Small Business Customer Relationship Management

Research CRM Software Choices

January 28, 2008

The first step in choosing a technology is to research what’s out there—to get familiar with the lay of the CRM land. The goal of this stage is to narrow the field down to 6 technologies that appeal to you.

Most of the companies I’ve seen implement CRM have checked out no more than 3 companies and only because they are the ones that happened to be top of mind. I’m suggesting going much broader with as many as 12 companies to do the preliminary research phase with. Doing this will:

  • Give you a much better sense of what’s available
  • Make you a much more educated consumer
  • Increases the likelihood of selecting the right technology for you
  • What To Look For
  • When you’re in the Research Phase, the idea is to get a basic understanding of the variety of technologies available. You will get a good feel for what the choices are and should be able to easily identify 3 to 6 technologies you feel should be looked into more closely.

Popular CRM Packages

There are literally dozens of CRM packages available. In the next table, I’ve put together a list of 12 popular packages—by no means is this a complete list, but it does represent a good sampling of available technologies:

Alphabetical List of Some Popular CRM Software Packages

Package, Manufacturer, Website

ACT!,  Sage,
 GoldMine, FrontRange,
 Maximizer, Microsoft,
 NetSuite, NetSuite, http://
 Onyx , Onyx,
 Pivotal, Pivotal,
 Sage CRM (formerly ACCPAC CRM), Sage,
 SalesLogix, Sage,,,
 SalesNet, SalesNet,
 Siebel, Siebel,

Don’t Get Drawn In To A Sales Cycle

At the Research Stage, you don’t want to get bogged down on any one solution. This means avoiding salespeople and CRM Partners! Don’t look for or accept the direct help of the manufacturer or a Partner at this point.

If you are contacted, politely and firmly let them know: “Thank you for your call; we’re currently doing broad research. If you’d like to assist at this stage, you can send me any information on your solution that you can.”

If you’re pushed for a meeting, push back saying: “Now is not the right time to meet. We’ll be putting together a short list of companies to present at a later date.” Be sure to stick with the Insider’s Buying Process. Find out more in the CRM Survival Guide.

This approach of staying in control and making it clear that you’re following a process of your own has two purposes:

  1. Keeps you from getting bogged down.
  2. (more importantly) Sets the tone with the manufacturer that you’re serious and knowledgeable which will translate into better treatment and negotiating strength down the road.

Don’t Install A Trial Version

It’s amazing how many companies have called me up in the past and have asked me to send them a trial version of the software. Despite my best efforts to explain to them that after they install the software, they’ll look at the screen and say “Now what?”.

Let me be more direct with you than I was able to be with former prospects of mine: “Trial software that you have not been trained on, that has not been configured for your Business Requirements is useless. It’s a waste of time and I advise you to steer clear!”


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