Hesam Seyed Mousavi, March 31, 2014
When creating a new contact, you have the option to designate whether the individual is one of 10 customer types, including an investor, press representative, perspective client, or even a competitor. You can mark each individual contact and task as private, so only you can see it, or allow all CRM users to access the information. This is especially useful for protecting sensitive information involving investors or acquisitions that should not be made public.
In order to create a new contact, first you must create a company account with a designated account number. After the account is created you then can enter a new customer and their information, and connect them to the existing company account. This extra step can be frustrating when you need to enter new contact information quickly.
When you add contacts into the CRM, you have the option to allow other employees and departments access to the information and receive periodic reports on activities on the account. This allows support personnel the ability to track customer complaints, financial advisors to see payment history and IT specialists to see what attempts have been made to help solve problems. It also is invaluable for managers as they conduct performance evaluations of their employees.
You can tailor the viewing fields so that they display information that makes sense to you and your job functions. You can filter contacts and file account information by name, department or sales campaigns to make it easier to find what you are looking for, or you can group important contacts and information together by project.
If you already have a contact saved in another CRM program, in Outlook or even in an Excel spreadsheet, you can easily import that information directly into Salesforce. From within Salesforce, you can dial clients, email responses or even send out mass emails informing clients about upcoming events or press releases. Salesforce keeps track of emails that bounce back and accounts that have multiple contacts, and it can be set to send out automatic replies to specific client groups.
Salesforce can also sync to your Outlook. This allows any communication that happens through Outlook to be saved and shared with Salesforce.
Sales & Marketing
While any CRM software’s main function is organizing and tracking customer interactions, some of the best programs also track sales and marketing tasks. Not only does Salesforce have these important sales and marketing features, they are automatically included in the CRM program, so you don’t have to pay extra for these capabilities.
You can use Salesforce CRM software to generate leads. As you enter in contact information, you can designate how you met that individual – whether it was during a conference, at a tradeshow, or during the plane ride on you last business trip. Salesforce allows you to easily filter contacts so that those with similar interests are grouped together. These contacts can then be used as targets for effective marketing campaigns and to generate additional leads, contacts and business deals.
Any type of report that you may need to generate can be done right within Salesforce CRM. Activity reports, lead reports, sales reports, best practice reports, call center reports and many more are automatically generated with a few clicks of a button. You can choose which reports are made public, which remain private and which can be shared with only a handful of important individuals.
You can use Salesforce CRM to keep track of the employees assigned to each client or task to ensure they are finding solutions and interacting appropriately. The group calendar allows everyone to see which tasks have been assigned to each employee, while reports show if customer concerns were addressed quickly by support personnel. These task reports are valuable in determining where the weak links are and in employee performance reviews.
Within the Salesforce CRM is a great tool called Chatter. Chatter lets you create your own social media-type network through the CRM that lets your employees connect, learn more about the uses of the Salesforce CRM and bounce ideas for marketing campaigns and competitive strategies. You can create specialized groups, such as sales, marketing and Q&A sections, where employees can post questions and search through libraries of information that you, and others upload and share.
Each individual user has the option to create a personal profile. These profiles can include pictures, contact information such as email addresses and phone numbers, and any Chatter groups they have joined. Just like other social media outlets, the Salesforce profile has a newsfeed that shows recent activity by that employee, including customer service issues they have addressed, follow-up emails they have sent and sales agreements they have closed. These profiles maybe marked as private and used for employees to track their own progress or made public for the entire workforce to see each other’s achievements.
Ease of Use
The design of Salesforce CRM is very clean, easy to navigate and eye appealing. There aren’t too many tabs, data fields or cluttering text. Instead, the view windows have just the information you need for that task with additional tabs along the top that make it easy to toggle between the tasks that you need.
With the Salesforce mobile app, you can connect to your CRM software while on the go. If you are out trying to close a deal, you can access Salesforce to view a history of your interaction with that client or investor to help you with your sales pitch. If you meet a new potential customer, it’s easy to input their information and create a new contact account from your cell phone, tablet or other mobile device.
The pay scale for Salesforce’s services is a little difficult to follow. Not only is there a monthly, per user fee, Salesforce also places a cap on how many users, customer contacts and sales campaigns you can have. If you need more, you will have to pay additional costs each month.
Help & Support
One advantage to having your CRM hosted on Salesforce’s cloud is that you receive each software update automatically.
