If your business is looking to make the most of a limited marketing budget, it’s crucial to target your messages to your different markets as much as possible. Sales 101 intro over, the question then becomes what is the best way of actually doing this?
Web-based CRM Systems are becoming an essential feature of all business marketing plans as a way of keeping your myriads of client data up-to-date, and by keeping track of which marketing campaigns work well and which ones bomb.
While implementing a CRM is all well and good to discuss, getting into a meeting room with a CRM company, hearing their exciting pitch and fainting when they tell you the cost of personalising their software to your company is something most businesses, particularly small businesses, prefer to avoid.
An alternative to buying your own CRM System is to go to the cloud. Online CRMs work well for small businesses because they’re easy to implement, cost-effective and you don’t need your own massive servers to store all of your growing data- they keep it all for you via the inter-webs.
It will still take a bit of time to get all your data uploaded, but once that’s done you’re ready to send flyers to all your contacts over the age of 60, email all your contacts over the age of 25 and Facebook all of your contacts over the age of 9.
Payment-wise there are usually various amounts you can pay per month or per year, depending on how in-depth you’d like your cloud-based service.
Usually online CRM companies will charge you per user, so it’s important you initially figure out who in your team is likely to hang around for the next few years. If someone in your company who is a nominated subscriber does leave, it’s usually no drama to change over the name on your account, or simply pretend to be them Facebook-hack style.
So if you’re sold on a software as a service (SaaS) solution, what are the best online CRM companies out there?
WiredContact is a UK-based hosted CRM company that prides itself on UK-based support whenever you need to get in touch with them.
Its service offers the usual CRM tools such as managing and reporting on leads, sales opportunities, the activities of all of your sales reps and reports on your won / lost / pending ratios.
A nice touch to WiredConnect’s service is that you can easily tailor your interface to suit your business. By providing standard HTML-based templates you can alter the look and feel of your platform and choose from a range of custom views to suit your eccentric tastes.
Unlike some other CRM providers, WiredConnect will let you use your own servers to host data if you prefer which is one way to keep your fees down.
The more licences your company buys, the lower the cost for each licence, so 1-4 licences will set you back around £278 per user, per year, but 10+ licences will cost a noticeably less £174 per user, per year.
4. Lunar CRM
Lunar CRM may not be the biggest online CRM name in the business, but it’s local based in Coventry rather than California, and it’s small enough to still provide quite a personalised service as opposed to bigger US online CRM providers like ZohoCRM (which on a side note, I’ve not included in this list due to its ridiculous extra storage costs)
While it’s small, Lunar CRM offers a product to rival the big boys with the ability to compare suppliers and their product performance, breakdown your relationship with different customers and see which staff are doing a cracking job at selling ice to the Eskimos.
If something off the shelf isn’t exactly what your business needs, Lunar CRM can also design and build a bespoke system to fit your difficult needs, and also offers technical support 24/7.
Because they’re so boutique, you will have to contact them directly for a quote but we hear they’re priced in a similar vein to Salesforce.
SugarCRM is one of those Californian-based companies, but has a UK branch Sugar UK supporting its service across the Atlantic. Sugar UK has engineers based in picturesque Surrey so support time differences won’t be a problem.
If you’re looking at a bit of a combo package, SugarCRM is an online CRM system that can bundle a VoIP phone system to integrate your company’s communication with customers directly into SugarCRM.
This means you can access features including click-to-dial and recorded-call logging. It also saves you money on an expensive PBX with everything hosted and managed on the network.
There are three different editions you can subscribe to, starting with the “Community” plan which is at the very reasonable cost of free. You do get what you pay for though and for a CRM system comparable to others on the market, you will probably want the next cheapest “Professional” plan at £235 per user per month.
For the extra cash you will get features like manual Outlook integration, sales forecasting, market analysis and field-level security. If you pay around double that amount for the “Enterprise” plan, you get some cool Android, iPhone and Blackberry apps at your fingertips plus a few other nifty features.
2. Open CRM
Open CRM is another online system option for your business, and what makes this company interesting is that regardless of your subscription level, all customers have access to all of Open CRM’s available features.
There is no disabled functionality so you’re never compelled to upgrade your account, or change your business strategy to fit within a set of limiting features so often associated with a cheap-option plan.
What Open CRM has going for it is incredibly competitive pricing. Ten users each with 10GB data storage and a ridiculous 2TB file storage will set you back £125 per month or £1500 per annum. Compared to big guns Salesforce.com, 10 users with 1GB data storage and 6GB file storage starts at £450 a month or £5400 per year.
While that may seem like an unnecessary amount of storage, the guys over at Open CRM take the view that as a business your storage needs will only ever grow, so any additional storage costs should be considered from the start.
If you somehow find your terabytes a bit too limiting, you can increase your data storage allocation with an additional 500GB for £15 per month, or 1TB for £25.00 per month, or if you’ve got high-res videos of every single person in your database, an extra 1.5TB will set you back £32.00.
One company that has done a very good job getting itself known in the market is Salesforce. The fact that its targeted marketing works so well is indicative of how good their systems are.
Apart from its standard CRM offerings, Salesforce.com has a number of cloud apps and platforms to help businesses keep on top of the game when it comes to interacting with potential customers.
It provides a private social network for your business called “Chatter”, a means to monitor your social media engagement called “Radian6”, as well as the world’s first enterprise cloud database, creatively called “Database.com”.
Salesforce.com has a swag of impressive clients making use of its services including O2, Boots, Confused.com and even the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.
For an entry-level very basic system, you only need to fork out £10.20 per user, per month, but the £45 per user per month offers a wealth more of the standard CRM options your business will most likely benefit from.