Small Business Customer Relationship Management

ACT! vs GoldMine: What You Need To Know To Choose The Best One

October 30, 2007

CRM Software Comparison which is best?For some reason, one of the most asked questions of me is “which is better: ACT! or GoldMine?”

Sometimes, they ask about Maximizer or SalesLogix, but ACT! and GoldMine are currently the two main ones I get asked about for software comparisons.

I remember when I was a Consultant, selling CRM software, I used to wait for the head-to-head product comparisons from the CRM manufacturer. Why? Because it’s what my prospects kept asking for! And I wasn’t alone…this kind of product matrix or comparison chart was probably the most asked for marketing document from the Reseller community.

But they weren’t head-to-head comparisons at all. It wasn’t competitive intelligence. After a while I came to understand that these charts were thinly veiled marketing hype posing as “competitive intelligence” and were very biased and, in my opinion, deviously skewed. (A careful reading will reveal that the features or functions have been worded in such a way as to give one CRM package a better rating or score).

Now when I’m asked which CRM package is best, I tell people “You’re asking the wrong question!”.

For those of you who don’t want to listen to my explanation about what the right approach is, don’t worry. Further down, I have included some specific areas you should examine when evaluating such programs as ACT!, GoldMine and Maximizer. It’s not a comprehensive list, but should provide a really good start. (In the Insider CRM Success Toolkit, I give over 50 pages of detailed notes on comparing feature sets).

“GoldMine versus ACT! Is The Wrong Question!”

Usually, but not always, these companies are smaller (one or a few salespeople) that enjoys the entrepreneurial flexibility of “just do it”. However, when it comes to implementing a Customer Relationship Management system, it’s important to pause for a moment and make sure you’re taking the right approach.

When I see a company using the approach of comparing CRM software feature sets, that’s a pretty big clue that they’re headed towards project failure. Companies that “go looking for a CRM package” without having an explicit business requirements document and look for the CRM software with the best feature set are headed for project disappointment.

It may sound subtle, but the distinction is critically important to the success of your CRM project. (As you read my explanation, I want you to keep in mind that the failure rate of CRM projects is 70%!)

It’s All About The Business Requirement

Both ACT! and GoldMine have been around for many years, have a large and enthusiastic user base and depending on your business requirements are a great choice. So, how do you really know which one is best for you?

Let me be clear…

I’m not saying that you need to spend a bunch of money on an expensive consultant to do your business requirements or do a detailed needs analysis. In fact, my strong recommendation is that you do this yourself. The payoff goes far beyond just a CRM project!

Your business requirements document should:

  • Be a formal document.
  • Detail “what you need to be able to do” with your CRM system.
  • Deal with your vision for the system for the next 3 to 5 years. So, if you’re starting with your salespeople now and hope to add customer service in a year, your business requirements should include both departments.

With your business requirements in hand, it becomes a much simpler task of looking at editor’s choice awards, magazine reviews, product recommendations and the like in order to make a decision. Instead of relying on often biased or rushed product reviews that simply repeat what the software makers have told them, you will have your own measuring stick.

What If Neither ACT! or GoldMine Is Right?

I would say better than 80% of companies that ask me which Customer Relationship Management system is best are only considering GoldMine or ACT! and have never considered anything else. This is usually because these are the ones they’ve heard most about and they probably have friends who use one of them. This is a mistake!

Don’t limit yourself! After you have you business requirements, it’s time to go look at the field—there are hundreds of CRM and Sales Force Automation (SFA) packages, all with their own particular strengths, weaknesses and specializations.

In The CRM Survival Guide, I show you how to efficiently check out the market and narrow down your choices. You may end up with an entirely different CRM system like SalesLogix, SalesForce.com, NetSuite, MS CRM and so on.

Look Beyond The “Back-of-the-Box” Marketing Hype

At some point you need to evaluate which CRM system is going to best satisfy your business requirements (you have decided to put together an explicit business requirements document, right?!).

I’m not going to give you a matrix that compares which system has what features—by now you should know that’s folly. What I am giving you is a list of features to take a close look at and make sure they do what you need them to. By no means is this a complete list—it’s just the tip of the ice burg.

