Are you still using ACT, Saleslogix or some other type of technology developed in the 1980s or 1990s? We often hear from sales VPs in that position who say they’re thinking of doing something different. Specifically, they’re wondering if it’s time to embrace SaaS-based CRM in the form of Salesforce.com or Oracle CRM On Demand.
This is a good question, albeit with one caveat: The most important success factor for CRM is not your technology. Nothing is more important than having a good plan, knowing your desired business outcomes in advance and then vigorously pursuing each one in phases.
CRM: Only 3 Choices
On to software: What should you select?
If your organization is not in the pharmaceutical, medical device or biotechnology industry, then there are only three names to consider:
- Oracle CRM On Demand
- Microsoft CRM
Those are the players, and frankly I don’t think it makes any sense to evaluate anything else. The above software is all priced appropriately—based on company size, user base, and so on—although some are more or less expensive than the others.
What about using SAP for CRM? Well, if you’re already got SAP, and 1,000 people using it everyday for manufacturing and accounting, and your CRM concerns hew more toward order entry and finance-related activities, then you should probably add SAP to your evaluation list. If you’re not an SAP shop, however, don’t consider it.
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FIVE CRM Considerations
When evaluating the above software, factor in—as appropriate—the following concerns:
- Integration: Both Salesforce.com and Oracle handle integration well, including with smartphones and BlackBerries; Microsoft CRM does not. For specific integration tools, consider Pyxis Mobile.
- Oracle integration: Oracle offers prebuilt connectors to integrate Oracle CRM On Demand with Oracle Financials, JD Edwards, and so on, which creates an easy path to almost any on-premise Oracle software. For example, Akamai uses on-premise Siebel CRM for its call center, and Oracle CRM On Demand for its sales force, and integrating the two was relatively easy, thanks to their shared data models. (Side note: Oracle CRM On Demand also ships with more prebuilt analytics tools and dashboards than Salesforce.com.)
- Microsoft tie-ins: Consider Microsoft CRM, a relatively simple, good and lightweight tool, if you want tight integration into the Microsoft framework—namely, Exchange. For example, we helped Epson—which already used SAP on the back end—select Microsoft CRM as a simple tool for managing its partners.
- Popularity: Adopting Salesforce.com, the most popular CRM software on the market, means you get the advantages of working with the market leader: the largest support network, the greatest number of available third-party add-ons (via AppExchange), the most energetic user community, and so on.
- User Interface: Most users think that Salesforce.com has the best look and feel, and thus prefer it, even though it also tends to be the most expensive option.
The above considerations won’t cover every need or requirement, but when it comes to evaluating your CRM software options, it will help get you started.
Not sold on the value of SaaS-based CRM, or are you considering on-premise CRM software? Read a vendor-neutral review of the positives and negatives of on-premise and SaaS CRM applications.