Most CRM Software offerings are designed for a specific market segments and fall into one of three categories; Small Business CRM, Midsize CRM and Enterprise CRM. This paper highlights several areas that differentiate the market segments and where Commence CRM fits in the industry. The differences traditionally lie in the following areas.
Scope of Functionality
Enterprise CRM solutions offer a comprehensive suite of applications that automate sales, marketing and customer service functions. Small business solutions are typically designed to address account and contact management with some offering basic sales functionality.
Commence CRM fits squarely between the two and offers functionality that rivals many enterprise level solutions at an affordable cost. In addition to offering applications for lead management, sales management and marketing, Commence CRM also provides a fully integrated project management and help desk or customer service application with a knowledgebase and FAQ section.
Enterprise CRM systems are built on complex architectures that are designed to support several hundred to a few thousand users while Small Business solutions are best served for home based or small businesses of 2 to 20 people. Commence CRM uses a robust Java based architecture that has been proven to provide outstanding performance to companies of 20 to 200 plus users.
Enterprise CRM solutions are highly customizable, but traditionally require professional engineers for major changes. Commence CRM offers a high degree of end user customization allowing you to customize dashboards, and views, create saved searches, build drop down selection boxes, add custom fields and run custom reports. Small Business CRM offers limited to no customization.
Cloud Hosting Service
One the key areas often overlooked by consumers, particularity smaller businesses, is the quality of the cloud data hosting services provided by the CRM vendor. Enterprise CRM solution providers offer best in class cloud hosting services from organizations like Rackspace or the Amazon cloud. Commence CRM has a strategic alliance with Rackspace for cloud hosting services. Small Business CRM providers due to their low cost traditionally use second or third tier cloud hosting services.
Customer Support Services
CRM solutions require a serious investment in time and resources in order to improve how you market, sell and provide service to your customers and get a high return on your investment. Companies that serve the enterprise market offer an array of services for implementation, training and customization of their products. Commence CRM realizes that many smaller organizations may require assistance in several areas, and has created an “Onboarding program” to ensure that every customer gets the assistance they need to realize the maximum value from the solution. Small Business CRM vendors traditionally offer only self-service and e-mail support. This is because the limited functionality provided by these products require little more.
The selection of CRM software does not have to be as difficult as it appears. If you require more than basic account and contact management functionality, desire some scalability to support future growth, have unique business requirements that require customization, want to have your data protected by a world class cloud hosting service and expect a level of service that ensures you realize a rapid return on your investment, you need Commence CRM. Visit us at www.commence.com and talk with one of our experts or ask for a free trial.
Customer Relationship Management is all about maximizing the long term business relationship with your customers. In order to do this you need to ensure that you become efficient with how you market, sell and provide service to your customers. The problem here is that this is a significant challenge for most small to mid-size businesses, who often do not have the resources or experience to become a more efficient sales and service organization. Those who foolishly believe that a good CRM system will address this requirement have found out the hard way that it won’t and are now frustrated that a year has gone by with little to no change.
The fact is that online CRM software programs have proven to be an excellent tool for facilitating change and helping you to improve sales execution and customer service, but like an automobile that’s driven by a human being, CRM software doesn’t work by itself. It’s driven by experienced people who understand business workflow, sales process management and can manage change. Well what if you don’t have these people? Does this mean you can’t become more efficient or improve your internal business processes? Of course not and in fact the availability of experienced resources is one of the key components that is now differentiating one CRM software provider from another.
Commence Corporation for example has been providing customer management software to small and mid-size businesses for more than two decades and while in the past businesses selected Commence CRM for its powerful feature set and flexibility, today it’s an array of professional services that’s making the difference.
“We’ve got a top rated CRM solution” says Larry Caretsky, President of Commence Corporation, “but it’s the value added services that we provide that is making the difference for our customers and for our business. We have a staff of sales, marketing and customer service personnel that average 20 years in the business who are filling the resource gap and providing substantial value to small and mid-size businesses at an extremely affordable cost. This team has helped companies establish business practices for managing the sales cycle, created target marketing campaigns, improved lead generation and lead qualification and implemented an automated ticket management system for improved customer service. No other CRM software provider can offer this level of service to the SMB community” says Caretsky, “and it is the difference between a failed CRM implementation and providing a return on investment for our customers.”
Image “UX Help” by Betsy Weber on Flickr under Creative Commons license.
While some CRM solution providers try to be all things to all people most of the popular CRM programs are designed and targeted at a specific market segment. I have labeled these by Tier. See below:
Tier 1 – Enterprise Level CRM Providers
While targeted primarily at the Fortune 1000 companies, CRM software providers in this category traditionally have a few things in common.
- They offer comprehensive functionality covering all aspects of front office business operations for account management, sales, leads, marketing and customer service
- They have a highly scalable platforms that support several thousand users
- They support multiple languages and multi-currency
- They offer application programming interfaces or API’s that enable disparate system integration
- They offer best in class hosting or cloud computing services
- They offer a High level of customizability and good customer support
- There are many third party packages that may be integrated with these CRM programs.
Companies in this category include Oracle, SAP, Microsoft and Salesforce.com
Tier 2 – Mid-Market CRM Providers
Mid-market CRM providers offer good functionality that often rivals that of enterprise level systems, but typically do not support multi-language or muti-currency although some do. The top rated Tier 2 providers offer the following:
- Good functionality with strong focus on account and contact management, e-mail integration, sales and lead management . Some offer customer support or help desk and project management as well.
- Robust scalable platforms that support hundreds of users vs. thousands like enterprise level programs. Very good customer support
- May support multi-currencies, but typically not multiple languages
- Several offer the best in class hosting or cloud computing services, same as the enterprise players
- Fairly customizable with minimal programmer intervention in most solutions
- Some third party package integrations are available
The most popular companies in this category include: Commence CRM, Microsoft CRM, Sage – (mostly in Europe), Salesforce.com and SugarCRM
Tier 3 – Small Business CRM Providers
If basic contact management, e-mail and a sales forecast is all you require, there are several good inexpensive small business CRM solutions to choose from. Don’t expect however to get advanced level functionality such as security permissions, robust reporting, or automated workflow. Customization is often limited to adding a few custom fields if at all. Most small business CRM solutions offer:
- Weak functionality as compared to mid-tier CRM offerings
- Non scalable platforms that will not perform well with large data sets or larger number of users
- Customer support limited primarily to e-mail
- Rare support for multi-currencies or multiple languages
- Second or third tier hosting or cloud based services
- Minimal customization if any
Companies targeting this sector include: Zoho, Highrise & Avidian.