Not totally sure if using this forum for this purpose is frowned upon but I thought I would try it as a way to start a debate focussed less on simply reviewing current market offerings and more on looking at what customers want.
We are currently designing a customer relationship management / Sales Team Management package (nothing to show yet) aimed at Small and Medium businesses who want something more aimed at maximising sales effort rather than just a fancy version of MS Access or at the other end of the spectrum something like salesforce.com that can be really overwhelming if you aren't a Fortune 500 company.
I read the recent question about recommending peoples favourite CRM package (a real popular thread) but though I would take it in another direction:
So, I thought I would ask the general question that rather than which package do you use and what does it do well (or not), "looking solely at your business, what do you look for in a CSM/sales software package? What functionality is key for your business? How much customisation do you use? How much customisation is too much or too little? Is there anything that you feel isn't offered by the current market incumbents? "
To also help focus this wide ranging question, I will also give some options that people can rank in terms of importance:
At Blue Fish, we have used Salesforce.com for about 5 years. We didn't do a full evaluation of the options, we just went with the product that our sales guy was familiar with at the time. Over the years, we've evolved how we use it.
We use salesforce in two primary ways:
We don't really use salesforce's marketing modules that much. Occasionally, we will create a campaign and attach leads to it when we send them an email or when they attend a webinar, etc. But we primarily use salesforce day-in and day-out for tracking sales activities
The things that are most important to us NOW are:
The things that were most important to us WHEN WE WERE STARTING OUT were:
The things I don't like about salesforce are:
To answer your specific question about ranking features, here are my thoughts (in order of importance):
I have been researching CRMs over the last month specifically for order/quote management. I am nontechnical. I looked at SugarCRM, VTiger, Zoho CRM, Salesforce.com, [email protected], NetSuite. I am presently using Outlook Business Contact Manager which is not really a CRM. I plan to switch to Zoho CRM (as it is free) and use a SasS platform for order/quotes. This is what I looked for.
Polling can be done on Linkedin.
Allow me to quote something from an essay I wrote about branding in todays landscape.
It used to be that if you had a bad experience with a company or a specific product you might tell your friends and family. These friends and family members might or might not be in the market for the same product as you. Criticism would exist in relative obscurity until it would eventually die out as your frustration couldn’t be channeled anywhere. Now, because people are connected as much on an affinity level as by geography, a company’s customers can be connected around a product without the company ever being aware of it. This leads to the emergence of what we could call crowd campaigning. Now the customers themselves can initiate campaigns that either hurt or help you...." and a little later *"Competition is no longer just happening between brands, it’s also happening between brands and customers. Perhaps even with time between customers of competing brands. In other words your potential competitors and marketing department can be every guy and girl armed with a Twitter or FaceBook account who is not afraid to use it." I think the real trick is to look for the stuff we don't know we don't know.
So a good CRM platform will not only look at your relationship with customers you know by name and email address but instead they will look for what customers you didn't know you didn't know says about you.
Hence the term Social-CRM by companys like Lithium