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Small Business CRM

Discussion in 'Talking technology' started by Carbonite Australia, Jan 9, 2009.

  1. Carbonite Australia

    Carbonite Australia Member

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    Other than ACT, has anyone else used a good (preferably free) CRM that is desktop based and that can integrate nicely with Outlook. I am currently trying MX Contact (free version) and it seems to be OK. I also tried Salesforce but the free version didn't integrate with Outlook and I found I never kept it up to date. Any other recommendations?

    Arthur Koulianos
    BDM AVG & Carbonite
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2009
  2. LeelaCosgrove

    LeelaCosgrove Member

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    I use Zoho which I really like.

    Not sure about outlook integration, but I thought I read something about it ... so have a look ...
  3. Adam Randall

    Adam Randall Member

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    My thought is that if you want a decent CRM package, then you must be prepared to pay for it.

    We are a very small business and spent in excess of 20K on our CRM or PSA (professional services automation) system, I could not run a business without it now.

    Dont skimp on the systems that run your business, rather than looking at the cost of a system, look at the value it brings to your business.

    If you have found something that does what you want and it cost a little bit of money, I would recommend paying for it.
    1 person likes this.
  4. peppie

    peppie Active Member

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    And you call yourself a "very small business"? An expenditure of about 1% of that would be more realisitic for this "very small business".

    I have looked at CRM before (and always reviewing) but the upfront and ongoing (time and effort) costs don't excite me - unless that is, I can find a application/system that is generally better than something akin to a card file approach.

    I am with you AKoulianos, so just what is available and what does everyone use?? BTW, I don't use Outlook!!
  5. Adam Randall

    Adam Randall Member

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    I know that figure seems high and Im certainly not saying that its the money that needs to be spent here.

    What I am saying is that if someone has found a piece of software that does what they want then spending some money on it is not necessarily a bad thing.

    I sometimes have a hard time reconciling that we are all in business and charge for our time yet when it comes to software, we expect it to assist us in making a profit and at the same time get it for free.

    I am just glad I dont write software for a living.....
  6. peppie

    peppie Active Member

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    It all depends what business you are in as to what warrants the money spent on it.

    I am guessing that 20k on CRM type software/services is reasonable for you and your business, but not for me. I might spend that sort of money of video etc. equipment and editing/processing software, but not on CRM or even something like accounting.

    For me and my kind the actual keeping track of clients and potential clients is not quite such a huge part of promotions work. Although that part of it is important, I have not yet found any sort of CRM package that justifies the time and effort for what I would get out of it. Unless something appears that is not quite so complex and is more suited to a small to moderate client base.
  7. Devan

    Devan Member

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    Arthur,

    We currently use SugarCRM in house. We host the open source version on our own linux box here. To get Outlook connectivity, you have to purchase the SugarNetwork package from them, which allows you to sync emails/contacts with sugar and also do mail mergin with Word etc. I think it was around $150 per user for the SugarNetwork package.

    BTW - I agree with Adam here. I actually DO write software for a living, and I cannot understand the reluctance for some people to pay for software which will make them a profit. We have one client who enthusiastically told us that our software was saving him around $500 per week, and in the same breath said that he thought the $2000 we charged him for it was excessive!!! Hmmm.

    Cheers,
    Devan
  8. Lisa Murray - Biz Coach

    Lisa Murray - Biz Coach Member

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    A colleague of mine recommends LeGrand http://www.legrandsoftware.com.au/ she has installed it for some very complex situations (eg a nanny agency).

    I've seen a demo and its impressive compared to the ACT/ Goldmine type systems that I've used previously. Good news is its only around $30 - $50 a month and is an Australian product. I understand you can customise up to 117 fields and store all your form letters etc in it. It also interfaces with Outlook.

    If you'd like her contact details (she's a lead gen specialist) just let me know.

    I'll probably look into it sometime this year - just hasn't got to the top of the list just yet, as my web CMS offers some limited CRM and workflow management on the backend.

    cheers
    Lisa
  9. GregMarr

    GregMarr New Member

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    Hi Arthur

    Salesforce actually does integrate with Outlook through downloadable 'plug-ins'. These 'plug-ins' allow you to synchronize contact information, calendar events, tasks etc (http://www.salesforce.com/products/sales-force-automation/desktop-mobile/ms-outlook-edition.jsp). and allow you to do the majority of your CRM through Outlook itself. I have deployed this configuration into businesses in the past and it works well.

    The 'plug-ins' are available for all Salesforce editions including "Group Edition" which is currently priced at around $99 per user per year.

    As Devan suggested, SugarCRM is also worth looking at in either hosted or local configurations.

    Please feel free to get in touch if you'd like further information. I have no affiliation with any CRM software provider but do have experience in this field and would be happy to provide some impartial advice.

    Greg

    Technical Director
    Venix - http://www.venix.com.au
  10. exstatic

    exstatic Active Member

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    You might also want to look at a product called Highrise.. it is also a hosted solution, but is very web2.0 ish and seems like a great product.

