So you want to choose a platform for customer relationship management (CRM) -- one that will help automate repetitive sales tasks and ultimately boost sales and customer satisfaction. The question is, "Where do you begin?" Fortunately, Gartner's recently released 'Magic Quadrant for Sales Force Automation' (SFA) offers a wealth of comparative data that can help you narrow down your choices, especially with so many newcomers to the market.
First, let's understand Gartner's definition of Sales Force Automation. Gartner lumps into the SFA category applications that support the automation of sales activities, processes, and administrative responsibilities for business-to-business (B2B) sales professionals. As Gartner characterizes it, core functionalities of sales force automation include account management, as well as contact management and opportunity management.
Gartner also lists add-on capabilities that focus on improving the effectiveness of salespeople. These include sales configuration, guided selling, proposal generation, and content management, plus sales performance management support, including incentive compensation, quota management, sales coaching, and territory management.
With that understanding in mind, let's do a quick review of the top vendors, complete with a summary of what Gartner calls "strengths" and "concerns" about each of the products included in its Magic Quadrant analysis.
We'll begin with the leaders in the field, including Salesforce.com and Microsoft Dynamics in the top spots, as well as SAP and Oracle. Gartner positions SugarCRM fairly high on the chart as a visionary, and NetSuite as a key challenger. Other, more niche players include Sage CRM, Swiftpage, Pivotal, CRMnext, and Zoho. Let's take a look.
Meet Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Microsoft Dynamics CRM has many strengths, according to Gartner. For obvious starters, it integrates with Microsoft technology stack assets, including Microsoft SharePoint for collaboration and content management, Microsoft Lync for presence and IM, Microsoft Visual Studio for extended customization, and Microsoft Outlook for customer contacts and email, all to help leverage their Microsoft investments. A new process UI also helps significantly improve the user experience. Gartner also cited a broad partner delivery network that provides the breadth of application add-ons, industry vertical expertise, and implementation capabilities. Now, for the firm's cautions:
"Smartphone and iPad/Windows 8 tablet (target release 4Q13) show promise, but will need to be proven. Non-Microsoft IT organizations need to invest to improve their Microsoft technical stack capabilities. For example, many customers will need to use SQL Server Reporting Services for complex analytics. Microsoft needs to improve its ability to directly sell value to the VP of sales. Releases of new functionality will be once a year; the online version will have new functional releases twice a year, so there may be a slight lag in announced capabilities for the on-premises version." (continued...)
Posted: 2013-09-15 @ 12:07pm PT
Another good source of independent CRM information is the new G2 Crowd site.
Posted: 2013-09-04 @ 3:02pm PT
Thanks for providing information on CRM platforms, Jennifer! An intelligent social CRM has become an absolute necessity for any business hoping to maintain a competitive edge, particularly in today's technologically progressive environment. However, a crucial step that all businesses must complete previous to SCRM adoption, must be the careful selection of an intelligent SCRM. The availability of complete business suites like GreenRope, are consistently innovating the SCRM market. Furthermore, consolidated business suites allow the attached SCRM to efficiently communicate with other software applications. Not only will this increase the accuracy of internal communication, the organized data allows the business to quickly target the appropriate customer demographics.
Posted: 2013-09-03 @ 7:45am PT
Good article. Came across another whitepaper comparing Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics CRM something readers may find interesting “Pros and cons of migrating to Microsoft Dynamics CRM from Salesforce.com” @http://bit.ly/17UgKN7
Posted: 2013-09-01 @ 12:47am PT
The Gartner Analysis typically serves the larger firms, the typical Gartner customers. Other independent comparisons of CRM systems can be found at www.g2crowd.com and also at Gleansight.
Posted: 2013-08-29 @ 8:53pm PT
@Michael, while I see your point, I also think we should be careful when talking about CRM as strictly an analytical tool to benefit big wigs in a company. CRM at its very core should be a tool to help salespeople achieve more fulfilling relationships with their customers and potential customers, breeding more sales and loyalty.
However, I think we should also be careful when we talk about automation software being ubiquitous with CRM, as automation can remove the entire human element of the customer, thereby nullifying the entire ideal of CRM.
Michael Collins (mc@dmcou:
Posted: 2013-08-29 @ 8:16am PT
Surely this should be titled 'Wading through the Ultra-Competitive Sales Force Automation market' as it totally omits any consideration of the analytical, operational or interactive elements that go to make up true CRM. It also fails to recognise the burgeoning interest in CRM for the B2C sector, totally at the opposite end of the spectrum from SFA.