What’s Wrong with CRM Software?

Even the best technology does nothing without human intervention | Commence.com

For the most part CRM software utilization among small to mid-size companies is pretty dismal, with reports of up to a 73% failure rate. Based on this you should ask yourself what’s wrong with this technology and why would my company want to purchase and install it?

Well the real answer is that there is nothing wrong with CRM software programs and in fact most of them are pretty good.  They enable you to capture, track, manage and share information so that you can significantly impact how you market, sell and provide service to your customers. The problem is that you need to make a commitment to getting it properly implemented, getting your staff trained, and mandating its use. For many small to mid-size business this is simply too much of a challenge and is the sole reason for such a high failure rate.

Keep in mind that CRM is a technology solution that does absolutely nothing without human intervention. Here is a simple analogy. Your car is a piece of technology.  It sits on your driveway every day and does nothing until you get in it and steer it along the way. Likewise, you have to steer your CRM system if you truly want to improve business performance.  Perhaps you are just not ready to make this commitment and that’s ok. It’s better to know this upfront before you invest your time and money on a solution that never gets implemented.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to determine if you are ready for a CRM solution.

1.       Are we committed to dedicating the time required to define what we want to achieve with a CRM system?   Yes or No!

2.       Have we outlined a road map to get from where we are today to where we want to be? Yes or No!

3.       Are we committed to assigning the resources necessary to automate and streamline our internal business processes?  Yes or No!

4.       Are we committed to getting our staff properly trained and mandating the use of the system?  Yes or No!

If you are running your business using an Excel spreadsheet or an outdated contact manager you may not be prepared to make this level of commitment and that’s fine. You can hold off until you are ready or engage outside resources that can assist you with planning the implementation, creating your road map and getting your staff properly trained.  All you will need to do is mandate its use.

About the author:

Larry Caretsky is the president of Commence Corporation, a provider of CRM software for small to mid-size businesses.  Commence provides the planning, execution and training necessary to ensure that every customer realizes the maximum value from the software. Commence has been providing business software and services to the SMB community for more than two decades and is highly regarded for the quality of their products and services. Visit commence.com to learn more.

CRM Software Company Adds SEO Services for Small Businesses

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Implementing a top-rated CRM software solution like Commence CRM will provide your business with the tools you need to automate and streamline how you market, sell and provide service to your customers. But to realize the maximum value from the software you need more than a good CRM system.  You need experienced sales, marketing and service personnel to define and tailor the workflow processes and implement the online programs that will result in improved business performance.

“Small to mid-size businesses often find it difficult to hire and retain these resources” says Larry Caretsky, president of Commence Corporation.  “The biggest challenge we see is in Marketing where experienced people can be too costly for smaller businesses. We are looking to fill this gap by coupling our CRM software with experienced online marketing professionals who can assist customers with defining effective lead generation programs and executing them using the tools built into our system.  Our efforts have helped customers move away from expensive, ineffective programs (like Google pay-per-click and banner ads) to more efficient programs that deliver organic inquiries that cost much less to obtain.”

The combination of a top-rated CRM solution with professional Search Engine Optimization (SEO) expertise is a unique differentiator for Commence and addresses a critical need for small to mid-size businesses that are tired and frustrated with CRM solutions that do not get used and with spending large amounts of money on ineffective sales and lead generation programs.

To learn more visit commence.com or call 1-877-COMMENCE.

Are You Hindered by Formerly Effective Sales Policies?

Raise the bar to reach your goal | Kahle Wisdom

By Dave Kahle

I call it FIP.  Fine in the Past.  It refers to all the sales and marketing efforts, ideas, policies, principles, techniques, and strategies that worked well in the past, but are no longer effective.  The past is everything that’s pre-2012.

I still recall a poignant moment with an attendee at one of my seminars.  During the break he came up to me and said this:

“I’ve been in business for seventeen years.  And we’ve done well.  But now, it seems like everything is changing, and I don’t know what to do.”

He went on to explain that he had built his formerly thriving tool and die business on certain core principles:  Quality workmanship, competitive prices, and good service.  Those principles, adhered to with discipline and conviction, had brought him word-of-mouth business consistently over the years.  But they were no longer working, and his business was floundering.  The pain and confusion were written all over his face as he contemplated the prospect of seeing his business wither away.

