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!”


15 Responses to “Research CRM Software Choices”

  1. Shane on January 28th, 2008 4:39 pm

    Adding one more to the list…

    Simple Sales Tracking –

    Likely the simplest to use in the list and the least cost.

  2. Rob on March 16th, 2008 10:58 pm

    I’ve used maximizer since 1991 in a DOS version. I used it lovingly up through 97is. After that they went to version 7.0 and thats ween they lost their winning approach to keeping a sales person or manager in tune with his or her work, customers, fellow workers. b osses, anything. They went to this all encompasing Project oriented thing, like they listened to a bunch of consultants or /\CEO, CFO or other high end folks and not the people who relied on that software to get them through each day and not forget anything, a next appointment, what to do when it was done, the basics. They lost the basics and thought they would appeal to some who only uses it to check the status of big campaings instead of having meetings and important conversations. I used this program to keep me in touch. I thing the new age idiots use it to keep distanced from the troops. I am so so dissapointed because I need a CRM now and I am actually considering ‘act. I don’t like act. I like the old Maximizer. Why mess with perfection just because the other guys havent got it right yet and still need to change things again. Maximizer, you had it, you should have just added another star on the helmet for the new year, let the others rewrite their stuff. Sit, sip champagne and relax. your done. Well you were. Now, we have nothing worth using.’

  3. Intelestream on July 30th, 2010 2:30 pm

    Good advice to consider more than the most popular CRM option in a market that offers a plethora of solid softwares. Another CRM worth comparing is intelecrm, a web based software built with small businesses in mind. Intelestream charges a low monthly flat fee for unlimited users and offers a helpful whitepaper that compares several of the large contenders. It can be downloaded by visiting Intelestream web page whitepaper’s section.

  4. Abbasi on November 24th, 2010 10:21 am

    I use Sales Tracking Portal and like it so much. It’s extremely easy to use and very effective. My sales job is a lot easier after i use this online software. The best part is, it’s free.

  5. Celine on December 8th, 2010 2:58 pm

    Hello Scott,

    No one has reported this and I am sorry that I see next to Maximizer in your list of Popular CRM softwares and on the same line you have included Microsoft CRM and the only website is the one for Microsoft CRM.
    Is there any way to correct this?
    Maximizer CRM name and an website should be on its own line like so:
    Maximizer CRM, Maximizer Software Inc.,

    We at are long time partners with Maximizer and Microsoft is a competition that because of their household name give us undue competition – so this error doesn’t help. If you visit my blog you will see that I am a user of Maximizer since their beginning more than 20 years ago (but recent to blogging:), so this application is a lot better organized and work the same way people do.


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