Customer relationship management (CRM) allows companies to manage how they interact with customers and possible leads in order to grow and sustain that relationship. The use of CRM mainly is associated with sales, but it can also be applied to other fields, including customer service and marketing. CRM tools are generally software programs that allow business users to control, standardize and automate their systems.
For smaller companies without a lot of capital, there are some cheap or free CRM tools. Salesforce.com offers monthly subscriptions, and it is a hosted cloud-computing model. Salesforce.com's CRM tools can be categorized as follows: sales; service and support; partner relationship management; marketing; content; ideas analytics and Chatter, which allows users to collaborate on data in real time. CiviCRM is a free program geared toward nonprofits. It has the ability to accept and track online donations; do event planning and management; create email campaigns and organize and keep track of donors and members. This is an open-source program, which means that it must be installed on company servers. Another free option (for three users or less) for marketing professionals is ZohoCRM, which works with AdWords and SEM platforms. This tool can work with advertising reporting software systems, has high-end reporting functionality and comes with import/export functions
Midsized Business Solutions
Office Interactive offers, for a monthly fee, customizable solutions that range from collaboration features to marketing support to customer solutions. The collaboration tool allows users to share and collaborate on documents and other data by using the company's email client. The sales feature provides users with the option to not have to manually enter sales information; the system can convert both emails and web entries into leads information. The customer tool permits businesses to see all communications, invoices and other important customer data in one location. Sugar Professional can be bought for a flat fee and provides users with ways to manage leads and accounts, handle email marketing and create campaigns. Other features include plugins for Microsoft Office tools, case management, error reporting and tracking, sales forecasting, quotes and contracts. The tool also provides users with the ability to manage work flow, access, security and quality control. The price of the product includes online and email support, plus updates and upgrades.
Large Business Solutions
Siebel On Demand is a Web-based tool created by Oracle, and it can handle a large number of users. It is a subscription-based platform that is geared toward the sales, customer service, marketing and call center businesses. The tool features real-time analytics, the ability to streamline sales, easily find information on customers and create and evaluate campaigns. The software has a mobile application that allows users to access customer information when not in the office. Other features include Web support and built-in integrated Oracle applications.