  • What kind of database is it? Is it a currently popular one? Are there utilities available for doing things like data import, export and clean-up? If you’ve got more than 20 or so users and/or a lot of data entry volume, then you probably want to be looking at a SQL based database such as MS SQL.
  • How easy is it to set-up a new synchronization notebook? What happens if the notebook goes “out of synch” with the main database; what kind of refresh or recovery is available?
  • Speaking of synchronization, what happens if, in between synchronizations, the remote user updates the phone number of a contact and someone at head office has updated the person’s title? Will one of the changes be lost?
  • In addition to contact or record level security, what kind of field-level and function-level security is there?
  • Is it contact centric or account centric?
  • What types of fields can you have? They all have text fields, but what about text boxes, check boxes?
  • How many add-ons are available for each? Is it widely supported by the 3rd party development community?
  • What about a faxing solution? How can you do individual and mass fax blasts?
  • Can you send personalized HTML Email blasts? How easy is it to do?
  • What features are there to prevent users from printing out or exporting your customer list and walking away with it?
  • Is there free support provided? Are there active public users groups where you can see what issues others are having and get answers to your questions?

Stop! Ask Yourself “Am I going to fall into the failure trap that everyone else does or am I going to listen to Scott and do this right?”

OK, I’ve said my piece. Thanks for hanging in there…it was important. You should walk away with three very important messages:

  1. “Which is better” is the wrong question. The right question is: “Which best satisfies my business requirements?”
  2. Don’t go shopping or talk to a salesperson until you have a clear set of business requirements.
  3. Look beyond the “back-of-the-box” marketing hype and see for yourself how each system satisfies your business requirements.

Discover the step-by-step “No B.S.” answers that show you exactly how to implement an ACT! or GoldMine system that your users will welcome, that will let you manage sales better in less time, and will give your company the competitive sales boost it needs.

Comments

16 Responses to “ACT! vs GoldMine: What You Need To Know To Choose The Best One”

  1. James Prince on April 1st, 2008 3:32 pm

    Need some help. I have used ACT, SalesLogix and my current employer is using CRM. Honestly, the way they are using CRM has been extremely frustrating, but that is yet another story.

    Anyway, I am also trying to start up my own Sales Rep firm…currently I am a one man show, but will have others to join up as I build up enough revenue.

    I would like to establish a very basic data base to keep track of Companies and the Contacts within those companies. I would like to be able to attache documents and e-mails to specific contacts so that I can quickly see what I am doing under those relationships.

    You could say that I am simply working out of my garage and thus have a very limited budget, if any at all at this time. But as I build up these initial relationships, I am finding that I will need to get things organized on the front end in order to make the business of managing these accounts when they are generating revenue a bit more controlled.

    My goal is to find a simple data base management program to help me work smarter, so that I don’t necesarily have to work harder.

    Can you guide me or advise me on where to get started?

    Again, I am one person start-up sales rep firm with limited budget at this stage. Syncing is not needed today, but the ability to upgrade as I grow my company could be a topic to review.

    My focus is ONLY on sales contact management…there will not be a need to do any accounting functions.

    Any comments or help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

    Best regards and thank you!!!

  2. Scott on April 7th, 2008 7:22 pm

    In your post, you mention that you’ve used a few contact management software packages…what about those? Especially the more off the shelf ACT! type of database. So many programs are now being targeted towards larger companies and not the small and micro-businesses. There are a few software packages that still sell to that arena: ACT! and Maximizer are amongst them.

  3. Burt on May 9th, 2008 6:20 pm

    Scott
    Several years ago I used maximizer 7 mostly for contact management (single user system). For the most part it worked, but they only had an interface with palm, not my ipaq. I had used a psion before my ipaq and could not stand the very limited outlook application on either my ipaq or my desktop. Long story short, I am no longer using my ipaq and want/need to expand my two small businesses. I am currently doing web marketing and distribute an email newsletter through a service. I am about to purchase a blackberry pearl and want/need a system that I can add users to and will
    accomodate two small businesses and some more aggressive e marketing (web or email). I am back to looking at maximizer and a lesser known “on-schedule” by odyssey computing (it would interface with full featured program on my ipaq but only syc phone numbers via outlook with blackberry).
    Any thoughts?
    burt

  4. Nicole on June 19th, 2008 12:26 pm

    Lots of SMBs consider only ACT or Goldmine because of the name-recognition factor, but also because of price. Lately several providers have come on the market offering free CRM with much of the same functionality as a Goldmine or ACT, such as http://www.octopuscity.com, and I think these will begin to make the older, contact-centric systems irrelevant.

