The state of CRM: Choosing the right CRM to align teams

Best Practices

An inside look at how sales, marketing & customer service teams are leveraging their CRM for a better customer experience.

When utilized to its fullest, a customer relationship management (CRM) system can provide businesses of all sizes and industries a host of benefits. These systems can be a catalyst for achieving the goals of individual departments and the organization as a whole. According to the research that follows, the top two strategic priorities in the year ahead for all mid-market organizations surveyed are revenue growth and improving the customer experience. But leveraging a CRM that actually helps deliver an exceptional customer experience that ultimately drives revenue needs to be implemented across multiple teams and throughout the customer journey, which is no easy task.


That is why we created Choosing the Right CRM to Align Teams survey: To discover how over 500 B2B sales, marketing, customer success, and sales/rev/mar operations professionals from mid-market organizations are utilizing CRMs across their organizations in order to drive growth.



Poor customer experiences are costing organizations in a big way.

The interactions your organization has with customers are, well, everything. At every touchpoint across every stage of their journey, customers expect to be known and heard. Consistency, value, and personalization are now essential to meeting the needs of today’s B2B customers.But according to our research, there is significant room for improvement when it comes to delivering extraordinary experiences. Overall, only 18% of those surveyed say they are delivering exceptional customer experiences.



This group gives us particularly valuable insight into the inner workings of how the “best-in-class” fuction and you will see them referenced throughout this report as Best-in-Class Perspective.


What is at stake?

So what is actually at stake for businesses delivering less-than-stellar customer experiences? Revenue. Those with the best customer experiences are 2.5X more likely to report significant growth than all others. Over one- third (36%) of those who rate their customer experience as “best-in-class” report a significant increase in revenue growth last year, compared to just 14% of those who delivered less-than- exceptional customer experiences.

Overestimating your customer satisfaction? New research shows you’re not alone.



At the bottom of the list of strategic priorities in the year ahead is aligning departments. This is a problem. Aligning adjacent departments such as sales, marketing, customer success, and operations teams requires unifying their data and supporting technology to enable a complete view of the customer across their entire journey with your brand.

But just one-in-five (19%) organizations surveyed report having aligned technology and customer data used by marketing, sales, and customer support/success teams. Our research indicates that those with completely aligned technology and customer data see a myriad of benefits.


Over one-third (36%) of companies with completely aligned technology and customer data across their marketing, sales, and customer success teams saw a significant increase in revenue last year (compared to just 14% of those with less alignment).

The bottom line: alignment drives growth.

Better Alignment Means Better CX

While 43% of those with complete alignment describe the experience a customer has with their brand as exceptional, only 11% of those with less alignment are delivering exceptional experiences.




An effective CRM aligns technology and data

So how do we align technology and data across teams? An effective CRM unifies the data and technology that can be used to drive growth. 

In fact, 95% of those who are extremely satisfied with their CRM solution have mostly or completely aligned technology and data across teams. 



Sales teams are reportedly the least satisfied with their current CRM solution with nearly one-quarter (22%) saying they are somewhat or extremely unsatisfied. 

Benefits of an effective CRM

The top benefits of effectively utilizing a CRM according to those who are extremely satisfied with their solution, include better customer data (including quality and completeness), more organized and streamlined processes, improved customer experience, and higher sales.



How are organizations managing customer relationships?

A 60% majority of mid-market organizations are using a formal CRM tool (either a low cost small business CRM, a mid-market CRM, or an Enterprise CRM). 15% have an internally developed system that they utilize to manage customer relationships and another 17% use spreadsheets. 



Those who utilize formal CRM tools (low or no cost, mid-market, or enterprise solutions) report more satisfaction with their current solution than those using an internally developed tool or spreadsheets.

Only 8% of those surveyed report not having a CRM solution to manage customer relationships. 

This group reports not feeling a need to do so (24%) and too much time/resources required to implement (18%) as their top reasons for not implementing. 

Only 5% of this group reports delivering an exceptional customer experience.

Those who utilize formal CRM tools (low or no cost, mid-market, or enterprise solutions) report more satisfaction with their current solution than those using an internally developed tool or spreadsheets.



The problem with enterprise solutions


Enterprise CRM users are significantly more likely to complain about initial and ongoing cost of their CRM (41% of Enterprise CRM users list this as a top complaint vs 24% of all others).


Two-thirds of enterprise CRM users are from departments with 50 employees or less.

