CRM – Overly Simplistic or Too Complex for Most Businesses

Solution providers in the CRM software space seem to fall into two categories.  Basic low cost programs are easy to use but provide limited functionality; and feature rich solutions that are far too complex for most businesses.  The two extremes have caused a high degree of frustration among companies that have implemented CRM software programs.  Some are now looking to replace the basic solution they selected for something a bit more robust, while others are trying to reduce the high cost and complexity of the one they selected.

Make The Right Choice by sheelamohan ID-100218145

While dozens of companies continue to do battle in the space, Commence Corporation is targeting what it believes is an under-served middle market with a feature-rich CRM solution that is more affordable and easier to use than products from Microsoft and Salesforce.com.

“Small to mid-market companies often have unique business requirements,” says Larry Caretsky, CEO at Commence Corporation “that are not being met by basic CRM offerings.  The industry giants can address these needs, but people have found these solutions to be far too expensive and complex for their business.  Commence is aggressively working to fill this void.”

What differentiates Commence CRM from competitive offerings?  “That is easy,” says Caretsky. “Commence CRM provides features that are simply not available in basic CRM packages, such as: customization of views and forms, multilevel data searches, security permissions, pre-built analytical reporting, customizable lead qualification and sales process management, shared calendaring, seamless e-mail integration and more.  In addition, Commence CRM offers marketing campaign management, a customer service or help desk application and a project management module.  This level of functionality is only available from enterprise level solutions at two to three times the cost.  Commence CRM is a robust affordable solution for the middle market coupled with an experienced support staff that ensures customers realize the maximum value from our solution.”

When asked, “What is the biggest challenge facing Commence Corporation in the CRM sector?” Caretsky indicated, “Simply rising above the noise of the industry giants.  It is hard to out-market Microsoft and Salesforce.com.  Both have good products, but they cannot be all things to all people.  No company can service the small, mid-sized and enterprise market with the same solution.  Perhaps this is why there is such a high degree of dissatisfaction in the industry.  Commence is 100 percent focused on businesses that require more than a basic CRM solution, but not the cost and complexity of the industry giants.  We are delivering value and making a name for ourselves,” says Caretsky.

thumbs-up-represents-all-right-and-agreement-by-stuart-miles-100271281

Read what customers are saying on the Commence CRM website or on review sites like getapp.com and serchen.com.

Image “Make The Right Choice” by sheelamohan/freedigitalphotos.net

Image “Thumbs Up Represents All Right And Agreement” by Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net

CRM Software a Commodity, but Not For Everyone

I do not think you can find a more competitive market sector than CRM software. If you are a small business there are at least 100 options to choose from. There are dozens of free offerings and dozens more for just a few dollars a day. Some are not bad and some are not very good, but it’s clear that CRM has become a commodity market for the small businesses market.

This is not the case for mid-size and larger companies who require robust functionality, the ability to customize the CRM software and integrate it with other third party software programs such as accounting or ERP. If you require the CRM system to automate sales, marketing, customer service and project management functions it narrows done the field quite a bit. There are some very good companies and solutions to choose from, but CRM at this level is anything but a commodity. Selecting a higher level CRM solution will require you to spend the time to ensure the solution you select can meet your unique requirements, can scale as your business grows and that there is a strong support organization in place to assist with the implementation, training and support of the product.

If you are a small business one of the ways to narrow the field in this commodity market is to ask a few simple questions.

trademark-logo-and-marketing-by-stuart-miles-id-100260131

1. Reputation of the company

Does the vendor you are considering have a track record in the industry? All you are trying to determine here is if others have been in your position, selected this vendor and are satisfied with their decision.

information-privacy-and-control-by-stuart-miles-id-100259303

2. Where do they house your data?

This is perhaps one of the most overlooked questions. Your data is your business and you need to know where it is being stored and how you can get at it if you need to.

questioning-and-explanation-by-stuart-miles-id-100260009

3. Is there a telephone number on the website?

If the company does not have a telephone number on their web site it is most likely because there is no one there to answer when you call. This is a big red flag that service will be poor and that your business relationship will consist of untimely e-mails and frustration. Call the vendors you are considering and see how they respond to your questions. This will tell you a lot about the kind of support you can expect after the sale.

Images courtesy of Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net

Customer Support Differentiates CRM Software Providers

CRM is all about building and managing the business relationships with your customers and in order to be effective you have to do this before, during and after the sale. Mid-size and larger organizations realize that this will require a fairly comprehensive CRM solution that addresses four business processes; account management, sales opportunity management, marketing campaign management and customer support. They also realize that they will require professional services, training and perhaps some assistance in tailoring any CRM solution to their requirements. This makes the CRM software selection process a bit easier for these companies because there are only a few high quality solution providers that can meet these criteria. It also serves to quickly differentiate the myriad of product offerings that do not.