  5. Lisa Queen on December 27th, 2008 12:41 pm

    I am searching for a package for our recently launched wealth management practice. We are small with only two of us in the office and less than 50 clients. I don’t want something that is overly complicated. I have tried upswing.com and like the simplicity but it has many errors and is very slow. I do, however, like the fact that it is an on line service so I can access my contacts/calendar etc from anywhere. I looked at Act for Financial Prof and there is a Goldmine product apparently customized for Financial Prof as well. I would love your help in assessing what direction I should go from here. Thanks in advance for your input!

  6. John Gralton on January 15th, 2009 9:44 am

    We are a small family run business, that has used ACT! for the past eight years. We have recently put in a server and are looking to upgrade our CRM to either the new version of ACT! or Goldmine. I feel that we have let sales opportunities fall through the cracks in the past and am looking for a tool that will help move prospects through a pipeline, ensuring constant contact. I would also like to have all my e-mails, notes, attachments for a contact in one central location. The owner of the company likes ACT! and wants to stay with it. I think Goldmine may have some advantages to it, in achieveing the above mentioned goals, but I am having a difficult time getting any questions clearly answered. Any help out there?

  7. Deborah Atkinson on February 4th, 2009 9:55 am

    I am a GoldMine consultant and can answer any questions you have about GoldMine to help you and your boss determine which might be right to match your company’s business requirements. Feel free to contact me about GoldMine.

  8. Mike Rahe on February 9th, 2009 7:02 pm

    I have customer on the verge of getting Acto or Goldmine, I need pricing for 5 users, they have a server available for SQL 2005 full version ready to install.

  9. Brad Zuercher on February 20th, 2009 3:26 pm

    We have 5 seat of GoldMine Premium Ed V8.02…

    I oversee activity (owner of the business), and 4 users, one with YEARS of experience.

    We have spent mucho dollars on RAID-5 storage/tape backup on a domain controller, and TWO sub-servers (one a web server-we self-host our website via our T-1, and a terminal server for on the road persons to run any software we own). I have a tremendous cost in the sql database installaion of this system.

    I am contemplating jumping to ACT, due to the (what I am told) “seamless integration” with Peachtree Premium Accounting for Mfg (we do not use quickbooks or other accounting software as they are not very comprehensive with inventory control/costing/sub-assembliy build up and breakdown…

    Anyone have any suggestions?? Cost is NOT a factor, as ONE lost lead could lose 50X the cost of the RIGHT software…

  10. Phil Montegut on March 31st, 2009 9:07 am

    What is your objective in linking your CRM to your accounting system? “Seamless integration” can mean different things to different people.

    You might take a look at QuoteWerks (www.quotewerks.com). While it’s primary purpose is quote preparation, it can create an effective link between GoldMine and Peachtree.

    QuoteWerks uses your GoldMine contact list for quoting, updates sales and opportunity information in GoldMine, can read inventory from Peachtree (if needed), and can export sales orders or invoices to Peachtree.

    QuoteWerks.com is a very comprehensive website with excellent demo videos.

    We became a QuoteWerks “solutions partner” because their product effectively solved our client’s problems. While you can deal directly with them, we would be happy to help you in any way we can.

  11. Howard on April 30th, 2009 2:50 pm

    I have Goldmine on SQL now. My business is shrinking so it is probably overkill. I’d like to shrink it all to a laptop. I have run out of upgrades and run out of support. I just use a local partner to fix them.

    I have had chronic problems with Goldmine for several years – data corruption. Addtionally there are the annoying bugs. Now I have some serious problems.

    I am contemplating moving to ACT. Here is my fear and my question:
    If I switch – my Goldmine problems will disappear but wont I be exposed to a whole new set of database problems?

  12. Perry on April 15th, 2010 3:24 am

    As Scott says, look at your requirements first. Now, with the increasing popularity of web based (aka SaaS, cloud or hosted) CRM solutions, there are many more to choose from.

    To help you look beyond Act! and Goldmine, go to SmallBizCRM.com for more Small Business CRM options.

    Best,
    Perry

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