Salesforce has a wide range of help and support options. Within the CRM program itself there are prompts that you can click on and receive tips and helps for entering information into fields and connecting them to various tasks and users. A hidden side bar that expands as you roll over it has common topics and walk-throughs, including video tutorials and illustrated step-by-step instructions that open in separate windows so you don’t have to worry about clicking any back buttons to get to your CRM.
If you need individual help with your CRM program, Salesforce has email, telephone and live chat support available. However, we found it difficult to actually connect with personnel and get answers to our questions in a timely manner. However, most questions are easily answered with the video tutorials and embedded helps within the program.
While the pay scale for its services is tricky to understand and it is hard to get ahold of live support, Salesforce has the most user-friendly interface, the best uses for contact management, and the most advanced sales and marketing strategies among the CRM software we reviewed.
NetSuite has every CRM tool imaginable. You can see each contact’s role within a company, problems they have encountered with your products or services, which employees have assisted them and if they are repeat customers. Each customer portal highlights client interactions in a convenient timeline and allows you to authorize individual employees or departments to access client contact information and history.
This CRM solution lets you email individual customers or send mass emails from right within the customer relationship management application. This means you can also generate an invoice and immediately send it via email without needing to open your email program in a separate window. It also has dialing capabilities, which means with a compatible phone system and a click of a link, you can call a client from within NetSuite.
With this software, you can import contact information from many different programs, including an Excel spreadsheet. You can easily upload all of your email contacts and other information stored in an old CRM program into NetSuite where it will be converted, formatted and saved automatically.
Since this application is cloud-based, you can access client information from any computer, laptop or mobile device. This solution can also be access and used on Mac computers and devices.
Sales & Marketing
Using the eCommerce add-on, you can track client activity on your company website. NetSuite tracks potential clients that visit your site and imports their information into the software. If you have information fields on your website, this information is captured and filed in your CRM. Even if you don’t capture personal client information, the software tracks the cyber paths each visitor takes on your site, each link they click and the pages they view. This information is sent to your sales team to be used for future marketing campaigns, lead generation and sales forecasts.
Since NetSuite CRM is part of the ERP business application, it comes with all the tools you need to track sales activity, create marketing campaigns, send sales receipts, monitor inventory and generate leads. The application makes it possible to automate sales and track your competition. All of these are invaluable tools that can help you grow your bottom line.
Since everyone in your organization is connected to the customer relationship management software, you can track each employee’s workflow, task completion ratio and progress reports. The group calendar is a great place for everyone to keep track of their to-do lists and show off their accomplishments when they are completed.
While there are plenty of helps and walk-throughs that each user can access for help in using the CRM software, you have the option of creating your own knowledgebase specifically geared towards your employees and organization. You can create links to articles or upload documents that give encouragement, as well as outline company policies and procedures.
Ease of Use
NetSuite CRM is very user-friendly. The program is clean and easy to navigate with clearly marked tabs located at the top of the interface. The text fields are clearly marked with useful prompts in case you get a little overwhelmed with all the data you are entering.
Sometimes a lot of white space can make a program look like something is missing, but NetSuite uses extra space in its interface wisely with help tabs and customizable window views so you can see all information regarding a client or employee from several different angles. The interface also doesn’t have any distracting clutter.
Help & Support
NetSuite’s customer support is great. The staff is very helpful and goes above and beyond to ensure that they answer all of your questions. The company answers emails within 24 hours and wait times on the telephone aren’t too long. NetSuite has included a FAQs section and online tutorials on its website and within the CRM software to answer basic and complex questions.
NetSuite CRM connects you with all of your clients and employees, even those located in other countries. The eCommerce application allows you to track customer activity on your website and automatically saves it into your CRM solution. The cloud-based program keeps your data secure on NetSuite’s server, which you can access from any computer or mobile device, so you will always be connected to your clients, even if you are not at your desk.
OnContact has all the tools you need to organize your client contact information. With real-time sharing, every authorized employee and department can also have access to important customer data. This brings everyone from customer service personnel to IT support to sales teams onto the same page, so your clients get the best service your company has to offer. Providing simultaneous access and creating transparencies helps eliminate frustrating repeat calls from customers and decreases the likelihood of customer support projects falling through the cracks.
Other tools included with the software are email integration that lets you create and send email campaigns from right within the program, and dialing capabilities. This allows you to call out to clients while keeping their customer portal open to quickly and accurately take notes and access their important information.
