One common complaint about CRM software is that it’s a really expensive Rolodex. Companies pay for a lot of functionality, but feel they mainly end up using the software as a database of contacts.
CRM is no different than other categories of business software – new vendors are popping up, interested in taking a slice of market share from the dominant players like Salesforce. Some are niche – focused on a particular use case or company size – and others aim to be broad.Note: If you are considering ditching your old CRM and trying something new, hold off till you get to the bottom of this article (I have something for you).
Who’s the problem: CRM or user?
To address the Rolodex problem, many new vendors focus on ease of use. Will that solve the problem? Gene Marks, Forbes contributor and author of six business management books, thinks the problem lies not with the CRM systems, but the users themselves, since most CRM software products today have capabilities ranging from sales force automation to marketing automation to help desk management.
“The problem with your CRM isn’t usually your CRM system. It’s about you. It’s the way it’s been set up. It’s the way it’s been implemented. It’s the way it’s managed”, he says
Ginger Conlon, Editor-in-Chief of Direct Marketing News, says the problem is when companies put technology before business process: “If companies that aim to use CRM technologies build their CRM strategy first, they’ll be armed to select the most appropriate tool for their needs. That might be a powerhouse player or a feisty start-up.”
Will the new take over the old in the next few years?
Then, are these newer, easier-to-use CRM software still able to deliver powerful functionality at a price point that works for SMBs? If so, are they poised to take some market share from some of the dominant CRMs?
Not exactly, says Mitch Lieberman, a thought leader and practitioner of CRM, “While SFDC does have a dominant position as a software vendor in the CRM space, the market is still 80% untapped, as most people still use email.” Because “email is still going to be the dominant use case for a few years… where the small vendors will help is to push the innovation envelope and make the big boys move faster and work harder.”
Marshall Lager, an award winning writer and a former senior editor at CRM Media, has a similar viewpoint. “I don’t think any single upstart SMB CRM vendor is equipped to do that, at least without a huge influx of investment capital. But as a group, all of them together are more than capable of holding a significant chunk of the CRM market. They have all the functionality that most small businesses need, and are closer to the problems and desires of their user base. They might not need all the capability and support that comes with a major league CRM provider, and don’t need to spend the subscription money it would entail.”
Or will the old eat the new?
On the other hand, Doc Searl, the author of bestseller Cluetrain Manifesto and The Intention Economy, interviewed a CRM insider who thinks the new CRMs “will be purpose driven and eventually grow independently, but more likely get acquired by the Oracles or Salesforces of the world.”
Denis Pombriant, a well-known CRM and Social CRM analyst says, “the real question for all vendors is how well they play in a platform-centric world… Best of breed solutions will be eclipsed in the future unless they have strong APIs and a good story to tell about how well they behave in a larger platform context.”
So what should I get now?
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- Detailed profiles of 12 CRM software products, including pros & cons as cited in 480+ authenticated end-user reviews
- Key factors to consider and common pitfalls to avoid when selecting and implementing CRM software