity, streamline business operations, increase customer retention, generate more sales, and improve the bottom line.

Despite these undeniable benefits, analysts estimate that up to 69% of CRM projects fail. That’s because CRM success is about more than just choosing the right software solution. Too often, organizations so get bogged down in researching the best CRM products, top vendors, key features, and essential functionality that they forget what’s most important: the people who will ultimately be using the CRM day in and day out.

It’s no small task to select, configure, and launch a CRM solution that meets the needs of its users and helps them do their jobs more effectively. That’s why the first step in any CRM implementation is assembling a cross-functional CRM project team.

Top 7 roles your CRM team needs

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CRM implementation is a journey, not a task to be checked off a list. So it’s critical that you have the right team in place—one that’s committed to the project and invested in its long-term success.

Establishing this “dream team” can make all the difference in terms of user adoption, data integrity, and—ultimately—project ROI. But what should the CRM team look like? And how can you avoid getting too many people involved without leaving out key players?

The exact makeup of your CRM team will depend on several factors, including the size of your company. But there are certain roles that should be represented in any CRM implementation, to improve the chances of achieving your project goals.

Here are seven critical roles to include in your CRM team:


  1.       The project lead

This is arguably the most vital role in any CRM implementation, so it’s important to choose wisely. The project lead will steer your CRM project from start to finish and own its ultimate success (or failure). They are responsible for defining the project’s strategy and goals, assigning roles and responsibilities within the CRM team, and ensuring completion of all deliverables related to the CRM initiative.

The project lead is typically someone who holds a senior position within the organization. However, some companies choose to outsource the role to a consultant with expertise in driving CRM projects. 


  1.       The customer

In this case, the “customer” is a real-life end user, whose role is to ensure the CRM team understands exactly what’s needed from the CRM—and delivers a solution that meets those  needs. They can provide guidance on which features are most critical, offer perspective on necessary customizations, and help to prioritize the importance of various project tasks. While you can’t involve every end user in the CRM implantation, having their voice represented is critical to the project’s ultimate success.


  1.       The cheerleader

Also known as the project champion or executive sponsor, this is a senior leader who believes in the CRM project and throws their support behind it. The cheerleader can help to secure buy-in from the rest of the executive team. They often demonstrate their support for the initiative by sharing key CRM benefits and project status updates across the organization. Knowing this person is rooting for their success can also help to boost team morale when challenges arise.


  1.       The skeptic

It may seem counterintuitive, but skepticism is a healthy part of the implementation process. This person—who is often an experienced sales manager—has high expectations for the CRM and a clear vision of how it needs to work. The skeptic will push the team to come up with a plan, then identify its flaws and point out what’s missing. They are also the first to notice when the solution is unnecessarily complex, redundant, or incompatible with the way your company operates. If you can satisfy the skeptic, you’re well on your way to CRM success.


  1.       The expert

Having an IT expert on the team can help to ensure you understand the technical side of the CRM implementation. The expert serves a critical role in identifying potential issues related to technology requirements, infrastructure, data security, and other considerations that a non-technical person might miss. With a cloud-based CRM solution, the ongoing need for technical support should be minimal. But involving an IT expert in the up-front selection and implementation process can help to minimize headaches in the long run.


  1.       The innovator

This person is typically a free thinker and an early adopter of technology. The innovator is often someone who takes an unconventional approach to their work, which gives them a fresh perspective on business processes and practices. They can help the CRM team find new ways of approaching old problems—an invaluable part of future-proofing your CRM system. They can also find creative ways to tackle the roadblocks you’ll inevitably encounter.


  1.       The tester

The only way to be sure your CRM system works the way you expect is through testing, testing, and more testing. The tester’s role is to dig in and play with every aspect of the CRM system—workflows, settings, fields, categories, buttons, links and more—until everything functions seamlessly. They will raise hundreds of questions and discover countless tips for improving usability. Over time, the tester will develop a deep knowledge and appreciation for your system’s unique functionality, making them an invaluable advocate for user adoption. This person may also organize other groups of testers throughout the organization as part of the role.

BONUS: Structuring CRM access levels

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CRM platforms typically allow you to define user roles with varying permission levels, so you can control access to critical CRM data. This way, you can give each user the ability to view and/or edit the data they need to do their jobs effectively—without compromising data security or CRM system integrity.

There are typically three levels of access that can be assigned:

  • Access level 1 provides high-level users the ability to access, view, edit, and delete data across the entire CRM system.
  • Access level 2 gives managers and other mid-level users permission to access, view, edit, and delete data for their own contacts and accounts, as well as those owned by their direct reports. These users may also have view-only privileges across the CRM system.
  • Access level 3 lets individual contributors access, view, edit, and delete data only for their own contacts and accounts. Users at Level 3 may also have view-only permission for contacts and records owned by other users within their team.

Understanding how different departments and roles use the CRM platform can help to structure custom user roles appropriately and assign the right level of data access. While every organization is different, you can use the following guidance as a starting point for building out your CRM access structure:

Level 1

  • CRM administrator: As business owner of the CRM system, the CRM administrator needs full access to its data and functionality so they can customize the CRM setup, build workflows, and train other users on proper usage.
  • C-level executives: The CFO in particular relies on insights from the CRM to shape financial strategy for the organization. Other top-level company leaders leverage CRM data to monitor key business metrics and inform various strategic initiatives.
  • Sales and marketing leaders: Sales managers need high-level access in order to oversee sales team activities, streamline sales processes, monitor the sales pipeline, and track progress toward business goals. Marketing leaders rely on customer data to track marketing campaign performance and power marketing automation solutions.
  • Data analysts: This role requires high-level access to the CRM system, in order to provide reporting and analysis, perform audits on data and processes, and connect the CRM with other business intelligence solutions.

Level 2

  • Sales reps: Salespeople are typically the primary users of the CRM software. They rely on the CRM to capture contact information, track interactions with both customers and potential customers, and manage every stage in the sales cycle.
  • Marketing team members: CRM data can be extremely useful to marketers for things like audience segmentation and campaign targeting. They may also use CRM automation and workflow functionality to make project management easier.

Level 3

  • Customer service representatives: Service and support teams rely heavily on the CRM’s contact management capabilities to capture contact information and account histories, document customer interactions, and deliver a consistent customer experience.

Note: Based on the size and complexity of your organization, it may be a better fit to put sales and marketing leaders in level 2 and sales and marketing reps in level 3. 

Insightly makes CRM implementation easier

Implementing a CRM is no small task. Most CRM systems can technically be used out of the box. However, they usually require extensive planning to ensure that configuration, implementation, and deployment run smoothly.

Working with the experts at Insightly can help to increase user adoption and maximize your ROI. They’re highly trained in integrating, testing, and customizing your CRM system. They specialize in training users to get full value out of the system. Insightly’s experts take the guesswork out of CRM implementation, leaving you free to focus on other critical business initiatives.

To see Insightly CRM in action, sign up for a free trial today. You can also request a personalized demo to learn how our simple, scalable solution can help your company achieve its business goals.