The only difference between the customer relation tools offered by OnContact and the best CRM solution is the storage space available. OnContact allows 2GB of data for the first user and an additional 2GB for the next five. This may be enough storage for your small business needs. However, if you have a lot of clients, 2GB will fill up quickly. OnContact does allow you to purchase additional space while several other CRM software companies include unlimited data storage as part their CRM packages.
Sales & Marketing
All CRM software solutions include basic tools for filing and organizing client information. Not all solutions include sales and marketing features, but OnContact does. With this CRM software you can collaborate sales strategies, create email marketing campaigns and track product orders. With the many reports that can be generated within OnContact, you can easily forecast the future of your company, create sales quotes and generate strong leads. Since everyone in your organization can be granted access to information within OnContact, it will be easier to see where clients are on the sales timeline so you can offer products and services based on their individual needs.
Because of the unique real-time access and workflow automation features of OnContact, you can use this CRM software to track your employees’ performance, too. You can see which support personnel or sales managers have interacted with clients and how effective they were at connecting and establishing a relationship. With the group calendar and task manager, you can see the progress of each member of your team and if they are on target.
OnContact includes the option of creating a knowledgebase, including uploading and sharing files. This library allows you to include tips and hints to help your employees better understand and execute company policies and procedures.
Ease of Use
This CRM solution has a clean, simple design that is easy to navigate. The upper screen tabs and side bar folders make it easy to search for and get to the information you need. The interface has split-screen view options so you can see important information from a variety of folders at once. You can customize these panels to show as much or as little information as you would like. OnContact also includes several helps right within the program so you don’t have to close out or minimize the view windows in order to look for an answer to your questions. The software also uses dropdown menus that we found to be helpful and functional.
Help & Support
If you need help setting up or running this CRM software, you have a lot of support options available. OnContact has both email and telephone support available. You can also connect with customer support personnel using the live chat feature on the company website. There are several online video tutorials that show you step-by-step instructions on using your CRM software. There is also a decent section of frequently asked questions, though most are basic function and feature questions.
OnContact is an impressive CRM solution with a simple, functional design. Its unique navigation relies on drop-down menus, which provide a number of options in each of the available feature categories. We appreciated having the opportunity to choose which categories were shown at any given time, allowing us to personalize the CRM software and use it in a way that proved most effective and efficient for us. Through our research, we found OnContact to have the design and the abilities that most users want in a customer relationship management system, and recommend it as a good choice for CRM software.
Regardless of where you need your valuable customer data stored, Act has both an on-premise and a cloud-based CRM solution for you. This CRM software has a clean layout and intuitive navigation making it easy to log in and go. While Act doesn’t have has many in-depth solutions as the best CRM software we reviewed, it does have a lot to offer.
Like most contact management software, Act integrates with your email applications, so you can open and manage all of your messages from within the CRM software. This makes it easy to record customer interactions, compare complaints and IT problems among clients and create email marketing campaigns. Act also has dialing capabilities; however, we’ve found it difficult at times to dial out and to keep a strong connection.
In addition to email integration, Act has a group calendar to keep your entire team in synch. You can keep track of meetings, phone calls and daily activities – all important in keeping customer relationships strong. As a business contact manager, the software also provides the ability to make a running to-do list so that you can jot something down as soon as it comes to mind, and never worry about losing it.
The split-window design of Act is very helpful in managing multiple tasks and viewing more client history at one time. The top half of the interface will allow you to select a contact while the bottom half of the screen displays contact history, activity, important webpages, notes and opportunities. Information can be accessed quickly and easily by clicking on one of the info tabs running across the top of the view screen.
One great feature of Act CRM software is the many reports it can generate. Most CRM solutions have the ability to create basic accounting, client history and pipeline reports. This software has so many more, including gross margins by individual employees, lost opportunities by competitors and even birthday lists for both clients and employees.
Maximizer CRM software is easy to use with a familiar design that is similar to several Microsoft Office applications. The user-friendly design, variety of features and large number of tools will help your business improve customer relationships. Maximizer is available as either an on-premise or a cloud-based business CRM solution.
The customer relationship management application offers direct importing and exporting with Microsoft Office, making customer lists and address labels, among other things, quick and easy. Through the application you can also access tools which provide assistance in managing opportunities and leads, quotas, campaigns, customer service and your daily schedule/calendar. The CRM software tool gets very intricate, and you will be able to quickly see the status and activity of each contact and account in addition to the representatives dealing with the customer.
