Top 20 CRM Software

Commence CRM has been named one of the Top 20 CRM Software solutions by Capterra.com. Providers were ranked by popularity using a combination of their total number of customers, users, and social presence. We believe that our ranking would be higher based on new functionality added to the product since this review. We are however pleased that our firm has been recognized for the high quality product and service we provide.

Click the infographic below to see the full review.

top20crm

Infographic courtesy of Capterra.com

Has the CRM Software Industry Gone Insane?

Looking for a CRM solution to improve how you market, sell and provide service to your customers? If you are then according to industry reports there is a good chance you will become part of the 73% percent of companies that have failed to implement the system they selected or to realize a return on their investment. The CRM industry has gone insane. Both vendors and consumers are to blame for creating an environment that has produced nothing more than frustration, failed implementations and unmet expectations.

Angry Businessman by bplanet ID-100143919

Four Traits of a Successful CRM Implementation

If you have succeeded in getting your system implemented and have improved sales execution and customer service then congratulations are in order for taking the proper steps to ensure your success. I will bet that your success is due to the following:

1. You have specific goals.

You sat down and documented specifically what business challenges you were trying to address such as; better lead qualification and automated follow-up, creating a sales process or methodology to better manage the sales cycle or implementing an automated ticketing system that captured and tracked customer inquiries and responses.

2. You have realistic expectations.

You did not look for something free to address these challenges.

3. You have delegated responsibility.

You assigned a capable individual or individuals internally and held them accountable for the success of this project.

4. You know when to ask for help.

You engaged the CRM vendor for assistance with implementation, training and customization of the system.

You created your success by realizing that CRM software is not a toy or some appliance that you plug in the wall. You understood that you have to invest not only in the software but in the value added services that will ensure the successful implementation and utilization of the product.

Seems simple enough. Why do so many fail?

Most small business, and often mid-size companies as well, have failed at this. Why? Because they typically have loosely defined requirements so there is no critical business challenge that must be addressed.

Businessman Choice by jumpe ID-100185424

As such, there is no reason to engage management in the selection decision. They will let one or two people look at a few solutions and make their decision primarily on price, who appears to have more features or the prettiest user interface. And if you require additional cost for implementation or training then you are not the right solution for us. Sheer insanity and the reason for a 73% percent failure rate.

CRM vendors that offer low cost programs have figured out how to get these people on board and have reacted with offerings designed to get you to sign up at the lowest cost possible. I call this the “Look at Me Syndrome.” How many times have you heard these sales pitches?

  • Hey select us we are Free
  • Hey we have No Contract
  • Hey look at us, No Commitment — only month to month.
  • Hey improve your business – operational in 30 seconds.

What they should be saying is “Hey select us and we will ensure you realize little if any value, but at least it won’t cost you much.”

What is most perplexing is that CRM may be one of the most competitive sectors of the software industry. The difference between a free to low-cost solution and a quality one (that will provide you with a good product, a telephone number to call for assistance when needed, and a return on your investment) is often just a few dollars more a month. I just don’t get it. Do you?

In order to add some sanity to the decision process, Commence Corporation has created a white paper called Don’t Make a CRM Buying Mistake7 Points to Consider before Selecting Your CRM solution. It’s a must read for businesses looking for CRM Online or cloud based CRM software. Click to view or download the full CRM Whitepaper.

Image “Angry Businessman” courtesy of bplanet / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image “Businessman Choice” courtesy of jumpe / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Have You Selected the Right Cloud Provider?

A recent report by the Gartner Group should be raising concerns for adopters of cloud computing services. The research firm predicts that 25% of the top 100 IT service providers in the infrastructure space won’t be around by 2015. The report indicates that some will be merged or acquired and some will simply go out of business. What does this means to cloud adopters?

Risk And 3d Character Showing Peril And Uncertainty by Stuart Miles ID-100142043

It means you need to be extra careful with whom you do business. This will certainly be a wake up call in the CRM software industry where literally dozens of smaller solution providers offer hosting services from virtually unknown cloud hosting services.

“This has been going on for some time.” says Larry Caretsky, president of Commence Corporation a leading provider of online CRM software to mid-size businesses. “I think the Gartner report will finally create a sense of concern in the industry that has fallen on deaf ears for way too long. Hosting a customer’s data is serious business and opens the door to all kinds of liability. This is the sole reason why Commence Corporation has partnered with one of the leading providers of cloud hosting services.

“What’s concerning is that many companies interested in CRM software don’t seem to care. They see cloud hosting services as a commodity and rarely ask about our services or where their data is stored.”

“What is even more perplexing” says Caretsky “is the small business sector where price is a driving factor for so many CRM product decisions. Many of the low cost or free CRM vendors offer a hosting service with no contract and no disclosure of where the customer’s data is. This should set off an alarm for these customers to be more concerned about the security of their data and not just the cost of the service.”

