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November 30, 2010

Hosted CRM: What to Know Before You Buy

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor


When shopping for the right hosted CRM solution for your business, do you find yourself inundated with too many options? The reality is, as captured in this latest Forbes piece, there are simply too many good CRM applications available on the market today, which makes it that much more difficult to choose the right one for your environment. You know you need to do your research – but where do you start?


The hosted CRM solution should serve as a robust database that keeps track of anything pending for each customer, supplier or partner. A robust system will offer calendars, activity lists and forms so that this pertinent information does not fall through the cracks. It will also provide reminders, automatic e-mails and will schedule follow-ups for others to help deliver the expected service your customers want. 

The right hosted CRM should also be able to tract all interactions between your company and your clients. All phone calls, appointments, e-mails and any other activities with every customer should be captured in your system. These activities should easily be viewable in reports. 

The hosted CRM solution should also provide you with the capability of communicating by way of mass letters or e-mails to a group of customers who all share common data.There are a number of different benefits you should expect from a hosted CRM solution, including the fact they are quick and easy to get up and running, they can be accessed from anywhere and they require less upfront cash to get started. At the same time, there are also challenges to hosted CRM, including the fact that your data will be hosted by someone outside of your company – are you comfortable with such an arrangement?

As stated earlier, there is a full range of really good hosted CRM solutions on the market, including Salesforce.com (News - Alert), SugarCRM, MicroSoft Dynamics CRM, Highrise and ZohoCRM. All of these hosted CRM solutions have the necessary features mentioned above to ensure you get the optimal value out of your chosen solution. Of course, you will need to compare your needs against each solution to determine the best fit, but all have proven capabilities and long success in the market. The good news is that a quick scan of the industry will turn up recommendations on each of these solutions, so you don’t have to rely on just one source that may seem to steer you wrong. 

One word of advice, however, ask that you can try the hosted CRM on site. The benefit to hosted CRM solutions is that they are easy to try before you buy, so take advantage of this option to take a test run. If you are happy with the results, you are more likely to be happy with the integration.


Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Juliana Kenny




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