One of Maximizer’s top customer relationship management tools is the ability to create automatic campaigns. By syncing your email to the CRM solution, you can create a number of campaigns that will be sent out according to your specifications. These campaigns can be tracked and reports can be run to provide numbers and details that clearly express a campaign’s status – whether won, lost, pending, revenue, etc. The only big tool Maximizer is missing is a dialer so you can call out directly from within the program.
This company has a very user-friendly website that is easy to navigate and isn’t bogged down by a lot of clutter. It lists several support options so you can connect to customer service representatives to help answer questions or troubleshoot software problems. There isn’t a live chat option available, but you can call anytime or use the email form to send your questions to Maximizer.
The company has a blog, online tutorials and a FAQs section with lots of support available. It also has included a help tab and embedded help icons within the program so you can get quick help without needing to log off or toggle away from your CRM software.
Zoho is a good, cloud-based CRM solution that is easy to navigate and organizes client information well. The top tabs are easy to read and click to get to the text fields and customer information you need quickly. This CRM software is capable of tracking client interactions and filing records of those activities so you can review or run a report of the data later. The Zoho CRM application isn’t capable of real-time sharing with other employees or departments, or creating and sending invoices. However, Zoho has other business software solutions that you can purchase that will integrate with the CRM and give you those additional tools.
Even though it is a customer relation management program, Zoho comes with a number of good sales and marketing tools. With this program you can forecast the success of your marketing campaign, create and send email marketing materials and track your competition. Zoho can run several different reports, such as purchasing and vendor reports. It will also use the reports to suggest sales strategies and workflow automation.
Zoho has tools to help you track employee productivity, performance and quality of client interactions. This information is invaluable in recognizing and retaining good employees and finding those broken links that may end up costing you money. The software has the ability to upload and share files, including documents. This can help you create a nice library for your employees to refer to if they need refreshers about certain procedures or company policies.
The Zoho interface is very simple, non-cluttered and easy to navigate. Even if you have never had experience with CRM software before, this software is pretty straightforward. It includes a help button within the application in case you need a question answered quickly. If you need more in-depth help, Zoho has a FAQs section on its website along with phone numbers and email address for contacting customer support directly. There is also a live chat feature available that connects you with professional staff that is eager to help you.
SugarCRM is a trusted contact relations management software program that is used by companies like ThyssenKrupp and Hillel. With a convenient mobile app that quickly connects you to your client and organization information, this cloud-based CRM solution allows you to work through your sales and project goals while in the office or on the go.
SugarCRM has most of the functions you would expect from CRM software. You can import data from any existing file into SugarCRM. It has email integration that allows you to email clients from right within the application without needing to open an additional program and toggle between the two. The customer account portals let you record and keep track of all client interactions, including timelines. You can upload documents, such as user agreements and invoices, and attach them to client profiles so they are easily accessible later. SugarCRM has real-time sharing, so multiple department and employees can connect to the same client portal at the same time, even if the information needs to be accessed for difference projects or activities.
One tool that is not included with SugarCRM is a dialer. This means you can’t connect via telephone from right within the application as other CRM solutions allow. You can still use your own phone and input notes and other information into SugarCRM as you talk with clients and vendors.
SugarCRM includes sales and marketing solutions as part of its CRM software. This program helps with sales collaboration and order tracking, and it generates sales quotes. With all the information it can store, SugarCRM is also able to create in-depth reports so you can better forecast the success of various marketing campaigns or see the sales success of your teams. SugarCRM does lack some tools, such as competitor tracking and the ability to create and send email marketing campaigns.
Many of the tools included with SugarCRM double as a great way to keep track of your employees’ workflow and performance. You can use this software to see which projects each employee is assigned to and follow his or her interactions with your clients. The document management features let you upload and create a knowledgebase so your employees can review company policies and procedures, which helps reduce costly mistakes. SugarCRM also lets you create individual employee profiles and create a company-specific social network so everyone can see the accomplishments of each worker or team.
While SugarCRM doesn’t have a lot of helps within the software itself, it is really easy to navigate and figure out without much help. If you do find that you need a little more guidance, SugarCRM has tutorials and a FAQs section on its website. It also has email addresses and phone numbers listed online so you can connect with live tech support.
While the TeamWox CRM solution ranks high for all the customer relations management tools that are included, it lacks some sales and marketing tools that are found in the best CRM software. Additionally, TeamWox seems to work like a souped-up address book rather than a true CRM solution. Nevertheless, it still has some good features and tools that will help you connect with your customers and bring a little more transparency to your organization, especially if you are still working with giant spreadsheets of contact information.