“It’s time for buyers to beware of the potential damage to their business that may occur if their hosting service provider closes their doors.” says Caretsky. “This is a serious concern and perhaps the Gartner report will provide the impetus for customers to pay closer attention to it.”

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Best Practice #37 – Engages in annual planning retreat

by Dave Kahle

“Ready, shoot, aim.”

Unfortunately, that’s the approach many salespeople take to task of determining how to best invest their sales time. It leads to squandered sales time, unproductive days, and results which are far less than they could be.

Make Time Clock Showing Scheduling And Planning by Stuart Miles ID-100144443The best salespeople, the top guns, take a different approach. They engage in certain planning disciplines which help them make good decisions about the investment of their sales time and help them to stay focused on the most important use of their time.

One of those key planning disciplines is the annual planning retreat. The best companies build this into their routines as a standard part of how they do sales, and the best salespeople dedicate time to this process annually.

Here’s how they do it:

1. Set aside two or three days to immerse yourself in the planning process. That means that you block off a dedicated chunk of time. You limit interruptions; don’t schedule any sales calls during this time, avoid phone calls, and don’t make commitments for things to be done other than this. Then, gather all your files and seclude yourself some place where you can focus on thinking deeply about these issues.

Businesswoman Reviewing Annual Report by stockimages ID-100202136

2. Start with a review of the previous year. On a page or two, record the major victories you enjoyed, the successes you engineered, and the lessons you learned.

3. Then, move on to creating personal goals for yourself. Think deeply about all the things you could accomplish this year, and then identify the three to five things that are most important. Describe them as specifically as possible.

4. Now, focus on your job, and create goals for the results you want. What do you want to achieve this year? How much in sales, new customers, etc? Once again, describe them as specifically as possible.

Businessman With Idea Concept by 89studio ID-10087572

5. Next, work on your customers and prospects. Methodically analyze each one for the potential this year, and rank them into A, B and C categories. Be objective and methodical. Use your files to carefully analyze each.

6. Rework your travel routines, building loops around the A customers, and limiting your time with the C’s.

7. Finally, revamp your file system — both electronic and hard copy. Throw out or delete all the old and irrelevant information. Re-organize your files so that you have useful information readily at hand. Focus on information for your customers, your products, and your internal resources.

If you methodically and objectively attend to each of these issues, you’ll find that it takes you a couple of days. That’s OK. This is time well spent.

You’ll emerge from this time energized and focused. You’ll know exactly what you want to accomplish this year and how you are going to do it. You’ll be organized, focused and eager to get at it.

That’s why this is a best practice of the best salespeople.

To drill deeper into any part of this, review these resources:

a. Chapters 3, 4, & 5 of 10 Secrets of Time Management for Salespeople

(http://www.davekahle.com/10secrets.html)

b. Chapters 3, 4, & 5 of Take Your Sales Performance Up a Notch

(http://www.davekahle.com/upnotch.html)

c. In The Sales Resource Center ® , view Pod #21, Goal-Setting; Pod #22: Time Management; and Pod #28, Strategic Planning for Sales people.

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Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales authorities. He’s written ten books, presented in 47 states and nine countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations. Sign up for his free weekly Ezine. Check out our Sales Resource Center® for 455 sales training programs for every sales person at every level.

You may contact Dave at The DaCo Corporation, PO Box 523, Comstock Park, MI 49321, or dave@davekahle.com

Image “Make Time Clock Showing Scheduling And Planning” courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image “Businesswoman Reviewing Annual Report” courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image “Businessman With Idea Concept” courtesy of 89studio / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Customer Support Differentiates CRM Software Providers

CRM is all about building and managing the business relationships with your customers and in order to be effective you have to do this before, during and after the sale. Mid-size and larger organizations realize that this will require a fairly comprehensive CRM solution that addresses four business processes; account management, sales opportunity management, marketing campaign management and customer support. They also realize that they will require professional services, training and perhaps some assistance in tailoring any CRM solution to their requirements. This makes the CRM software selection process a bit easier for these companies because there are only a few high quality solution providers that can meet these criteria. It also serves to quickly differentiate the myriad of product offerings that do not.

Customer Support Executive by stockimages ID-100109206

The customer support aspect of CRM software is the key differentiator. I am not simply referring to companies that provide good customer service, but instead those that offer a Customer Support or integrated Help Desk application for ticket management. The big differentiator here is that when you access a customer profile you not only see account and sales history, but the service history as well thereby completing the picture and enabling you to properly manage the relationship with that customer. If they have had a difficult service history for example you will want to treat them a bit differently so that you can build trust in the relationship. If you have not captured this information you have no way to know this.

More and more companies are becoming interested in the customer service aspect of CRM. If you think this may be an important part of your decision process today or in the future, you may want to take a look at CRM solution providers that offer this level of functionality.

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net