This signals that these organizations have over-invested in a solution they likely underutilize. 



3.0 Selecting the right CRM

Current Shoppers

Over one-third (34%) of organizations will be shopping for a CRM in the coming year. This group of shoppers lists the top priorities driving their search as improving workflows and processes as well as improving the customer experience. This is yet another indication that the right CRM drives workflow alignment between teams and a great customer experience.



The importance of finding the right solution.



Nearly two-thirds (62%) of those surveyed report having used their current CRM solution for three years or less. Interestingly, 41% of this group report that their organization will be shopping for a new CRM solution in the coming year. It is important to thoroughly evaluate CRM options and find a solution that answers the top priorities of your organization. 




Biggest Complaints

The top complaints about the current CRM being used overall are missing or inadequate features (28%), cost (27%), and difficulty customizing (26%). 

These top listed complaints vary by job level. Those in executives and VP roles are most concerned with the inability to scale and initial and ongoing costs while managers and directors feel strongly that their CRM solutions are missing important features or are hard to customize (require code).



Key Decision-Makers

There are disparities between departments about who is driving the decision-making for a new CRM solution. Sales and Marketing both believe that their respective departments have almost equal weight in the decision-making process as executive leadership.



98% of those with completely aligned data and technology agree that a CRM tool is more effective if more employees across different teams properly utilize it. 




Essential functions and features

Sales, marketing, customer success, and operations teams interact with CRM features differently. To encourage alignment, it is important for purchase decision-makers to address the needs of each team and how they might utilize a CRM solution.



A unified customer view

Across all teams, dashboard visualization of reporting and analytics is essential. Creating a unified view of the customer is imperative to providing an exceptional customer experience. Over two-thirds (68%) of those surveyed report having customer data stored in multiple locations. Storing customer data across several different platforms limits access across teams and ultimately results in an uninformated and disjointed journey.  

A 360-degree unified customer view often includes the following data:

  • CRM and customer data
  • Behavioral data
  • Marketing channel interactions
  • Sales representatives’ interactions
  • Support tickets
  • Project status

By enabling this unified customer view, organizations are given a better understanding of the customer. This allows for improved personalization and a better overall customer experience, not to mention more efficient workflows and processes.



Top challenges to implementation

Implementing a CRM solution across an organization not only requires full buy-in from several departments but also allocated time and resources dedicated to executing the roll-out strategy. 

Training time plagues 43% of those surveyed when implementing a CRM solution. Integrating with existing systems, followed by data migration and complexity are also top challenges for those surveyed. 




Integrating with existing systems

For 40% of those surveyed, integrating a new CRM into existing systems is a major challenge during the implementation process. A CRM that can speak to the rest of your technology stack ensures data accessibility throughout your organization and enable a unified view of the customer.

The most useful integrations according to those surveyed are QuickBooks, ADP, and WordPress, but this varies by who you ask. Sales puts Zoominfo among the top of this list while Customer Success and Ops professionals place a higher value on Workday. 

Connect Insightly CRM with 500+ tools using AppConnect, a low-code/no code integration tool.



What are the most useful/essential integrations into your CRM system?

  1. Quickbooks—44%
  2. ADP—27%
  3. WordPress—24%
  4. Shopify—23%
  5. Workday—21%
  6. Slack—20%
  7. Zoominfo—19%
  8. Calendy—16%
  9. Asana—10%
  10. Jira—9%
  11. Magento—9%
  12. Xero—7%
  13. Okta—7%
  14. Gong—5%



What is there to lose?

Failed implementation of a CRM can cost organizations greatly. Not overcoming these challenges results in employee frustration, wasted staff time, and missed opportunities for revenue according to 51%, 44%, and 43% of those surveyed respectively.




Participants and Methodology




Ascend2 benchmarks the performance of business strategies and the tactics and technology that drives them. With a custom online questionnaire, our “Choosing the Right CRM to Align Teams” survey was fielded throughout the month of April, 2022 to a panel of 511 professionals representing sales, marketing, customer success, and related operations teams and who self-identified as management through higher-level job functions such as directors, VPs, and executive roles. These individuals represent business-to-business (B2B) organizations in the US with 50 – 500 employees across several industries. 


Research partner: Ascend2

Companies partner with Ascend2 to create original research, from survey conceptualization through report and content creation to media outreach. Ascend2 helps companies fuel marketing content, generate leads, and engage prospects to drive demand through the middle of the funnel. Learn more about Ascend2.