The Eight Building Blocks of Small Business CRM

In this article, we’ll unpack the “Eight Building Blocks of CRM,” a framework devised by Gartner, which pinpoints the essential areas businesses should focus on for successful customer relationship management. We’ll delve into how these building blocks apply to both large enterprises and small-to-midsize businesses (SMBs), and why understanding these components is pivotal for CRM success, regardless of business size.

Key Takeaways:

  • The “Eight Building Blocks of CRM” are a comprehensive guide to understanding and implementing effective customer relationship management strategies.
  • While the building blocks were initially designed for larger businesses, they offer valuable insights for SMBs, albeit with some variations in implementation.
  • Core building blocks like “Vision,” “Strategy,” and “Customer Experience” are universally crucial, while others like “Technology” and “Metrics” may vary in applicability based on business size and resources.
  • Real Estate agencies, among other sales-driven industries, can greatly benefit from adhering to these building blocks due to their reliance on robust CRM systems.
  • While some building blocks might seem more tailored to larger enterprises, SMBs can still extract valuable lessons and strategies from each block to enhance their CRM practices.

Recently Andrew Friedenthal, CRM Analyst for the online technology consultancy Software Advice, released a new report which studied the eight building blocks of CRM. We had the opportunity to talk with Mr. Friedenthal to learn a little more about what his research uncovered.

What are the Eight Building Blocks, anyway? 

“The Eight Building Blocks of CRM” is a framework, devised by Gartner, of the most important areas that businesses need to focus on in order to implement and maintain successful customer relationship management (CRM). As Gartner explains, their analysts “noticed that the most successful organizations had a clear view of what they were doing in each of the eight areas, whereas the less successful had only a partial overview of what they were doing.” Thus, successful CRM relies on understanding these eight building blocks.

How do these building blocks apply differently to enterprise-level organizations and small-to-midsized businesses (SMBs)? 

Gartner’s series of reports on the Eight Building Blocks focuses on the large, enterprise-level businesses that make up their clientele. For our article at Software Advice, we wanted to make the building blocks useful and approachable to our audience of SMBs, many of whom have low tech literacy and little to no IT resources. For enterprise-level companies, as the building blocks grow more granular and based on data and technology, the resources required to meet the expectations of that building block may not be available to SMBs. In addition, the specific challenges faced by the businesses will vary based on size and scope. However, the larger, broad-scale advice of each building block will apply across all businesses, even if the implementation of Gartner’s advice will differ drastically.

Is any one of the building blocks more crucial than others for SMBs? 

“Vision,” “strategy” and “customer experience” are going to be universal aspects of CRM across companies of all sizes.

The first two are necessary to implement a CRM plan in the first place, while the latter is what you will need to focus on in order to make your CRM successful. The way each of these is handled may differ based on size, but they apply equally to SMBs as to larger businesses.

CRM Building Blocks

A version of this image originally appeared in: “The Eight Building Blocks of CRM: Overview,” by Ed Thompson, (content available to Gartner clients)

Do any of the building blocks not apply to SMBs? 

Because the final two building blocks, “technology” and “metrics,” rely upon resources that may not be available to many SMBs, they are probably the least applicable when it comes to implementing the Eight Building blocks for smaller businesses. However, the larger, high-level ideas behind both building blocks—”choose the right CRM vendor” and “use data to drive change,” respectively—are still highly applicable.

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What industries/markets will find the Eight Building Blocks the most useful? 

Real Estate agencies are incredibly reliant upon a solid, successful CRM system because their entire business model necessitates keeping track of customers/prospects and nurturing their customer experience throughout the sales pipeline with individual attention.

Following the eight building blocks will thus be crucial for these agencies, even smaller ones that might only have one agent. The same is true of any sales-based company that relies upon good, ongoing relationships with customers and clients.

Though devised as a tool for larger businesses, the Eight Building Blocks of CRM have a lot to offer SMBs. Some of the building blocks are universal, some will differ in their implementation based on the size of a business, and some of them only apply to SMBs on a broader conceptual level, but they all have something to teach smaller businesses that can help them reach the heights of the enterprise organizations whose CRM models the Eight Building Blocks were based on.


Abe Dearmer

Abe has a vast experience running multiple SaaS companies and is an expert on all things Sales, Marketing and SEO.

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