There is no dearth of CRM products available in the market, either on desktops or delivered on the cloud. A simple search can throw up more than 200 product names. Most are “me-too” products, the CRM is not a new concept.
To a prospective user of a CRM system, all this choice spells confusion. It really comes from the lack of exactness of what really is a CRM system.
Whether the CRM system is deployed via the desktop/ intranet or over the internet using the SaaS model, most common CRM softwares will have one or more of the components shown above.
Campaign manager: Manages the setting up of (marketing) campaigns, targeting a list of customer contacts who will be targets of a particular marketing message; be it product promotion or communication regarding a new capability.
Sales Force Automation: Manages the logging of customer activities, whether in response to a campaign or otherwise, creates and manages “deals” and essentially manages the sales funnel.
Content Manager: Rarely seen in low-end systems, this integrates web-publishing with other communication (like e-mail newsletter) so that information sent to the customer, from whatever source, is always current and same irrespective of media.
1. Quote making (optionally backed by a quote configurator)
2. E-mail engine (backed by a template repository; optionally a template generator). A template is basically a HTML page that is created and stored in the system, for use in communicating to customers. Different types of communication may have different templates.
3. Order acknowledgement: (optionally linked to the ERP system for committing delivery time at the time of acknowledging the PO).
4. Analytics and reporting engine: Extracts data from the profile and activities of contacts and accounts and reports on trends and status.
For a small to medium size operation, (upto 40 front-line sales execs) I do not expect that you will need all of the above functionalities. What do you currently use?