CRM Success – Fake News?

CRM Success - Fake News? | Commence CRM Blog

CRM software providers are trying hard to earn your business and want to convince you that their CRM software will help you close deals faster, improve close ratios and guarantee customer retention, but sometimes the marketing pitches can go a bit too far and as our new president would say: It’s fake news.  To illustrate this below are three testimonials I grabbed from three CRM company websites.

“We are now selling faster, easier, and with more relevance. We close deals twice as fast as before.”

“Sales improved by 32% in the first 90 days. “

“Our CRM has given us a 99% Customer Retention Rate.”

As one of the leading providers of CRM software for small to mid-size businesses, I can tell you unequivocally that these statements are simply not true. In fact, CRM software has nothing to do with closing deals twice as fast as before. If sales have improved by 33% in 90 days it’s probably due to a sales promotion or an event; and if you have retained 99% of your customers it’s because you have a quality product and provide great service. It’s not because of your CRM system.

You see CRM is just a tool that requires management’s commitment and quality people to ensure any level of success.  In fact, I believe CRM has become a commodity today and the more popular solutions like Salesforce.com, Microsoft CRM, and Commence CRM all provide similar functionality at similar price points so it really does not matter which one you select.  What does matter is what complementary services these companies can offer to ensure the successful implementation and use of their products.  This is an area where Commence CRM really shines.

While some firms, Microsoft CRM for example, use third parties to sell, implement and support their product, Commence CRM is a one stop shopping provider that utilizes its own staff to implement, train and support the product. The company also provides an array of services and best practices that help customers create marketing campaigns and lead generation programs, implement a structured sales process for managing the sales cycle, and create a customer portal for providing high quality service.  These services actually play a greater role in improving marketing, sales execution and customer service than the software does.  Of course, you do need a product that offers this level of functionality and not one of the low-cost out of the box offerings that do not. But the real key here is your commitment to using the software to streamline the internal business processes that will impact the performance of your business. CRM by itself won’t make this happen.  So, forget all the hype and fake news you may read or out there and refocus your energy on the services the solution provider can provide to ensure your success.

Time to Replace That Expensive Over Bloated CRM Solution

Time to replace that expensive over bloated crm solution

Years ago, Salesforce.com ran relentless campaigns against several companies claiming that you don’t need a high priced over bloated CRM solution to manage your business. Because it was cloud-based, customers did not have to deal with hardware and software implementations, therefore, reducing the cost of the overall implementation. It worked and Salesforce became a household name. Now several years later customers have discovered just how expensive and cumbersome this product is to use and are seeking a replacement. The good news is that many more vendors have entered the sector with competitive products that are less expensive and offer comparable functionality.

One of these companies is Commence Corporation.  While not yet a household name Commence was recently listed by the Gartner Group’s Capterra evaluation team as one of the top 20 most popular products for small to mid-size businesses and Commence was included in a Forbes report of great CRMs you probably never heard of. The company has been in the CRM sector for several years and is gaining popularity for the quality of the product, coupled with friendly customer service – something Salesforce.com is not known for.

Commence CRM is targeted at companies that need more functionality and flexibility than that offered by lower cost CRM solutions, but not the high cost and cumbersome nature of enterprise level solutions. In addition to contact and account management, sales and lead management, Commence CRM offer a marketing application, a customer service or help desk solution, a document library, a web-based customer portal, and a fully integrated project management application.  The product is modular in design so customers can select only the applications they require for their business. Full integration is provided with MS Outlook and mobile is included with each product edition. Simply stated, Commence CRM is a comprehensive solution at an attractive price.

If you are looking for a feature-rich CRM solution that is affordable, easy to use and offers best in class customer service take a look at Commence CRM.  For more information visit www.commence.com or call Commence Sales at 877-COMMENCE.

Commence CRM a Solid Alternative to Salesforce

The Honeymoon is Over

You wanted a robust CRM solution for your business and like many others bought into the hype and fanfare of Salesforce.com.  No one can blame you.  The industry analysts, review sites, and pay-to-play listing services all touted Salesforce.com as the number one solution for Customer Relationship Management.  So, you selected them and paid a small fortune for use of the product and for their customer service. Now one year later it’s renewal time and you are a bit dismayed because you have learned that your staff is not in love with the product and have found it cumbersome and difficult to use. In addition, you have discovered that they are only using a fraction of the functionality you paid a premium to get one year earlier. Now what?  You certainly did not plan to have to change CRM systems after one year, but you are struggling to once again pay an exceptionally high price to renew a service that your staff does not like and is not fully utilizing.

Well here is some good news.  You don’t have to. There are several very good CRM solutions for small to mid-size businesses that are rich in functionality, easier to use and much more affordable than Salesforce.com.

One of these products is Commence CRM, recently listed as a Top 20 Most Popular by the Gartner Group’s Capterra review site.  Commence CRM is targeted at companies that need more functionality and flexibility than the basic, low cost, one-size-fits-all solutions can provide without the cost and complexity of solutions like Salesforce.com.  It’s a comprehensive offering that includes the traditional contact management and sales functionality you find in most CRMs, and additionally provides Marketing Campaign Management, Help Desk Ticketing with a Customer Portal, and a fully integrated Project Management application. This additional functionality differentiates Commence CRM from other offerings, and makes it an attractive alternative to Salesforce.com for companies that may require this level of functionality.

