Customer Relationship Management is a core pillar of productivity software in most businesses.
What is CRM? It’s software designed to organise, automate and synchronise business processes such as sales, marketing, customer service and technical support.
If you want to find, attract and win new customers, as well as nurture and retain existing ones then CRM is the tool for the job.
Traditional CRM solutions
CRM software historically would be delivered to your company in a box with instructions for installing it your server or PC.
As the cloud concept emerged it was realised that CRM was very well suited to this new method of delivery. So today there are a wide range of CRM solutions of varying complexity available ‘in the cloud’, or on the web delivered in the form of software as a service (SaaS). [pullquote]What is CRM? It’s software designed to organise, automate and synchronise business processes such as sales, marketing, customer service and technical support.[/pullquote]This methodology has its merits for enterprises or all size, however it’s especially attractive to small and medium sized business and businesses operating a distributed sales force, for a number of reasons, as you will see.
Cloud CRM is the term given to CRM software which is hosted in the cloud – and subsequently you don’t have to purchase the software in its entirety and load it on your own servers prior to actually using it.
Instead, you access the CRM software via the internet – usually through a standard internet browser – on a subscription basis. There are numerous advantages to using CRM in this way.
Because you’re not buying any new software or hardware, your upfront costs are going to be lower and the setup less complex. You’re simply subscribing to a web-based service, either on a monthly or yearly basis. It therefore follows that any future upgrades will be cheaper , or provided within the scope of the service you are receiving. Similarly, since cloud CRM would typically be billed on a per seat basis, you’ll only pay for what you need when you need it.
Since all maintenance is carried out by your service provider, you won’t have to worry about time spent by your network administrators installing or upgrading, leaving them free to carry out other duties.
Because your service is subscription-based, it’s more flexible. You can adapt it to your business needs more easily. For example, if your business grows, you can simply upgrade your subscription, which would be cheaper, easier and faster than upgrading your software and the hardware it would otherwise be running on.
As with all cloud software solutions, cloud CRM is by its nature inherently reliable and resilient. Since its operated on a network of servers and within the control of your expert service provider, your data should be safe, secure, backed up and accessible. Wherever you have an Internet connection, your CRM should be instantly available and operating at a consistently high and effective level.
Your cloud CRM service will also help you do your bit for the environment, as you’ll be sharing your system with others, thereby reducing your carbon footprint considerably.
Where to go from here
Seeing the advantages of cloud CRM is the easy bit. What might be harder, or at least more time consuming, is finding the CRM supplier or CRM solution that’s right for you.
Performing a Google search or looking at our list below might just show up the biggest CRM providers who can afford to spend the most on advertising. And whilst biggest may produce some attractive economies of scale and headline pricing, it isn’t always the best solution if you’re looking for customisation, and a solution that meets the exact needs of your business. Cloud CRM will be expected to support one of your most critical business functions and therefore you should approach the task of selecting a service provider with the appropriate high level of diligence.
At Compare the Cloud, we make it our business to identify service providers who offer the right mix of service and support to customers who need Cloud CRM services that can be relied upon. With answers to a few straight forward questions we can help identify your ideal supplier and perfect partner from our rapidly growing list of service providers. Let us help you get you started. The service is free with no obligation, so why not take to answer a few simple questions and our tool will give you a selection of providers who can give you exactly the cloud CRM solution that’s right for you.
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|Cloud CRM Providers: Salesforce | Oracle CRM | Microsoft Dynamics | Workbooks | Sugar CRM | Sage CRM (formerly ACT!) | Nimble | OpenCRM | ReallySimpleSystems | Zoho (via Google Apps) | Insightly (via Google Apps) | Capsule | Maximizer | Streak (via Google Apps) | Base CRM | Highrise | Quickbase ||