CRM is the "System of Record" for Sales

CRM is the "System of Record" for Sales

CRM is the "System of Record" for Sales

For sales teams in the enterprise, CRM is the “system of record”. It’s used every day by reps to document their activities and track their key Accounts and Opportunities. It’s used by sales managers to do forecasting and run efficient operations.

Its information also flows into enterprise-wide business intelligence and dashboards for analysis. Therefore, if CRM information is incorrect, it hurts not only sales teams, but also the rest of the company.

This is Part 2 in our series, The Intelligent CRM.

Enterprise data no longer lives in separate silos

We’ve quickly come a long way since the time when data existed within silos in an enterprise. These data silos were disjointed from other systems and plenty of data was duplicated across silos.

For enterprises aiming to manage complex information systems, flows of data between tools are critically important.

For example, in sales and marketing orgs, the marketing automation and CRM systems need to communicate with each other to share information on leads, customers, and campaigns.


There are many other sources of information flowing into CRM, which is helpful in some ways, but also leads to enormous governance headaches. A few rogue CSV imports can do damage (e.g. accidentally creating a bunch of bogus records) that can take years to fix.

As Ajay Agarwal of Bain Capital wrote, “The power of systems of record is that they are the ultimate source and therefore ‘record’ of critical business data. Your general ledger is stored in Quickbooks or Oracle Financials. Your pipeline data is in Salesforce. And your compensation and payroll information is in Workday.”

Business Intelligence (BI) tools need to ingest data from your CRM, your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tools, and your Human Capital Management (HCM) tools to be able to run cross-enterprise analyses and diagnostics. Typically, enterprises will store information from these different systems in a data warehouse in order to support that analysis.


For enterprise-wide reporting systems to work correctly, two things must be true:

  1. The systems of record must be connected to your data warehouse and often, to each other, or else you will end up storing duplicate records of the same information in different places.
  2. The systems of record must be correct (if your CRM database is out-of-date, then your enterprise-wide analyses will be wrong).

There has been an explosion of vertically-specific systems of record in the past couple of decades as Software-as-a-Service has affected the way software is distributed. For example:


As more of these vertically-specific systems of record emerge, there is an even greater one on the enterprise to connect these data sources intelligently.

When a data system is dependent on an upstream data source (one of these core systems of record), the downstream system will either link to or reference the source of its information. This helps an end user rely upon the information or trace it back to its roots. For the whole system to be reliable, each of the underlying systems of record need to be correct.

CRM Must be Correct

As a critical system of record that informs other secondary systems, your CRM is the essential repository representing the sales organization to the rest of the enterprise.

If the data in your CRM is incorrect, then not only is your CRM software unreliable, the rest of the enterprise is uninformed too.

I’m here to argue that the core vertebrae of your CRM is your “Account” database and if you’re like most companies, your CRM Account data is a mess.