If you have Salesforce.com and are considering a change due to poor utilization and the high cost of renewal, Commence CRM would be a solid alternative.  To learn more visit commence.com.

Commence CRM Automation for Nurturing Leads

If you are a sales representative you know that sales can be a tough and frustrating profession.  At times, you are nothing more than a pin on the map to the sales manager, a quota to the company, and an item called “cost of sales” to the finance department.  You call prospects every day, send out mailers and e-mails, and network on social sites to get new leads only to discover that as many as 50% of them are not ready to buy.  Sounds a bit depressing, doesn’t it? But that’s sales. Experienced sales people have learned to focus their energy on the qualified leads who are ready to buy and are taking advantage of next generation CRM software to nurture those prospects who are not.

One CRM product that does this very well is Commence CRM.  Commence offers a lead qualification feature that allows you to categorize leads based on specific criteria such as hot (highly qualified), warm (not purchasing for 3-5 months), or cold (no specific time frame for purchase.)  The system automatically color codes the leads so that you can immediately determine which category they belong to.

Lead Management

The drip marketing feature allows you to automate how you want to nurture the leads. Here is an example.  Warm leads will receive a direct mail or e-mail every 30 days highlighting your products, a case study in that industry, an invitation to a conference, or a call to action.  The program is set up and completely automated with future time frames for each action to be taken and triggered after the number of days has elapsed.   Cold leads for example may only get contacted every quarter after the initial introduction.

Drip Marketing Schedule

The objective here is to enable the CRM system to nurture these warm and cold leads while the sales team is laser focused on the most promising new opportunities. It’s an easy, efficient and effective tool that can be used by a marketing professional or the sales representatives themselves.  With Commence CRM, every lead is looked at as a potential opportunity throughout the year.  Just because they are not ready to purchase today doesn’t mean they will not purchase tomorrow. Keep your product, your service, and your company in front of them to strengthen your brand, ensuring they contact you when they are ready to buy. Commence CRM can make this happen for your business.  To learn more, see commence.com.

Use Price to Differentiate CRM Solutions

CRM Buyers Guide: What to Expect from Free and Low-Cost CRM

CRM software is considered a commodity market today, especially for very small businesses that have basic requirements such as a need to manage contacts, activities, notes and e-mail history.  Most of the companies that serve this sector now offer their products for free because it’s simply too costly to market, sell, and provide service to customers for a few dollars per user per month.  They use their CRM solution as a loss leader because they often have other products and services to sell you; and now that you’re a customer they have your company name, contacts, phone and e-mail addresses. So, expect to hear from them as part of their free offering.

If one of these basic cookie-cutter solutions meets your business requirements that’s great, but if you’re thinking that ‘all CRM solutions are the same… why pay for one?’ you’re dead wrong. Many people differentiate CRM solutions by price alone. It’s not a bad approach because price does in fact differentiate the basic low-cost or freemium solutions from those that cost more. The key is identifying what you may or may not be getting for the price you are willing to pay. Here are just a few things to consider before making your decision.

Free and low-cost CRM solutions come with limitations

Traditionally there are limitations on the number of accounts and contacts you can have, number of reports you can generate, number of custom fields you can add, number of e-mails you can send, and no group calendaring. More importantly there is often no online data security, no permissions (so all data is visible to all users), little to no customization, no system integration, and no phone support.   If you do not want these limitations – expect to pay about $30 dollars per user per month for a good solution.

Data Hosting Service

If you are concerned about the storage and protection of your online data (and you should be), it is important to note that the top tier data storage companies like Amazon Web Services, Rackspace, and others are not free which simply means the following. If you select a free or low-cost CRM solution you are not getting the high level of data security and protection service that is provided by higher cost CRM solution providers. If you are OK with this, it is still important to ask the vendor where your data is being stored and how you can get to it if needed.

Security Permissions

There are times when you need to ensure that certain data is only viewed by specific internal resources. Perhaps you want to make sure a sales representative in San Francisco cannot see the leads or accounts being worked on by a representative in New York. Or maybe there is a major account in the system only accessible by the management team. This is simply not possible with low end or freemium products.

System Integration

If you need to integrate your CRM solution with a third-party software program chances are this is just not offered by low end or freemium solutions. This feature is in the higher cost products.

Customer Service

Let’s be real here. If you select a free or low-cost CRM solution, you have no right to expect that you can get on the telephone with a company representative and get free advice and counsel. The best you can hope for is the ability to send an e-mail and hope someone responds, or that you can get your questions answered via the company’s web site.  Higher cost products traditionally provide telephone support and have a named account manager assigned to your company.

There are, of course, other things to consider when selecting a CRM solution. My objective here is to ensure buyers fully understand that all CRM systems are not alike and that there are limitations associated with low-cost or freemium solutions.

About the Author

Larry Caretsky represents Commence Corporation a provider of CRM solutions for small to mid-size businesses. Commence CRM is rated as a Top 20 Most Popular CRM solution by the Gartner Group’s Capterra review site.  Commence CRM offers a robust set of applications for sales, marketing, customer service, and project management. The product is affordable and easy to use making it a popular alternative to higher cost programs like Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce.com.