Solution Providers Honored With 1st CRMGuru Summit Awards


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When it comes to CRM solutions, customers, more than anything, want a product that works for them, simply, easily and for the bulk of their business needs. CRM customers and vendor partners made that abundantly clear in a comprehensive online survey conducted by

Based on the results of that survey, we are proud to announce the honorees of the first CRMGuru Summit Awards for CRM Solution Excellence. These CRM solution providers led in seven categories:

  • Large Enterprise Multi-Function CRM: Oracle’s PeopleSoft CRM
  • Small-Medium Business Multi-Function CRM: Onyx
  • Marketing Automation: SPSS
  • Sales Force Automation:
  • Customer Service and Support: RightNow Technologies
  • Contact Management: Maximizer Software
  • Partner Relationships: Sage CRM (formerly ACCPAC CRM)

“This year’s CRMGuru Summit Award recipients are setting the example for other vendors to follow by practicing the principles of effective CRM,” said Bob Thompson, CEO of CustomerThink Corp. and founder of The selections were based on a survey of customers, partners and peers. “They realize that successful relationships involve more than the just features and functions. Each category winner also scored well in indicators of customer satisfaction, loyalty and project success,” Thompson said.

Vendors were categorized based on predominant profile of the size (small, medium or large) and application usage (marketing sales or service) of their customers. members are clear about the choices they made. They not only rated vendors they purchased from or partnered with, but also they were vocal about why they made their selections. You can tell that the survey takers had enough experience with less successful solutions before they arrived at a winning system.

“This is a solution in which the programmers have backed off from trying to tell me how to run my business and have given me an assistant that is faithfully there to provide quality service in whatever way I require from a software solution,” said one user about Maximizer Software’s contact management system.

“They are constantly improving the product and are extremely open-minded to feedback from their customers,” raved another customer about RightNow Technologies.

And they repeated the phrases, “ease of use,” “functionality,” “flexibility” and “ease of integration.” Short but succinct, these short-hand comments said a mouthful.

Vendors welcomed that type of reaction.

“I love the fact that you’re asking real customers real questions and using scientific survey methods to be able to evaluate the results and pick a winner,” said Dyke Hensen, senior vice president for marketing at SPSS, which led in the marketing automation category. “At the end of the day, it’s not the opinion of one or two but the opinion of the group that carries.” SPSS was honored for marketing automation over E.piphany, SAS, Unica and the marketing automation portion of all multi-function vendors.

“SPSS earned the highest CRQI score overall, thanks to truly outstanding ratings for project success and customer loyalty,” CRMGuru’s Thompson said.

The CustomerThink Relationship Quality Index is a composite score from zero to 100, 40 percent of which is derived from the CRM solution ratings and 60 percent calculated from questions about customer satisfaction; loyalty; and project success and return on investment.

As one person taking the survey commented, “The bulk of the CRM vendors, sadly, have very naive templated solutions that have traded ‘each of use’ (wizards, etc.) for a homogenous, simplistic, and dangerously misleading analytic tools embedded in their systems. ”

Partner relationships

“I think it’s great. Fantastic,” said Jim Foster, executive vice president in Sage Software’s Mid-Market Division. Sage CRM (rebranded from ACCPAC CRM) was honored in the special category of partner relationships, which was determined by including only responses from consultants, integrators and resellers. And true to form, Foster paid tribute to’s chairman and CEO, Marc Benioff, who, he said, “has done a great job of making the public aware of what CRM offers. We’re riding that tide, as well.” He continued, however, “We just think we’ve got a better offering, in terms of rent-to-own that, I don’t think, others have to offer.”

One survey-taker spoke to that positioning, calling ACCPAC CRM “quite simply a small organization with a big-time product” and saying that the acquisition by Best Software (now Sage) “is really going to expose this product to people with no idea who ACCPAC was.” Others lauded the solution’s flexibility and “robust configuration.”’s Benioff said he was “thrilled” to accept the award in the sales force automation category. bested SalesLogix and the sales force automation portion of all multi-function vendors. Benioff said the company’s 15,500 “phenomenally successful” customers “have figured out what the enterprise software industry still doesn’t get, that you shouldn’t have to change your business to accommodate your CRM.”

Customer service focus

“This is certainly exciting for us,” said Robb Eklund, vice president, CRM product marketing, at Oracle, which made news in 2004 for its ultimately successful bid to take over PeopleSoft. Oracle’s PeopleSoft CRM solution led the rankings in the large enterprise multi-function CRM category, over a field that included Oracle’s own brand, SAP and Siebel Systems. “I think these awards are a testament to the success of our information-driven approach to CRM and our continuing commitment to PeopleSoft solutions,” Eklund said.

Users rating Oracle’s PeopleSoft CRM in the CRMGuru survey seemed to agree, writing in such comments as, “PeopleSoft focuses on their own relationships with their customers and works very hard to make them happy,” and the “vendor listens to its customers.” Those surveyed noted PeopleSoft’s “360-degree view of the consumer”; the application’s ease of use; its scalability; and its ease of customization.

In the small-medium business multi-function CRM category, Onyx topped Sage CRM, Microsoft CRM, Pivotal and the SMB portion of large enterprise multi-function vendors.

“This is a great honor for us because we’ve always prided ourselves on working closely with our customers to ensure their success,” said Patrick Angelel, Onyx vice president of marketing. “Onyx customers tend to tackle very complex problems that often involve aligning customer processes across multiple departments and disparate systems.”

In fact, one survey respondent praised Onyx for “constantly building innovative solutions” and for keeping “on top of the industry to implement new technology quickly.”

RightNow led the customer service and support category in a field that included Avaya, Clarify and the customer service and support portion of all multi-function vendors.

“RightNow’s primary focus since inception has been customer service and support automation. This makes sense because most customer interactions occur in the service organization and require focus,” said Greg Gianforte, RightNow CEO, president, chairman and founder. He went on to say, “RightNow does a number of things really unique in terms of customer value creation,” citing the free “tune-ups”—90-minute phone calls reviewing how the customers are using the solution; quality measurements; and the Customer Success Index the company has put in place.

Tom Bennett, Maximizer Software’s chief technology officer and one of its two presidents, said he was pleased that the company’s contact management solution was a hit with CRMGuru members. “Over the past 18 years, I’ve made listening to our customers a priority so that we continue to respond with award-winning products that are affordable, have the appropriate functionality, are quick to deploy and are easy for our customers to use, he said. “When you can do all of this over and over again, then your customers become very loyal.” Maximizer aims at affordable solutions for the small and medium-size market. Its solution ranked higher than Act! and Goldmine in the contact management category.

“Earning a CRMGuru Summit Award for CRM Solution Excellence is akin to winning professional golf’s U.S. Open (without the tricked up greens): a tough test designed to identify the best of the best, because the only thing that counts is statistically valid input from vendor stakeholders,” said CRMGuru’s Thompson. “Sure, the best vendors offer strong technology solutions. But the features war is over. The secret to the award winners’ success lies in the health of their relationships with customers, users and partners, and the return on investment they deliver.”

A detailed report is available for purchase at

Gwynne Young
Independent Contractor
Gwynne Young is a former newspaper writer, columnist and copy editor who has managed online content for several companies, including and Gartner. She has a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.


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