    Personally I haven't used it yet, but I think it looks like a fantastic product.

    http://www.highrisehq.com/
  11. 578#deleted

    578#deleted Guest

    Hi Devan,

    We considered getting SugarCRM from a company called Insightful Solutions, can you explain how your version works in comparison.

    My number is 03 9525 9086 or if you send me your phone number I will call you.


  12. i3000

    i3000 New Member

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    The Oracle CRM On Demand product is a hosted CRM priced currently @ $73 per user per month for Small-Medium businesses.

    Running with a hosted CRM from a reputable company such as Oracle takes away the issues of having to install and support the CRM yourself.

    It is very important with hosted CRM to ensure that your CRM vendor is going to be around tomorrow. If they are gone so is your data...

    http://www.i3000.com.au/
  13. No mans land

    No mans land Member

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    What you want will depend on what you want out of your CRM and to what extent you use it.

    I think Microsoft had one on the board for release but unsure.

    Have a look at Maximiser

    At the end of the day you have to do a cost benefit analysis of the software and check what the ongoing costs will be in the future for upgrades etc.

    Some software will save you money, it will make you money, it will enable you to compete.

    If the benefits don't exceed the cost then you'll have to contemplate just using Outlook itself.

    How much time will the software save you? How much money is the software making you?
  14. Rod

    Rod New Member

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    PRD Software make a helpdesk / CRM system called HelpMaster Pro. It's a SQL Server based system that will easily take care of CRM, helpdesk, service desk, software bug tracking, knowledge base, asset tracking and email management.

    It has a client-facing web interface also, so your client can keep track of their own jobs.

    Evaluation download available from www.helpmasterpro.com

    Made and supported in Canberra.
  15. CITI_Recruitment

    CITI_Recruitment New Member

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    Hi,

    The orginal poster wanted advice on a 'Thick Client' application rather than a hosted application. I've always preferred the thick clients as well - however some of the above people have suggested some excellent online packages - SalesForce is a strong leader in this space and its not expensive at all. Integration with outlook / ofice is also very good.

    If you want a cheap and fully outlook integrated CRM - try looking at Microsofts offering:

    http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/contactmanager/FX101674171033.aspx

    "Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Manager offers powerful customer and contact management to help you save time, improve sales and marketing, and deliver better customer service."

    It has a free trial and is around $150. I've tried it - it sits within Outlook so maybe this is what you're after?

    Good luck..
  16. marvelit

    marvelit Member

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    Business contact manager is only a contact list really. It has a few more in depth fields but is not good for monitoring anything specific.

    ACT is quite a good product and alot of my clients use it and are happy with it.

    One thing to remember people, is that if you want to invest into this sort of software, you are going to have to invest into your IT infrastructure if the data is kept on site.

    Make sure you have a disaster recovery solution in place (ie. backup of some sort etc.)

    I recently have a client of mine's server go down, and they lost everything. They didn't follow my recommendations and it ended up costing them 5 thousand dollars to repair. Luckily I got their data back, but it cost them 5 grand! This also does not include the amount of downtime they had, and loss of revenue due to not being able to access data and for wages for 15 - 20 people who couldn't work.

    So in reality, it was way more than the invoice they got from me.
  17. bg09

    bg09 New Member

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    Arthur,

    Just out of curiosity why do you want it to integrate with Outlook? Many CRM packagaes can do what Outlook does plus much more. If you are looking at expanding the capabilities of Outlook then I would recommend dumping it completely. Most CRM's can import your Outlook contacts and much of the data. Anyway, some good ones to look at are GoldMine, salesforce.com, sugarCRM, MS CRM (this is usually for bigger businesses), Maximizer, and SalesLogix (this is used primarily by IT companies, not sure what you do). Good luck in your search.
  18. 578#deleted

    578#deleted Guest

    Could you tell me if you have set up sugarcrm to integrate with your accounting package, because that is an issue for us, and if so, how did you do it. thanks. tobik@iprimus.com.au 03 9525 9086 Toni Bikhara
  19. Adam Randall

    Adam Randall Member

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    The best type of CRM integrates with outlook and has a 2 way near realtime sync with appointments and the to do bar.

    If I put an appointment in outlook it is in my CRM and if I put an appointment in my CRM it appears in my outlook.
  20. Rod Sprenger

    Rod Sprenger New Member

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    Hi There,

    Polymorphic Solutions is an Australian IT company that sells ChilliDB. ChilliDB is a powerful CRM offered as a hosted web application that is quite cheap, very easy to use, integrates with outlook and is designed for Small and Medium sized businesses. I'm more than happy to give anyone a demo over the web and a free trial to see if it suits your business.
    We use it in-house and its superb!
    We think its superior to ACT, but we may be biased :)

    Our web site http://www.chillidb.com

    cheers

    Rod

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