The CRM software sector is highly competitive with dozens of automated systems to choose from. There are desktop solutions, hosted and cloud based systems that can be deployed in just a few minutes. Prices are all over the map ranging from free to more than $200 per user per month and in some cases just don’t make sense. It’s a confusing sector that has left many companies on the fence with regard to which CRM system to choose and here’s why.
The Functional Gap
CRM systems seem to come in two flavors. First, low cost solutions that offer basic functionality. There are dozens of these and they are almost like having a contact manager on the web. You can manage accounts, contacts, add notes and a sales forecast. But these products provide little in the way of additional departmental functionality, customization, analytical reporting or integration with third party programs. They are typically differentiated solely on price because they are considered commodity products. There is nothing wrong with this as long as you have your expectations in line with what you are going to get and that you realize you may quickly outgrow the functionality offered.
The next level of CRM is offered by mainstream players that service the enterprise market. Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Salesforce.com and Oracle are household names in this sector. These products are designed to address enterprise business requirements and are complex and costly. What if I need more than a basic CRM solution, but not the cost and complexity of an enterprise system? I call this the functional gap. Both Microsoft and Salesforce.com have aggressively gone after this mid-market by stripping out functionality and creating low cost editions of their product, but this has not addressed the complexity issue. It’s almost like removing equipment off of an aircraft carrier. After you remove it you still have an aircraft carrier which requires a lot of money and people to operate. I think you can see where I am going here.
There’s a real gap for middle market companies that need more than the basic functionality offered by low end products, but not the cost and complexity of enterprise level systems.
Commence CRM Fills the Gap
One of the companies that has bridged this gap is Commence Corporation. Commence is not as well-known as the mainstream players, but has actually been providing customer management software to small to mid-size enterprises for two decades and has an impressive track record and customer base. Commence picks up where basic CRM solutions leave off and in many instances offers functionality only available in enterprise level solutions.
The first area that differentiates Commence CRM is customization. While low end solutions offer little to no customizability, with Commence CRM customers can create custom dashboards, custom views, custom searches, add custom fields, generate custom reports, and even create custom business processes. Commence CRM is also a comprehensive offering. The application suite offers the standard account and contact management, activity management, lead and sales management you’ll find in other solutions, but also a project management system, a document library and help desk ticketing system you won’t find in similarly priced products. If you need a graphical snapshot of your business or links to social media sites like LinkedIn you’ll find it in Commence CRM. Commence also includes the same analytical reporting you will find in enterprise offerings and has seamless integration with all popular e-mail clients. Mobile access via tablets and handheld devices is also available. Commence CRM is very popular with Apple Mac users because it requires no plug-ins or add-on components to use. With this level of functionality at half the price of enterprise CRM solutions, Commence CRM is well positioned to address the needs of mid-size companies.
While it’s quite clear that there is a functional gap in the CRM sector for small to mid-size enterprises there is also a service gap which is highlighted below.
The Service Gap
Companies that have selected a free or low cost CRM solution are well aware that there is no service component to these offerings. In fact, in many cases there is not even a telephone number to call. This is because the products offer very basic functionality. There is no service requirement because without the ability to customize the solution or generate ad hoc reports, you can’t get into too much trouble. But there is usually is an e-mail listed if you have an inquiry.
With enterprise level offerings the service requirement can be extensive and costly. Service agreements are often mandatory with annual fees ranging from 20 to 30 percent of the annual software cost. While this is acceptable among enterprise level organizations, mid-size companies prefer a combination of self service programs complemented by paid support if necessary. Commence CRM provides just that. Online help, a knowledgebase and free training videos are available from the company’s website and live technical support can be purchased on an hourly basis when required. This meets the support requirements of the SME sector, filling the gap that exists today between low end solutions and enterprise CRM systems. For additional information about Commence CRM, visit the company’s website at www.commence.com and ask for a free trial.
Image by blauente on Flickr under Creative Commons license.
