CRM (customer relationship management) software gives an added element of organisation over the handling of client-based activities. This includes sales, support, marketing and orders. It can also extend into areas such as warehouse and stock management. Although many companies already have support systems in place, as well as ordering and billing platforms, control over sales and marketing elements are often a manual affair with little or no direct organisation/structure.
As a sales control mechanism, CRM software is a powerful and highly adaptable tool in chasing leads and maintaining solid links with key clients. Before CRM solutions came into play, it would be down to the business in question to manage new sales and leads manually, with no real structure given to the process. This manual approach to the process also lacked any form of tracking and graphical representation, vital in keeping a balanced overview of the current situation.
So when it comes down to employing the use of such a solution, where do you begin? Well firstly its important to identify what you are looking for from a CRM software platform. As such, this type of software can be split into two groups, online and offline. Offline solutions can still be accessed across the net in some cases, but they are not truely hosted solutions.
An online solution is hosted on a webserver through an HTTP daemon, utilising some form of database. Many CRM vendors will offer this as a standalone platform for installation on your own machine. There are however a number of vendors that offer hosted solutions through their own system. This is ideal for those users without servers suited to such an application.
SalesNexus offer such a solution, which rivals the industry standard ACT! software. This solution is hosted online and can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection, ideal for highly mobile businesses. CenterBase can be hosted on your own servers for added flexibility, with a similar feature set.
ACT! is by far the most popular CRM platform worldwide. Developed by Sage, the global leader in business related software, this is perhaps the most complete blanket solution for all your CRM needs. It does cost considerably more money than an online solution however, and does not offer such a degree of mobile flexibility. Still, it is without doubt the industry standard solution, giving businesses extremely effective control over all CRM-based activities. Users of ACT! also enjoy the benefits of Sage Support.
With all points considered, it doesn’t really make a sizable difference to your CRM program as to what solution you choose to employ for use in your business. Most CRM solutions on the market offer a competitive set of features, meaning the choice really is with the user.