Why your CRM shouldn't compete with your data warehouse

Your CRM and your data warehouse serve separate purposes. Here's a way to ensure alignment across both, and better collaboration between data teams and Rev Ops teams.

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Why your CRM shouldn't compete with your data warehouse

What’s your company’s single source of truth? Depending on who you ask, you might hear answers like Salesforce, Zendesk, or HubSpot — the company’s CRM. After all, it’s the place where all prospect and customer interactions are logged and recorded in real-time. If you’re on the Sales, Customer Success, Business Development teams, your CRM system is your holy grail.

Most likely, you have a Business Operations or Revenue Operations person on the team who is the unanimous expert of your particular CRM, with the ability to quickly create dashboards and reports for each member of the revenue team within the CRM. In this way, they’re viewed as a business “data analyst”, however, they’re limited to the reporting and charting functionalities of the CRM only, and can only leverage the data that’s within the CRM. Plus, they probably don't have a background in the technicalities of data.

While CRMs are a great way to keep track of customer information, interactions, and deals, the issue with relying on your CRM as your entire company’s source of truth is that it’s difficult to answer questions and perform analyses that inform overall business direction. You won’t be able to combine data from different sources, or run queries on more complex questions — without a proper data warehouse.

The truth is, a CRM is not a data warehouse. While it’s powerful and contains an immense amount of customer and prospect information, it’s simply one data source that your company has, in an ecosystem of likely many more sources across different functions, like marketing and finance. Salesforce, for example, was designed for transactions. It wasn’t built to be a centralized data repository for performing analysis. It generally has some dashboarding and reporting functionalities if you’re leveraging solely the CRM’s data, but it’s not enough to replace a data warehouse — a central system in which data across your entire organization lives.

Data warehouses, on the other hand, are structured for complex analyses, with the ability to organize data from multiple different sources. One is not better than the other -- they’re inherently different tools that serve different purposes, and there’s a way for them to effectively work together. Companies should have both!

Once companies have come to this realization and have implemented a data warehouse alongside their CRM, they generally have a data team in place to manage the data warehouse and the analytics platform. So, you'll have a Revenue Operations person managing the CRM, and a Data leader in charge of the Data warehouse.

The question then becomes — how do you reconcile both tools, and both teams?

The Challenge

  • The Revenue Operations person, who’s a CRM expert and close to the revenue teams, may feel like the data teams are lacking business context, and they don’t know the ins and outs of the CRM. Their Salesforce reports are enough for the revenue teams, since all the deal information is in there anyway.
  • The Data teams are able to model out more complicated queries that involve both the marketing stack and the CRM, for example - presenting valuable information that would benefit the business teams. They may feel like business users aren’t adopting the analyses that they perform in the BI platform - since they tend to work exclusively with their Rev Ops lead and their CRM. They want to boost adoption and generate more engagement around their analytics. They believe the CRM is a valuable data source, but it’s not inclusive of other sources. Plus, the CRM is not "their territory" and they have less direct contact with the business teams.

The Solution

How do Rev Ops and Data teams work better together, and collaborate so that everyone wins? Thankfully, we have an answer - choose a BI platform that has embedding features.

  1. For example, Whaly’s BI platform easily replicates data from your company’s data warehouse, and can help you build analyses and dashboards from multiple data sources. It’s the answer to performing BI at a higher level than what CRMs can offer, with multiple sources so that it’s comprehensive and can steer the overall business in the right direction.
  2. Once you’ve built your visualizations and dashboards within Whaly, you can easily embed them into your Salesforce CRM, allowing people to view and consume them from there. This way, revenue teams can consume data from the BI platform, directly within the platform they’re used to working in (CRM).

How does this reduce the friction?

  • Data teams are happy because data is controlled and well-governed, and their analyses are consumed and valued. The data teams can always go into the BI platform to investigate any issues and support the sales teams.
  • The Revenue Operations lead can be empowered by the data teams to actually work within the BI platform to model data against each other, run queries, and answer questions that would be relevant for business teams. Whaly offers a visual option in our modeling layer, for which technical expertise is not required.
  • Sales and business teams are happy because their Operations lead can model data and can embed the analytics directly into Salesforce, as a way to reduce friction and boost adoption. The Revenue Operations lead can now share analytics that includes relevant data beyond their CRM.
  • The data warehouse & BI platform are fully auditable by data experts and champions. Oppositely, the CRM reports are blackboxed to the system.

In summary, the CRM is a powerful tool for transactions, however, it wasn’t designed to be a “single source of truth” in the same sense as a data repository. It represents one data source in an entire organization’s ecosystem of data sources, which should all be considered and analyzed to drive revenue and business growth.

The data warehouse should be the source of truth, since it collects organized data from all parts of the business. However, it shouldn’t be seen as a “competing” technology, as they serve different purposes.

BI tools like Whaly allow data from the data warehouse (which includes data from multiple sources, including CRM) to be easily loaded. They offer robust modeling & visualization capabilities, with dashboards that can be embedded into the CRM for consumption. Whaly can be leveraged to help:

  • Business teams make better, data-driven decisions
  • Boost adoption of the analytics, by embedding it in the tool that business teams are used to working in (CRM).
  • Enable better collaboration between data teams and revenue operations teams

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