Those principles are some of the most common examples of FIP: Business principles and policies that were sufficient on which to build a business, but today are not.  At one time, you could distinguish your business from others on the basis of these and other FIP principles.  Now, however, the bar has risen.  Because there is so much churn in our marketplace and the competition is so fierce, the kinds of service and quality that were sufficient to distinguish yourself from your competition are no longer sufficient.  Your customers expect previously outstanding levels of service and quality from every supplier.  What was sufficient a few years ago is still necessary today, but no longer sufficient.

That reliance on quality service and word-of-mouth marketing is a FIP principle.  When viewed from the perspective of effective sales and marketing approaches, these principles are passive.  They rely on your customer’s coming to you, recognizing the superiority of your product or service, and then talking about you to others.  Your job is to create an attractive operation that will pull customers to you and then keep them coming back.

When everyone else operated in similar fashion, that was FIP.  But when more and more competitors appear, and they make the same claims as you do, your reliance on passive marketing methods relegates you to second choice.

Probably one of the greatest marketing myths of all time is encapsulated in the expression, “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.”  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Once you build a better mousetrap, you then have to publicize it, price it correctly, and develop a sales system to take it to market in an effective and efficient way.  And if you don’t do that, your mousetrap will linger in the limbo of obscurity.

I’ve seen literally hundreds of businesses of all sizes who never reached their potential because of an inability to do sales well.  They were perfectly capable of rendering outstanding service at competitive prices but struggled to survive.  These FIP principles were so deeply ingrained in their mindsets that they never learned to do sales as well as they could, and their businesses never reached the level of prosperity and success that they could have reached.  The economic landscape is littered with the remains of businesses who were excellent in providing their product or service, but mediocre in selling it.

Here are some other FIP principles, followed by the more effective modern approach.

FIP # 1:  Creating sales by relying totally on outside sales people.

It was OK to hire a number of sales people, give them some basic training, and then charge them with “Go forth and sell a lot.”  Sales territories were geographically based and each sales person was a clone of the other.  Accountability was a nasty word that no one repeated.

MEMA:  (More Effective Modern Approach)

Customers are first profiled to collect relevant marketing information.  Then, they are analyzed and segmented, not only by their potential, but by the dynamics of the most effective sales approaches.  The arsenal of sales methodologies now includes a variety of weapons:  Web site marketing, e-commerce, trade show marketing, out-bound telemarketing, and data-base marketing to name a few.  The appropriate sales methodology is selected based on the potential and dynamics of the customer.  Customer contacts are tracked on a CRM system.  The sales person becomes one of many methods of acquiring and nurturing customers.

FIP # 2:  Sales management by pay plan.

In other words, pay them straight commission and everything will take care of itself.


The sales commission plan, while incredibly important, is not the only, nor the primary method of sales management.  Those who supervise sales people, whether they be branch managers, principles or sales managers, understand that the processes and methods they use to focus, motivate and hold sales people accountable are a necessary and strategically important part of how effectively sales is done.  MEMA companies have a formal process of hiring a sales person, training and developing that sales person, helping that person focus his/her energies effectively, and holding them accountable for the wise investment of their selling time. (See our Kahle Way® Sales Management System)

FIP # 3: Reliance on “on-the-job” training.

Everyone can learn how to be an effective sales person.  Just put them out there in a sales territory, and sooner or later they will figure out how to do the job well.


Sales is a profession and, like every profession, requires both a minimum standard of knowledge and behavior in order to be allowed to practice, as well as commitment to continuous improvement in order to prosper.

Would you send your children to a teacher who had never passed the minimum standards?  Would you fly on an airplane with a pilot who had never been certified?  Would you go to a counselor who had never been trained in the basics of the job?  Would you use an accountant who had never studied accounting?

Sales is an equally demanding profession.  MEMA companies understand this, and develop a curriculum and a set of minimum standards for every sales person.  Once the sales person has met the minimum expectations for knowledge and behavior, he/she is expected to continually develop and improve for the rest of their career.

FIP # 4:  Hiring by “feel.”

When it comes time to hire a new sales person, find someone who has some experience in the industry and about whom you “feel” good.


Create a specific hiring process with a profile of the most effective sales person as a model to which to compare all sales candidates.  Use several interviews, formal assessment documents, reference checks and a well-designed pre-hire aptitude assessment to come to a well-informed decision about whom to hire.  MEMA companies understand that hiring by “feel” is often a rationalization for a lack of effort, and that the decision about whom to hire can be the single most important decision most sales managers will make.

The list of FIP positions can go on for quite a while.  These are the most common.  If they apply to you, it is time to rethink your position and move your sales and marketing efforts into the 21stCentury.


