Many big names in the enterprise application space, such as Microsoft and Oracle, have realised the strategic importance of small and medium-sized businesses and offer fully featured or stripped down versions of their CRM applications for this market segment. Besides the well-known brands, there are also many smaller companies that offer good-value products with proven track records.
Although they offer solutions for small and medium-sized businesses, packages from Oracle, Siebel and SAP are more likely to be implemented by larger companies. Solutions from FrontRange, Salesforce.com and SalesLogix are likely to be used by organisations of all sizes.
Here’s a selection of some of the vendors and CRM packages to give you a flavour of the market:
Microsoft CRM: Microsoft’s initial versions fell short of expectations both in terms of functionality and usability. The company has made significant improvements in the current release of Microsoft CRM 3.00.
NetSuite: NetSuite differentiates itself by offering a wide range of on-demand applications that extend beyond just CRM. It offers hosted solutions that cover areas such as accounting and point of sale. You can even get localised versions, such as NetSuite 9.5 UK.
Oracle: Siebel has been around the longest in the CRM market and is now owned by Oracle. Oracle offers the Siebel Customer Relationship Management solution with two deployment options — hosted and on premises.
RightNow: Another player in the hosted CRM market space, RightNow Technologies is considered by many to be the second-largest player in the hosted CRM market.
Sage CRM SalesLogix: Sage claims to have the largest network of local support for a hosted CRM solution in the UK. It also has a unique pricing strategy called “Rent to Own,” which allows customers to own the application after a fixed period.
Salesforce.com: This provider is a leader in “on-demand”, that is, internet-based, CRM solutions.
SugarCRM: You might also want to consider an “open source” product like SugarCRM. Some companies have found open source products to be just as intuitive, versatile and scalable as most commercial applications.
As you can see, the array of choices can be bewildering. Your best bet is to work closely with a solutions provider to determine which CRM package best suits your needs.