Who says a smaller less known CRM software provider can’t mix it up with the big boys? While industry leaders Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce.com fight for market share in Europe they now have to contend with Commence Corporation, a company that has been gaining ground in the small to mid-size business sector.
Commence is no stranger to the CRM software industry and has been developing and marketing customer management software for small and mid-size businesses for more than two decades. Commence is well regarded in the United States for the development of high quality business software that is not only flexible but easy to use. The company has had prior business partnerships with IBM, Compaq Computer and AT&T all of whom had resold Commence products under private label agreements.
“We come from the small to mid-size business sector,” says Larry Caretsky, President of Commence Corporation “and we understand their requirements and the type of services they require. Our competitors cut their teeth in the enterprise sector with robust offerings and complex functionality that is required for large multi-national organizations. When this sector became saturated they removed functionality and reduced their cost to sell into this market space, but here’s the problem with that: these products are still complex and hard to use and reducing the price does not change this. Customers that select these products end up with dozens of features that they never use. This is one of the reasons so many smaller businesses fail with these products.”
“Commence is a pure play CRM solution provider. It’s all we do,” says Caretsky “so it should not be too difficult for people to appreciate why despite not being as well-known as Microsoft or Salesforce.com we may in fact be a better solution for small to mid-size companies. We certainly have a twenty year track record that supports this and a large customer base that agrees.”
For more information about Commence’s cloud based CRM software visit the company’s website.
Image courtesy of bplanet / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Commence Corporation is pleased to announce its selection as a Top 16 CRM solution provider in the Capterra CRM Madness vendor tournament. Commence will now challenge Salesforce.com for a position as an Elite Eight CRM system.
Winning both round one and two supports the fact that Commence customers have had a strong voice in favor of the company’s product and the quality of service they have received.
We would like to thank our customers for their support!
If you have been following Capterra’s CRM Madness online tournament you know that thanks to your support Commence CRM has moved into round two of the CRM vendor challenge. While this is exciting we need to call on you one more time so others can learn about the value they can realize from Commence CRM. Please take a moment to vote for Commence at http://crmmadness.capterra.com/. If we win this round we will challenge Salesforce.com CRM.
Commence is pleased to have been selected as the winner of round one of the Capterra’s CRM Madness Vendor challenge. Commence was selected over Zoho CRM, which offers a low cost solution to small businesses.
Small to Mid-size enterprises typically need more than basic contact management software to operate and grow their business. While programs like Zoho CRM offer a basic set of features at a low cost, customers often find that they quickly outgrow the capabilities of lower end CRM software programs.
Commence CRM, while targeted at small to mid-size enterprises won the challenge due to the products robust set of features for managing leads, sales, marketing and customer service. Commence is a comprehensive online CRM system with the functionality and scalability to ensure growth for its customers.
We appreciate your support and keep voting for Commence CRM in the next round!
Companies that are considering the implementation of Customer Relationship Management software often use search engines like Google or Bing to learn about CRM systems and the recommended solution providers. CRM vendors are well aware of this and as a result, companies like Microsoft, Salesforce.com CRM and others are spending millions of dollars to get listed in the top positions:
The techniques for marketing and building brand awareness have changed radically in the past decade and the Internet has become one of the most powerful vehicles for introducing new products and services. The problem with the Internet is that it is becoming more and more like television where people seem to believe that anything they see or read about is true. Most people are aware of how Internet search engines work: The companies that are listed in the top three positions have simply paid more than the others, but the consumer does not seem to care. They assume that if you are listed in the top position then you must be the best at what you do.
Customer Relationship Management software is a good example of this. Companies like Microsoft and Salesforce.com are willing to out-bid everyone to hold the top positions, but does this mean they are the best solutions for your business? What’s interesting about the CRM software sector is that industry experts have indicated that as many as 70% of all CRM systems fail to get implemented or fully utilized. If this is true, does this mean that the top rated CRM or leading CRM providers have a 70% failure rate? I can’t say, but it does make one question whether selecting a CRM solution that is top rated on the Google search engine means you have selected the best CRM solution for your business, doesn’t it?