Customer Support Executive by stockimages ID-100109206

The customer support aspect of CRM software is the key differentiator. I am not simply referring to companies that provide good customer service, but instead those that offer a Customer Support or integrated Help Desk application for ticket management. The big differentiator here is that when you access a customer profile you not only see account and sales history, but the service history as well thereby completing the picture and enabling you to properly manage the relationship with that customer. If they have had a difficult service history for example you will want to treat them a bit differently so that you can build trust in the relationship. If you have not captured this information you have no way to know this.

More and more companies are becoming interested in the customer service aspect of CRM. If you think this may be an important part of your decision process today or in the future, you may want to take a look at CRM solution providers that offer this level of functionality.

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

CRM Software – No Training Required

Hard at Work

Got your attention haven’t I and isn’t this exactly what small businesses want to hear?  It sure is and it’s the “tag line” of the majority of CRM vendors who sell to the small to mid-size business community.  Why?  Because it’s the only way to sell to this segment of the industry and it works.

No one wants to hear that they have to invest time in training or customization to address their business requirements.  The darn thing should just work out of the box and make my organization a more efficient sales and service organization.

The Myth of Low Cost CRM

Thousands of small to mid-size businesses have jumped on the CRM bandwagon due to the plethora of low cost CRM systems that you can simply download in minutes over the internet. Despite documented reports that as many as 70 percent of these companies fail to realize any measurable results they continue to buy these programs anyway.

What is it about CRM software that leaves this false impression – that you can improve how you market, sell and provide service to your customers by simply buying an online CRM system over the Internet?   More importantly what makes smart people believe this?

The Truth about CRM

Here are a couple of facts to think about…

Fact: CRM software is a tool

Not unlike a hammer or saw, it requires people to take hold of the tool and do something constructive with it.  By itself the tool does nothing.

Fact: Easy CRM is not the same as Functional CRM

If the CRM software you select is incredibly easy to use, it probably will not provide much value to you.  Certainly if you’re looking to simply get rid of your Excel spreadsheet and get a database of accounts and contacts you will be fine. But if you require much more than this then forget-about-it.

A Successful CRM Implementation is More Affordable than you Think

One CRM software firm that is having a great deal of success in the small business CRM sector is Commence Corporation.  Commence offers an affordable online CRM solution that has proven to help small businesses improve sales execution and customer service, but it’s not downloadable over the Internet.

In addition, Commence strongly suggests that its customers take advantage of the company’s expertise in sales, marketing and customer service by engaging in what Commence calls its on-boarding program. The on-boarding program ensures that Commence customers realize immediate value from their solution. The program engages the professional services team at Commence to tailor the CRM system to meet your unique business requirements and then train your staff on CRM workflow automation.  It’s a small one time investment that returns measurable results and has helped catapult Commence to a leadership position among small to mid-size businesses seeking customer relationship management software.

Image “Hard at Work” by Will Vanlue on Flickr under Creative Commons license.

On Line CRM Best Bet For Small to Mid-Size Enterprises

Foster Launches Seminars to Boost BusinessSmall to mid-size enterprises looking for a Customer Relationship Management solution may find that online CRM software best suits their business requirements.  The current economic environment has placed a great deal of financial pressure on the SME sector.  Many companies have found themselves with limited resources and working with a dated IT infrastructure that will cost a large amount of money to upgrade and maintain.  “It’s simply too hard to manage and maintain desktop software today” says Patrick Murphy, managing director at SiliconCloud, a provider of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) solutions.  “We switched to CRM Online, which has alleviated any additional investment in hardware or software and enabled us to focus one hundred percent of our time on growing our business.  Having our CRM system online has also provided us with access to our data anytime and from anywhere via an Internet browser. Prior to this we were tied to our desktop computer.”

“There is clearly a significantly higher interest in CRM online today” says Tom Gibson, sales manager at Commence Corporation a top rated provider of CRM software.  Customers want to be up and running quickly, without having to worry if they have the proper hardware in place. In addition, they now demand access to their data from mobile devices such as a tablet PC or smartphone.  Online CRM software provides this traditionally at no additional cost.  This is driving SME’s to consider online CRM vs. desktop solutions.”

Image “Foster Launches Seminars to Boost Business” by DUP Photos on Flickr under Creative Commons license.