TeamWox has a wide array of tools that will help you move your customer relationship tracking to its system, including email integration and tools that import your contact lists. TeamWox can help you keep track of all of your contacts with ease. It has tools to help you connect quickly with clients from right within the CRM application, including sending and receiving email and using an internal dialer to make phone calls.
While you can track a great deal of information about your customers and contacts with TeamWox, it does lack many modern integrations, such as the ability to track your contacts’ social networking profiles and print maps with directions to their address through a service like Google Maps. TeamWox does link contacts together and create groups to keep track of several customers in a similar area, and you can pull up every action with them that you’ve recorded with TeamWox’s contact history function.
TeamWox analyzes and reports on the processes that are executed in the application specifically, but that’s about where its marketing functionality ends. You can’t create email campaigns or print customized stationery. We would love to see automated email campaigns from TeamWox.
While this application isn’t difficult to use, the interface behind TeamWox’s CRM software feels dated and clunky. That’s not to say we had a hard time using it – everything is neatly labeled and navigation is simple – it just wasn’t a very pleasant experience while we used it.
TeamWox provides a great deal of helpful information in its FAQs and tutorials, so you’ll be well prepared to use the software. If you have a question that isn’t answered by these resources, you can get personalized support via email or telephone.
Contact Plus is a simple, on-premise CRM solution that doesn’t have a lot of advanced features and functions that are typically found in the best CRM software. However, its applications are clean and include all the basic needs for contact management software, including email integration, customer portals and dialing capabilities.
This CRM interface is a standalone program that can connect with your email program to import contact information. You can then generate leads and create and send emails from within Contact Plus. Though it is very simple and very plain, Contact Plus does includes several great sales applications in addition to the basic CRM functions. You can create and send email marketing campaigns, follow leads and track orders as they progress through the sales timeline. Since each department can connect to and view the same data within CRM, they can watch each project and manage their part to ensure completion. The group calendar helps everyone meet company goals on time.
You can use the U.S. map feature to pinpoint where your customer is located, including which time zone, so you can schedule phone meetings and online chats at times that are convenient for them and you. Seeing where all of your clients are located can also help you determine localized marketing strategies and see where your clients are in relation to both your location and your competitors’ location.
In order to view the sections of Contact Plus you need, you must first click on the appropriate tab. The tab, or task bar located at the top of the view screen, has only enough room to show 11 tabs at a time. An additional tab will let you scroll to the next tab page and see additional functions. However, it is difficult to keep track of which tab page you need for each function, and it’s inconvenient to flip pages each time you need to record a quote, launch an email campaign or dial out.
Prophet is a good CRM software solution that integrates with your Outlook email program. Most of the CRM software products we reviewed also integrate with email programs; however, Prophet is the only one that you use inside your email program. This means you don’t need to toggle between your CRM software and your email program since it is all nicely organized within Outlook.
Prophet has all the necessary functions you need and expect in customer relations management software. This includes customer account portals, customer interaction tracking and data importing. Prophet also includes other functions for creating email marketing campaigns, company profiling, tracking sales and employee performance reviews at no additional cost to you.
Under the Products/Services tab, Prophet lets you connect purchased products and service calls to each of your clients. This information is available to other employees who can help track client interactions and ensure quality sales and customer service. Each project can be assigned to a specific employee and then tracked to make sure promised calls are returned or IT issues quickly resolved.
Using the Report Manager, you can compile company and client data into reports such as account sales, opportunities, pipeline forecasts and win/loss comparisons. These reports help you determine more aggressive marketing strategies, view company progress and even track your competition and its influence on your future forecasts.
Even though Prophet is run inside your Outlook program, this CRM software is still cloud-based, so your data is secured on the Prophet servers with IT professionals monitoring and keeping it safe 24/7. This eliminates the need for you to invest in extra security software, computer hardware and IT personnel. You can access your client and company information on the go with the Prophet CRM mobile app.
Since Prophet works within Outlook, it isn’t too difficult use, although at first it is difficult to figure out where each folder and function is located. The CRM tools look like other Outlook folders, so if you are used to working with stand-alone CRM solutions, Prophet may seem very basic in its design and functionality.
Prophet does have support options available if you need a little extra help. Online tutorials are easy to follow and the FAQs section has answers to many common questions. Once you familiarize yourself with the program, Prophet is quite simple to use.
Prophet isn’t available through social media, such as Twitter or Facebook, and it doesn’t have a live chat option available. You can, however, contact support personnel through email and via telephone. We found that our questions were answered quickly and politely when we contacted Prophet.