Hunting for CRM: Which Platform is Right for You?
Regardless of your organisation’s CRM needs, whether they’re small or large, investing in the right platform is no small feat. The effort and time required to identify, buy and implement the right platform is quite substantial, however when all is said and done and stakeholders are on-board, it all boils down to finding the right platform for you.
In this post, we’ll be discussing the main 7 CRM platforms and reviewing their features: Microsoft Dynamics 365, Salesforce Sales Cloud, Zendesk, Oracle CX Cloud Suite, SAP CEC Suite, SugarCRM, HubSpot CRM.
CRM Platforms: An Overview
If you’re new to CRM, keeping tabs on all the capabilities and ever expanding features can be a mean feat. Although there are so many things to be aware of, the wide array of systems and features is also a positive. How? Well it gives smaller companies the same competitive edge as bigger companies by levelling the playing field.
Here is an overview of the leading CRM platforms available:
Microsoft Dynamics 365
Whether it’s a B2B or a B2C scenario you’re after, Microsoft Dynamics 365 provides full CRM functionality and can be deployed as SaaS or on-premises. The platform offers full integration with Office365, analytics and social media features as well. Even though it’s a full-service enterprise platform, smaller companies can take advantage of it just as well as large ones.
Salesforce Sales Cloud
Salesforce Sales Cloud is an enterprise-scale cloud platform. It includes a number of features including extensive workflow/approval features, marketing automation, and sales functionality. The new Einstein AI functionality also provides analytics on demand.
Zendesk is more of a niche platform with its main focus being customer service. The platform has strong mobile implementations that through proactive engagement builds strong customer support. Through these features it tracks customer interaction/engagement all the way through service incidents with integrated chat, phone and email support.
Oracle CX Cloud Suite
The Oracle CX Cloud Suite platform comes out of the database world and parses CRM functionality into mini-clouds that include sales, quotes, commerce, marketing, engagement, etc. It is indeed best suited for enterprise sized businesses however they do have an offering that works well for medium-sized businesses. The platform is also available as an on-premises version, despite its name.
SAP CEC Suite
SAP’s CRM platform evolved out of their Enterprise Resource Planning suite and it covers sales, commerce, marketing and service. It’s coupled with Jam (social collaboration suite) which includes social media interaction and is able to access and exchange documents.
SugarCRM is available both on-premises and in the cloud and it supports advanced workflow/reporting as well as user collaboration. In this platform, users can create and execute marketing campaign management, social media analysis/communication and it can also be integrated with external applications and sources.
HubSpot is aimed mainly at SMB’s and its CRM suite centres around sales and marketing. The platform offers strong data collection and customer contact features as well as customer interaction tracking. With this suite you’ll also find that it offers an integrated data warehouse that boasts information about millions of other companies.
The Enterprise and CRM
Big companies tend to choose CRM platforms that tie in well with their size. Usually these are suites that scale up well and offer a wide array of functionality which can be leveraged throughout the entire enterprise. Another thing that most companies take into account is how well the chosen suite integrates with already existing applications in the business.
The two platforms that find themselves at the forefront in this situation are Microsoft Dynamics and Salesforce. The suites offer great core capabilities like marketing, automation functionality, sales, service support and new features such as AI. Oracle and SAP also offer the same strong features and all of these CRM platforms have features that allow for leveraging social media/online communities to enhance customer engagement on a number of different channels.
Dynamics 365 is definitely at the forefront when it comes to integration. Just like the entire Office 365 platform, Dynamics was taken along for the Microsoft integration ride. For the enterprise that relies heavily on Excel (analysis) and Outlook (integrated communication), Microsoft Dynamics is the CRM choice. Not only does it provide a wholly integrated offering, but it also features AI functionality within the entire Office 365 suite. Some of the extra features available in Dynamics is Customer Insights (automation of customer-centric actions/tasks) and Relationship Insights (virtual sales assistant, customer relationship status).
Salesforce comes close, having announced its Partner Relationship Management (multichannel community application) which offers integrated channel management. It also integrates Einstein (cloud AI) to aid in quickly surfacing data for a more productive channel management/product support content.
SMBs and CRM
CRM vendors usually offer platforms scaled down for midsize companies and in theory for smaller businesses as well. We say in theory as oftentimes the offerings for small companies are usually too complex and cumbersome at that level. Salesforce and SugarCRM are among the vendors that offer their platforms at this level, while Dynamics 365 is the exception- only catering to medium and large companies.
The main issue that small to mid-sized companies come against is the price. They may have a lot of functional needs, but they may not have the budget for such an investment. HubSpot however caters for this scenario. When businesses purchase a CRM platform for a lower price however, they will be faced with reduced integration capabilities.
Limited Functionality Requirements
There are those companies that need or want only a limited subset of functionality and there are CRM platforms that offer just that. For example if a company requires only social-media specific features they can resort to vendors such as HubSpot, Oracle, Salesforce, SAP, SugarCRM and Dynamics.
The CRM industry is evolving more and more every day as device mobility and digital infrastructure capabilities grow. If a business has a good grasp of their requirements then there definitely is a CRM offering that is suitable out there. The key thing is to make sure that they thoroughly understand their business and what they hope to achieve. One thing’s for sure, the right CRM platform can help transform a business for the better.
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