Online CRM software has become very synonymous with the SaaS revolution. CRM labored in obscurity as poor traditional software and awkward tool chains, and when SaaS made it practical for more niche software to be marketed, CRM was one of the first things to spring forth.
So, as a result of this, there’s a menagerie of online CRM solution out there. CRM has kind of become a backbone of business, all departments handle their data collaboratively over CRM now, with interoperability with a few other smaller tools as well.
What’s the best of the best, in an industry that everyone is cashing in on right now? Well, to a small degree, it depends on what you need. So, what I’ll do is point out three online CRM software solutions that match different general business needs. One of these is bound to be right for you.
#1 – Salesforce (Larger Businesses)
Salesforce is, when different business scales are factored out, generally considered the best CRM solution available. It’s actually accessible to smaller businesses too, but given the price for even the most basic packages being fairly high, it’s not financially ideal for them, most of the time.
Salesforce offers all of the basic CRM functions you expect – cases, accounts, campaigns, leads and all kinds of reports and records that carry the life blood data of business around.
What makes Salesforce special is that they offer a huge level of customization, including custom forms and reports, an exposed API called Apex that allows extensions to be developed, and integration tie ins for tons of other SaaS tools.
On top of this, it has a huge app market for commercially-developed Apex extension that makes limits to features voluntary only.
#2 – Zoho (Medium Businesses)
Zoho is oriented to medium sized businesses as well as small businesses, though I have a better solution for startups in a moment. Zoho models itself after a lot of Salesforce’s best practices, making them the less expensive imitator. However, they’re smart about it, and market for a different sector.
They lack the app exchange and some of the customizability of Salesforce, and does have somewhat less integration capability, but it is still open to development and expansion, making it a good solution for established, but not huge, businesses.
#3 – Sugar CRM (Small Businesses)
Sugar CRM is of a different philosophy, being open source. This means that the source code of this solution can be freely accessed and modified to suit your needs. The problem here is, like Linux, this open source nature has caused many versions of it to float around, despite the developers’ attempts to control that reasonably.
However, this means it’s incredibly easy to brand and customize this solution, if you have access to programming skills. It’s pretty darn competent out of the box, it just lacks the integration and app libraries completely. You’ll have to build those yourself, or look on public source forums for unlicensed add on functionality. This is actually safer than it sounds.
So, these are the more popular and ideal online CRM software solutions for the different sizes of business. Of course, since it’s one from each scale, this leaves out competitors from these departments, like Siebel or Dynamics.
Michael is the Lead Author & Editor of CRMSimplified Blog. Michael established the CRM blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to CRM.