“Fine in the Past: Are You Hindered by Formerly Effective Sales & Marketing Policies? (SM-27)” originally published on davekahle.com.

About the Author:

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales authorities. He’s written twelve books, presented in 47 states and eleven countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations. Sign up for his free weekly Ezine. His book, How to Sell Anything to Anyone Anytime, has been recognized by three international entities as “one of the five best English language business books.” Check out his latest book, The Good Book on Business.

Salesforce – Customers Say Too Hard, Too Expensive

Salesforce customers.. That moment when you realize you paid a premium for a product that's too hard to use.

Salesforce.com is recognized as the leading provider of CRM software. Despite the fact that there are other very good products designed for vertical industry segments and ones targeted specifically at small, mid-size or large enterprise organizations, Salesforce has magnificently built this aura about themselves that if you need a CRM solution they are the only game in town.  Great marketing and you have to give credit where credit is due, but things have been changing in the CRM sector.  There are now many more competitors and this competition has put pressure on how much customers are willing to pay for what many now feel has become a commodity market.  In addition, customers have been weighing in on their experience with Salesforce and it’s seems that the shine has come off the Salesforce apple.  Customers indicate that the product is cumbersome to work with and simply too hard to use.  They also feel that they are paying a premium for a product in which they only use a fraction of the functionality.  Many are now looking for an alternative.

The good news is that today there are several vendors that have entered the market with robust offerings that are attractively priced and easier to use than Salesforce.com.  One of these products is Commence CRM from Commence Corporation.  Commence is no stranger to the software industry.  For the past two decades the company has been a providing application development tools too small and mid-size companies whose business requirements simply could not be met by traditional one size fits all CRM solutions.  Commence utilized its tools to build Commence CRM, which like Salesforce enables growing businesses to manage accounts and contacts, sales, marketing, customer service and projects; but unlike Salesforce.com, Commence CRM is easy to use and about half the overall cost.  The product is now considered a top-rated solution for small to mid-size businesses.

Commence CRM is uniquely positioned between basic out-of-the-box, one size fits all solutions and more complex costly solutions like Salesforce.com.  The company’s reputation for providing world class customer service is noted by recent testimonials from new customers.

If you are looking to replace Salesforce.com or need a comprehensive easy to use flexible solution for managing sales, marketing, customer service and projects take a look at Commence CRM. You will be glad you did.  See our Salesforce comparison http://www.commence.com/salesforce-review/

Best CRM Alternatives to Salesforce 2018

Don't be fooled by cheap imitations.

CRM solutions come in three sizes. There are several products designed for large enterprises, a few for mid-size companies and a myriad of basic low-cost or freemium offerings for small businesses.  Despite the marketing rhetoric from Salesforce.com that they are the best solution for all sectors, the reality is they simply are not.  It’s a great product chock full of a features and functions that, while suitable for large organizations, are simply overkill for most small to mid-size businesses. Many small to mid-size firms that have selected Salesforce have found it to be cumbersome, hard to use and simply too costly for the functionality they require.   This seems to be a fair assessment. It does not mean that Salesforce is a bad product, but perhaps not the best one for every size business.

Salesforce is known as the number one provider in the space and as such, everyone wants to take a shot at them.  I would like to defend Salesforce in perhaps an unusual way.  You see it seems like each month there is a new article written about the best alternatives to Salesforce.com, but most of them hold little merit. Here’s why. The latest one I reviewed was titled Best Cheap Alternatives to Salesforce.com. This article listed a dozen or more products, some free and others that offer a basic low-cost out of the box solution for managing contacts, a sales forecast and a bit more. These are not cheap CRM alternatives to Salesforce.com, they are simply cheap CRM solutions. Not one of these offers a fraction of the functionality that Salesforce.com does.  After reading this article you get the feeling that you can get the features of Salesforce.com at a fraction of the cost – but you can’t, and anyone with a brain knows this. So, what’s the point of this article?  To me it illustrates how much the author does not know about Salesforce.com or CRM for that matter.

There are a few solution providers that offer a robust set of features that are similar to Salesforce and at a lower cost, but strangely enough not one of these was listed in this particular article. I am not referring to unknown start-ups here. How about Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Commence CRM or Sugar CRM?  These are companies that compete with Salesforce.com every day, offer a comprehensive suite of functionality, are lower cost and have been providing services to mid-size companies for a decade or more.  These are the best less expensive alternatives to Salesforce.com.  To learn more about any of the above firms visit their specific web sites.