The Formula for CRM Success
The good news for the consumer is that there are a number of very good CRM software programs available from companies that are not listed in the top three search engine positions. One of these companies is Commence Corporation. Commence has been providing CRM software solutions to mid size companies and small enterprises for more than two decades. While the company is not listed in the top three spots, Commence offers perhaps a more compelling statistic: positive customer testimonials and one of the highest success rates for implementation and use of their CRM software.
One of the reasons for this success is that Commence doesn’t just sell CRM software. The company combines the CRM software with a proven implementation plan and a set of CRM “best practices” for sales execution and sales optimization. The implementation plan outlines the company’s responsibilities and those of the customer along with a timeline to ensure the project remains on track. These CRM best practices have been designed by a team of highly trained sales professionals that help companies create and implement a proven sales methodology resulting in better sales execution while ensuring timely and accurate reporting.
Over the past two decades, Commence Corporation has established a proven track record for helping companies to become a more efficient sales and service organization. Many of these companies have remained customers for as long as the company has been in business. This certainly illustrates that the Commence CRM software complemented by its CRM best practices have provided a winning formula for its customers. Unfortunately, you won’t find this listed on the Google search engine.
Learn more about the Commence CRM product and best practices at www.commence.com or consult with our CRM experts at 1-877- 266-6362.
Commence CRM Customers
Commence Corporation is a leading provider of Customer Relationship Management solutions. The company’s products are designed to provide small to mid-size businesses with flexible solutions that leverage the Web to offer an integrated platform for managing sales execution and customer service. Commence supports several thousand customers through a world-wide distribution network, with outlets in North and South America, Europe and Asia/Pacific.
The Commence CRM client roster is impressive and includes ABC television, Alcatel, American Express, Bank One, Bank of America, BP, Brinks, Century 21, EDS, Exactech, Ford, General Electric, Handyman Connection, IBM, Merrill Lynch, PNCBank, Northrop Grumman, NYPD, New York Post, Princess Cruises, Raytheon, Shell, Siemens, Sprint, Steelcase, St. Luke’s Hospital, TDK, Tele Atlas, and Unicef are just some of the marquis clients. The company has embraced the small business CRM market as well.
Mid-market CRM Competition
TR Cutler, a leading business journalist, recently interviewed Larry Caretsky, CEO of Commence Corporation, to learn more about the company is competing with the large players in the CRM space such as Salesforce.com. Cutler asked Caretsky, “How does a company like Commence compete against the Goliath of Salesforce.com and other CRM giants that are publicly traded and well-financed?” Caretsky answered, “Well in this “pay to play industry” it is hard to rise above the noise of Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Saleforce.com. The way Commence succeeds is to simply be better at one or two aspects of the business then the big guys. Commence has been very clear in differentiation and continues to quietly and consistently earn new customers and build solid references. The single most significant CRM differentiator Commence possessed versus the big CRM giants is our business model. Saleforce.com’s objective, for example, is to sell their solution to as many companies as possible regardless of size or industry. The only way to do this is to develop a generic set of CRM features that supports the general business requirements of companies across all industries. This one size fits all approach does not work in all industry sectors. Salesforce.com has recognized this short-coming and created an add-on development tool that allows for the customization of their CRM solution. The problem is that the SMB space has no interest in doing custom development, nor has the infrastructure to support it.”
Commence CRM, unlike Salesforce CRM, is developing specific vertical industry solutions that are already tailored to the unique business requirements of the customers in each particular sector. The result…customers can achieve a rapid return on their investment (ROI) without costly development work. Commence currently has a tailored solution for manufacturers and distributors and a construction vertical CRM is in development.
Commence Corporation has posted the entire interview at: http://www.commence.com/blog/index.php/2009/10/13/commence-crm-a-david-and-goliath-story/. Commence is offering a small to midsize business site license program that will enable customers to add users at no additional cost. Site licenses start at a five user level and require an annual contract.