Salesforce.com is the recognized leader in cloud CRM solutions — and for good reason. One of the first SaaS-based customer relationship management (CRM) products on the market, Salesforce offers an easy-to-use tool with deep sales force automation (SFA) functionality. It’s a great solution for many companies, but buyers like options. And guess what? There's some great alternatives to Salesforce out there. So what other systems should you add to your CRM shortlist?
Here I conduct a cloud-based CRM software comparison and recommend five cloud CRM products that are worth testing.
Microsoft Dynamics vs. Salesforce
Analysts and end-users alike consistently rank Dynamics CRM among the top products available on the market. With the latest release of Dynamics CRM 2011, Microsoft has made a credible move onto Salesforce’s turf.
Dynamics CRM is a flexible system built on the .Net platform. It’s great for companies already committed to the Microsoft stack. The system has a familiar Outlook-like interface and can be easily customized to fit the needs of your organization. Also, Microsoft has an extensive network of partners, resellers and ISVs with expertise in developing customized and vertical solutions for specific industries.
Dynamics CRM 2011 made some notable improvements over previous versions, making it a strong Salesforce alternative. My favorites include the improved UI and customizable dashboards. Users can navigate the system with fewer clicks and can personalize their view based on their role. The update also includes the built-in Dynamics Marketplace, a network of vendors that provides more than 1,400 add-on products and services.
One concern with Dynamics CRM used to be that updates only came out every three years. No longer. Microsoft recently announced bi-annual updates.
Do you use Microsoft Dynamics CRM? Write a review »
NetSuite vs. Salesforce
NetSuite’s OneWorld is the company’s first CRM suite designed for complex sales organizations with a global reach. It offers unlimited users, modules, third-party apps and storage, making it easy for organizations of any size to easily scale the solution to fit their changing needs.
For a while now, NetSuite has been trying to enter the Social CRM mix. It seems like it may have a way in with its Yammer partnership. The integration of Yammer with NetSuite’s SocialSuite adds internal collaboration its CRM offering. Users can create, monitor and respond to activity streams, making it easy to interact and discuss over a common platform.
Given NetSuite’s core strength in accounting and ERP, it has built its CRM product with a central focus on order management and the financial processes that relate to a sale. It has remained focused on this integrated-suite story, using it as the foundation for all innovations. If you go with NetSuite, you can expect a solid, integrated application, with great tools for sales and service automation.
Oracle vs. Salesforce
Oracle acquired CRM leader Siebel Systems, and through that deal gained Siebel’s powerful CRM On Demand. Oracle has continued to invest in that product line, and today it offers a credible cloud solution. The system offers most of the capabilities you would expect to find in an enterprise-level CRM system, but at a price and delivery model comparable to Salesforce or Dynamics CRM. It stands out for its industry-specific solutions and pre-built integration with Oracle back-office systems. Oracle users will benefit from the familiar interface and ease of integration that comes with the system.
At last year’s OpenWorld conference, Oracle announced the release of CRM On Demand 18, a hosted solution with a single-tenant architecture. This stands in comparison to Salesforce’s multi-tenant offering. The single-tenant model gives each client their own dedicated software and hardware stack. With multi-tenant, users share application servers and databases. There is a debate as to which model is best, but for buyers with a single-tenant bias, Oracle CRM On Demand is worth a look.
Oracle’s latest release targets the missing link in most CRM systems: alignment of sales and marketing. Oracle bought Market2Lead in 2010, introducing marketing automation to their stack. Sales and marketing users benefit from shared KPIs, helping them to understand how lead generation and nurturing activities directly affect sales. Previously, Oracle customers had to pay for a third-party marketing automation app to get these capabilities. With this addition, users can access these features from one integrated system that is offered at an attractive price point.
Sage SalesLogix vs. Salesforce
Sage offers multiple CRM solutions, but SalesLogix is their premium offering. Released in 2002 as a sales force automation solution for mid-market organizations, SalesLogix has been enhanced over time, with added service and marketing capabilities. It is now a comprehensive and feature-rich CRM product used by over 6 million customers worldwide.
SalesLogix’s legacy strength is in sales force automation, but its capabilities extend to campaign management, revenue tracking, campaign reporting, and workflow automation. One of my favorite features is the product’s mobile deployment options. Users can access contacts, accounts, opportunities, etc., all from their mobile phone. Also, the app is free for any smart phone platform.
Although targeted at mid-sized organizations, SalesLogix offers support for international organizations, making it a strong consideration for global enterprises. SalesLogix is sold by a network of more than 26,000 Sage partners worldwide and can be deployed in the cloud or on-premise.
Do you use Sage SalesLogix? Write a review »
SugarCRM vs. Salesforce
SugarCRM is the most popular open source CRM software available on the market. While many companies are looking for an out-of-the-box complete application, others are more interested in a system that can be tailored to meet their specific needs. SugarCRM’s open source model provides a basic CRM platform that companies can build upon using their own IT resources or add-on products available through SugarCRM’s developer communities.
SugarCRM allows for a more personalized customer experience. There are multiple dashboards that can be customized based on your role or what metrics you need to track. There is also a “wizard” tool that assists with the on-boarding process for new users. With automated tips and instructions, newbies feel less overwhelmed by the system and have an easier time learning the basic ins and outs.
SugarCRM is competitive in terms of features for basic sales, service and marketing activities, but where it really stands out is on price. The most basic offering is free to download. There are also the Professional CRM and Enterprise CRM editions that start at $30 and $50 per user, per year, respectively. This makes SugarCRM one of the most cost-effective CRM options available.
Do you use SugarCRM? Write a review »
Check out each one of these products and see if they might be a good fit for your CRM software needs. Are there other Salesforce competitors that you think others should consider? Chime into the conversation by commenting below.
Salesforce.com is a leading CRM provider, but choosing enterprise software is an extremely important decision that should be well-researched. Just because one system works for someone else doesn’t mean it’s the best fit for you. For more help with your software selection process, download our guide below.