Hesam Seyed Mousavi, April 6, 2014
You may be surprised to find out what many customer relationship management (CRM) or call center software venders don’t tell you upfront when it comes to the cost of their system. To help you avoid unpleasant surprises or sticker shock, we put together a list of four common hidden costs of CRM software. Be sure to ask about these costs upfront so you know exactly what you’re getting into.
Importing Data. Unless you’re a start-up company, it’s very likely you have contact data you’d like to import into your new contact management software or CRM system. But you’re probably not expecting to spend time manually importing all these contacts. However, having a vendor or consultant do that for you will likely end up costing you extra money. Most CRM or call center software packages do not include the process of migrating existing data.
Support. Many standard CRM subscriptions include only limited or basic support. If you want a Premium Support package, you’ll have to pay for it. Premium support upgrades can really add up, tacking on an additional $150 or more per user each year. When comparing vendors, it is critical to ask about support costs ahead of time.
Customization. The more complex or customized you need your CRM system to be, the more it’s going to cost. That said, it’s in your best interest to limit the number of customizations and find a CRM or contact center software that meets most of your needs right out of the box. This may mean sitting through more product demos, but it is well worth it in the end.
Contract Terms. Many CRM vendors make you commit to one year without a refund if you back out early. Instead, you may want to consider a vendor who can offer shorter trial periods or (better yet) free trials.
What Does CRM Actually Cost?
Trying to determine actual CRM cost for your business can be a daunting task. In a perfect world, every vendor would clearly list their prices with a per-user breakdown. This isn’t a perfect world, and not all vendors are completely forthcoming about their prices. For someone who is trying to calculate CRM cost, this can be especially problematic. On top of that, the initial CRM cost can vary widely, depending on your region, optional features, additional equipment, and bulk discounts.
The only way to determine an exact price for many vendors is to speak with them directly, often at great length. For someone doing preliminary CRM research, who just wants to get a basic idea of CRM cost, that investment of time can be irritating. To help get you started, we’ve collected a general pricing guide for many of the top CRM vendors. While not complete, this guide should provide some idea of what an initial CRM investment might be. The prices listed below are generally for the most full-featured packages offered, because buying CRM that is missing features out of the box usually defeats the purpose.
CRM Vendor Pricing
One of the more forthcoming providers, Salesforce provides a straightforward, per-user pricing scheme for all of their versions.
Update: Salesforce recently changed the name and price of it’s top-tier plan. Previously the “Unlimited” plan was $250/month/user and has been replaced with the “Performance” plan that costs $300/month/user.
Their top three versions are:
- Performance: $300/month/user
- Enterprise: $125/month/user
- Professional: $65/month/user
Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Update: For Microsoft CRM Dynamics Online 2013, there are now three clearly defined subscription tiers. They are:
- Professional: $65/month/user
- Basic: $30/month/user
- Essential: $15/month/user
SAP is also somewhat ambiguous about their pricing for CRM. This may be because they don’t offer a stand-alone CRM system. When calculating CRM cost for SAP, remember that you’ll also have to pay for their ERP, along with any modules you need for additional functionality. SAP prices are arranged according to the level of access granted to each user. The three top tiers are:
- Enterprise SCM: $199/month/user
- Enterprise Standard: $149/month/user
- Team User CRM Sales: $89/month/user
It’s also worth noting that SAP requires a minimum of 15 user subscriptions.
Oracle doesn’t provide pricing information on their website. They do, however, provide a downloadable price sheet. Unfortunately, every price is listed as “Per Quotation.” Searching online, various sources put their starting price point at:
- Oracle CRM On Demand: $75/month/user
Sugar has three different paid options, all of which are clearly priced. Update: Sugar recently introduced the concept of PurePrice™, which means “no hidden fees or forced upgrades”.
- Ultimate: $150/month/user
- Enterprise: $60/month/user
- Corporate: $35/month/user
These prices depend on an annual subscription with a minimum of five users.
Sage CRM offers two packages to choose from. The first, Sage CRM Cloud Professional, is a cloud-based CRM system with standard per-user pricing. Their second package, Sage CRM On-Premise, can only be priced by speaking directly with a sales representative.
- Sage CRM Cloud Professional: $45/month/user
Infusionsoft offers four different CRM packages with clear, per-user rates. Two of their packages are priced at the same rate, with one being geared toward businesses with a focus on online sales and the other toward businesses with more traditional sales outlets. Infusionsoft prominently displays their prices on their website, and even includes a cost calculator that allows you to add features and see your actual upfront CRM cost.
- Complete: $76/month/user
- Deluxe E-Commerce: $75/month/user
- Deluxe Sales: $75/month/user
Netsuite CRM+ is a SaaS solution. Netsuite doesn’t offer an on-premise solution, and they only offer one CRM package. There are no prices listed on the Netsuite website; however, various sources list their package and pricing as follows:
- CRM+: $129/month/user
Zoho is one of a handful of vendors that lists a free version on their website. Of course, in the world of CRM, nothing is truly free. Their paid versions are:
- Enterprise: $35/month/user
- Professional: $20/month/user
- Standard: $12/month/user
Zoho also includes a ten-percent discount for yearly subscriptions.
Nimble also offers a free plan, though it is intended for personal users. For business and enterprise users, they offer a simple per-user pricing structure:
- Business: $15/month/user
Goldmine doesn’t list a per-user price for their CRM service. Instead, they offer bundles of three or five users. The bundle prices only apply to new or upgraded seats, and they offer no indication of the cost to add more seats to an existing contract.
- 5 User Bundle: $50/month/user
- 3 User Bundle: $47/month/user
Getting What You Pay For
It’s important to note that these prices are accurate as of this article’s publication date, and vendors may update products and pricing at any time. While the monthly per-user cost is an important consideration, there are many other factors that are part of the CRM selection process. Many vendors don’t include initial startup costs, maintenance fees, and other hidden expenses into the per-user charge. The best way to know exactly how much your overall CRM cost will be is by contacting the vendors and requesting a quote.