Best CRM 2011?

CRM 2011Greetings to all the “best CRM” fans these days – the CRM’s spring peak is back with lot of interesting projects. Should I use an in-house or hosted solution, how to integrate our ERP, the Asterisk call center, helpdesk, our email marketing center, RSS feeds and 30 social media profiles?… The old myth about ”the magic CRM software, which “the management installed last year” is dead.

Welcome to the social CRM cloud!

Few friends manage their sales transactions, campaigns and lead tracking progression from their smartphones/ iPhone or Android-based PDAs.  Skype and even Seeismic and TweetDeck are main tools – that’s how they like to streamline interaction, maximize sales and customer satisfaction. Most of the folks I meet are happy to practice CRM with their Excel 97 spreadsheet or MS Outlook with Business contact manager. Nostalgic users of ACT, Maximizer or GoldMine lately are moving to online contact managers like SalesNexus and Zoho. For end-customer shops we use efficiently InfusionSoft, customers with bigger shops and several websites/ brands / language version in Europe use Magento with CRM extensions.

SugarCRM led the open-source way in the last 6 years with a flexible one-hat-fits-all solution, yet for huge projects with dozens of users and specific modules with custom workflow you need the enterprise edition or a more sophisticated, yet open platform – we had great experience with the CRM-in-the-cloud platforms VTiger and openCRX. Enterprise-wide multilingual coordination of sales generation, fulfillment, product structuring and pricing, real-time issue tracking and drill-down dashboards with pipelines are not a bread-and-butter task. Which is my favorite CRM beast? Salesforce.com of course, but it comes pricy when you grow, so for SMBs we stick to customized SugarCRM, vtiger or openCRX implementations. What about SAP CRM or Oracle Siebel? They are out of reach for most of the local companies, plus we are fans of scalable platform-independent and vendor-neutral open-source solutions, aren’t we?

CRM is just a database tool to collect, manage and present data to optimize and meet your goals. The software is not the solution – the focused definition and execution of the business strategy and objectives is the roadmap for success. Self-service portal and social marketing integration is much more important than the system itself. There is no “top” or “best” out-of-the-box CRM. As a CRM implementation consultant I always try to understand and help customers to define the brand challenges and strategy, to tailor every aspect of the CRM experience from the start. The right opportunity management solution comes a month later. The perfect – 2 years later. Understanding your own business and introducing features to your staff makes the difference.

Back in 2008, CRM 2.0 was still beta, today it’s a >$3 billion business. More SocialRank than PageRank, more customer insights and social media  analytics than noisy spam. Go social (2 billion web users worldwide) and Mobile (1 billion mobile workforce worldwide).  90% of organizations will support corporate applications on personal  devices by 2014 so grab your iPad or tablet and mash your perfect CRM deck on iGoogle, CoTweet, Pardot, Facebook, Foursquare… you name it. Compose a more experimental, Twitter-like social CRM for emotionally high-touch customer engagement.  See you in Gartner’s Social CRM magic quadrant!

If you have any questions, feel free to comment or contact me. Join the cultural transformation, get closer to the customer and keep walking!