Software as a Service: Handling Customers, Hands-Free

Still paying hundreds of thousands of dollars on hardware, labor and maintenance for in-house customer relationship management systems? Hosted CRM is not a new concept, but more and more companies are deploying the software to pump up their sales operations.

Those companies are finding cost savings in reduced maintenance fees and deployment times. They’re also gaining more visibility into their sales and service operations than ever before.

Handling Customers, Hands-Free
A stream of consolidation and new offerings reshaped the on-demand CRM market, pitting high-profile insurgents against some of the world’s largest software makers. See how a major market research firm, a health food maker and an English consulting giant boosted their customer relationship operations with hosted software. Continue reading “Software as a Service: Handling Customers, Hands-Free”

5 Tips for Deploying On-Demand CRM

Vendors can offer all kinds of suggestions on how to plan your deployment. Consultants can help with time lines and schedules. But if you’re looking for some serious advice on how to kick-start your project–and see it through–who better to ask than those who’ve done it before?

Baseline turned to five managers who have deployed on-demand CRM, asking them, “What advice would you give to someone who hasn’t started using a hosted solution?” Here’s what they had to say. Continue reading “5 Tips for Deploying On-Demand CRM”

Jumping Right In – 3 Free CRM Trials

Before investing thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in a new CRM system it’s probably a good idea to test drive at least a couple solutions. Sure, you can read the product feature comparison charts and all the marketing fluff that makes it sound like it’s a perfect solution for you but you won’t know this until you actually try out the system firsthand.

Since most CRM market leaders now provide an on-demand CRM system, it’s very easy to get started. On-demand CRM is basically a web-based application that you login to via your web browser. You don’t need to download, unzip, install, or configure anything — instead you simply fill out an online form with your personal and/or company contact information, set up a username and password, and voila…you’re ready to begin.

Mike Santoro over at ducttapemarketing.com blogged about using the free CRM trials as a tool before making your final decision. He then provides two pieces of advice and lists three CRM online trials you can take advantage of right away. The three CRM trials are from Netsuite, Salesforce.com, and SageCRM.

My advice (especially if you’re currently in the evaluation stage of CRM systems), is to try at least two of the three that he lists and see for yourself which one might work best for you and your company. That way when you later have to speak with management and provide a recommendation on which CRM system your company should use, you can feel confident that you did your due diligence prior to taking action.

7 Steps to Making a CRM Purchase Decision

Compare CRMI came across a pretty cool CRM information site called CompareCRM.com which has some free tools to help you choose the right CRM solutions. CompareCRM features information about the leading CRM vendors and their website makes it easy to build your CRM shortlist. You’ll find information on the company, key product strengths, modules and more. You can also request a fee demo or trial from most of the vendors.

Their free white papers are packed with tools and advice which will help you negotiate the best CRM deal. Be sure to checkout: “7 Steps to Making a CRM Purchase Decision”, and the “Insider’s Guide to Getting the Best CRM Software Deal”. You’ll have to register for these papers, but they have good information for small and mid-size companies buying CRM software.

Apparently you can also tell CompareCRM your CRM requirements and they will recommend a CRM vendor for you based on your company’s size, functionality requirements, hosted or on-premise needs and budget.

Pretty cool CRM information site overall!

Avoiding CRM Failure – Where to Start

If we look at why CRM initiatives fail, we can get a sense of why success will require better planning. Perhaps you’ve read the myriad of articles that state the high failure rate of CRM projects. Typically, survey results say that anywhere from 60% to 80% of CRM projects fail. What exactly do these studies mean when they use the term “failure”? In these cases, failure means,

  1. the project was late
  2. the project was over budget
  3. the project delivered less functionality than originally planned
  4. some combination of any of these.

Usually, “failure” is a combination of at least two of these situations, which is pretty bad. Continue reading “Avoiding CRM Failure – Where to Start”

CRM Software Selection Does Not Have to Be Daunting Task

Susan Campbell talks about how Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software solutions can do great things for a company, when they are selected and implemented correctly. She then goes on the say “This is easier said than done, however, and many decision makers are left scratching their heads trying to determine exactly what the company’s needs are and how to select a solution that actually meets those needs.”

Before a company can investigate a CRM software solution, it must first be able to properly identify company goals, strategies and business objectives and what benefits related to these factors they hope to gain from the CRM software implementation. By properly aligning the CRM software selection with business objectives, the focus is put directly on these objectives and not getting caught up in clarifying the company’s IT strategy. Such an approach also enables the company to consider growth objectives and ensure that these are clearly defined. Continue reading “CRM Software Selection Does Not Have to Be Daunting Task”

Sugar CRM – How Sweet is it?

CRM Sugar Cube Those of you who don’t know sugar CRM, it is an open-source CRM system. Sugar open source enables sales marketing and support organizations to manage their customer interactions more efficiently and profitably and is intended for both large and small companies worldwide.From what I hear sugar CRM is the best sales tool I’ve seen for free and is great if you have the technical resources to configure it. Even though it’s free and highly configurable I’m still not quite sold on it as a solution for a corporation.

I for one would rather not hassle with setting up your own servers and system architecture internally and I would recommend a hosted solution such as salesforce.com. But for those that are looking to keep their infrastructure and systems internal, open source CRM solutions such as sugar CRM could be your best bet.

Overall sugar CRM is rethinking how technology can help companies manage customer relationships. Sugar is the market leading commercial open-source CRM application and delivers a fairly good set of business features right out of the box.

What is CRM? – Basic Definition

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. Today, CRM
encompasses most of the earlier customer centric practices such as
Sales Force Automation, Contact Management, Marketing Automation, and
Customer and Field Service. It is typically a suite of software used
to manage a customers’ needs and behaviors in order to develop
stronger lasting relationships with them.

There are many different areas in which Customer Relationship
Management can be implemented. The goal of CRM is to help a company
maintain current customers, as well as gain new customers.