Salesforce.com has done an excellent job in establishing themselves as a leading provider of CRM software. They have done it with a massive marketing and advertising campaign and a pretty good product, but this solution is not for everyone and small to mid-size enterprises continue to find it to be cumbersome and simply too expensive. The good news is that like any product or service offered today there are some very good low cost alternatives that are easier to use.
CRM solutions come in all flavors from simple contact managers to comprehensive systems that automate both front and back office business processes. Most small to mid-size businesses however are just not that sophisticated. Their focus is traditionally centered on managing accounts and contacts, adding notes and history, scheduling follow-up activity, managing leads and sales opportunities, integrating e-mail and generating reports. These features are fairly common among CRM providers that service mid-size businesses. So who are these alternative players? I will get to that in a minute, but first let’s talk about what makes one CRM solution better than another.
This is a common question that is traditionally addressed by people engaging in a feature function war, meaning who has the most features, but the answer is much deeper than this. What makes Salesforce.com who they are has a lot to do with the architecture of their product which has proven to support a large number of users with pretty good performance. The system also supports multiple languages and multiple currencies so if you have hundreds of users and require multi-language and multi-currency support, Salesforce would be a very good solution. But what if you don’t need all of this? What if you have 10 or 20 users, even 50 and have no enterprise level or international requirements? If this sounds more like your business, then there are some better easier to use more affordable options for you. If you do select Salesforce.com, that’s fine. Just keep in mind that you will be paying a high price for features, functions and a platform that you simply do not need. I am not referring to the $5 or $15 dollar editions that reduce the product’s capability to nothing more than a basic contact management solution with a sales forecast. I am referring to the $65 to $250 dollar editions that are twice as expensive as other high quality providers that offer similar functionality. Add a service agreement and you’ll wonder what you got yourself into when the annual contract renewal arrives. This is not a let’s beat up on Salesforce.com article. As indicated earlier theirs is an excellent choice for large organizations with multi-national business requirements. But for SMEs there are other good online CRM software products that have been specifically designed for the small to mid-size business sector that have proven to be a better choice.
One of these productcustomer management software to small and mid-size companies for two decades, has a large customer base and a proven track record for providing a quality product and excellent customer service. Commence is not an enterprise platform and has no multi-language support at this time, but what it does offer is a comprehensive suite of applications that rival Salesforce.com at half the cost. In addition to the traditional contact management and sales functionality Commence takes CRM software to the next level, offering a marketing application, a customer service or help desk application, a document library and project management. The product also offers good integration with popular e-mail programs. Customer data can be accessed from a PC, Apple Mac, Tablet or smartphone. Full mobile access is also provided at no additional cost.
What also differentiates Commence CRM however from mid-market competitors is the product’s architecture. Similar to Salesforce.com, the Commence platform is designed with industry standard components for cloud based computing and is scalable and fast. Customer data is stored via a strategic partnership with Rackspace, the number one provider of data hosting services in the world. This combination of functionality and price coupled with a 20 year history and track record for high quality service and best in class data hosting has made Commence CRM a popular choice among small to mid-size businesses.
To learn more about Commence CRM software visit the company’s website at www.commence.com.
Image “BIG BUT SMALL” by whologwhy on Flickr under Creative Commons license.