When SaaS finally took shape as a practical concept not long ago, a number of tool types never before practical to design and market became a reality. Business intelligence software, help desk systems, document management tools, a whole number of things came into being quickly. Another one of these are customer relationship management tools. These exploded onto the scene with gusto as soon as SaaS was a proven concept.
Over time, customer relationship management tools became diverse, increasingly complex, and overwhelmingly popular in the new business world. CRM has become the heart of business, with every department using the shared data of CRM to craft powerful customer experiences that work wonders for business and customer loyalty, as well as precision in measurement and strategizing.
What are the best CRM tools available? It’s hard to answer that, if you’re factoring in things like business sizes and different needs. But, as far as top level software, I can give you three that are outstanding.
These are pricier tools, just know this going in. I’ve recommended many in the past for lower budgets, let’s take a look at the big boys today.
#1 – Salesforce
Of course Salesforce is number one. It’s the most popular CRM tool out there, winning almost every comparison it’s been in, making it to the tops of lists like these, and getting endless discussion in SaaS development circles and business technology markets.
Well, it’s not surprising when you consider that on top of all the core CRM functionality, it offers creation of custom controls, reports and records to a level unparalleled, and offers an exposed API that makes extending the functionality however you like very possible.
On top of that, it integrates with vast amounts of other systems, and has an expansive app market to boot.
Microsoft was bound to throw their hat into the ring at some point, and they did a pretty good job with Dynamics. Being a web-powered system that supports Microsoft standards like ASP and the .Net framework makes developing extra functionality for this easy for experienced MS platform developers to dive into. It lacks the level of integration with other systems, and the app market, but it makes up for it in Microsoft dependability, extended forms of API access and more data space available for most tiers.
Zoho is really meant for medium businesses, but its increasing functionality and improvement has pulled it into the realm of the big boys pretty quickly. It’s a bit of a commitment though, because it only integrates natively with other Zoho solutions.
However, Zoho’s getting big, and it’s very competent, so if you’re not interested in Salesforce nor Microsoft Dynamics, Zoho is an excellent choice.
Of course, there are other interesting customer relationship management tools out there, like Sugar CRM, for example, which is an open source alternative, and many other solutions for slightly different purposes are beginning to bring in CRM functionality. I’m interested to see when Google’s mythical CRM solution comes out, and see if it manages to put the squeeze on these guys, like they have in other software industries.