Over the past few weeks, I have been evaluating some CRM systems to manage my personal business. I am a 1 man operation and collaborate with teams on an as-needed and per project basis.
Some of the online CRM systems I tried out are listed below. You’ll find comments on my top 3 choices:
All of them have some sort of free trial you can use to test it out and see if it works for you. Each one has a little bit different way of organizing your contacts and your upcoming tasks lists etc. They all also have different integrations available with outside software (for me, they had to integrate with Google Apps Email and Calendar.)
In the end I have settled on the Contact Manager version of Salesforce.com for $5 per month. It’s very limited compared to the full system, but I actually like it better – it’s much less complicated. Their system for managing upcoming tasks + the mobile app for Blackberry and a simple integration with Google Apps Email was what did it for me. I am a single user and this suits my needs. If you need to have multiple users on the system, it gets more expensive quickly. The full version of Salesforce.com is $65 per month per user.
I was really pushing to make the 37 Signals Highrise be the top choice as they have a very good deal of $49 per month for 15 users – this is awesome for team / project collaboration. I didn’t settle on this one because the workflow and the way contacts and tasks were managed didn’t suit my way of thinking and didn’t do things the way I would expect them to be done. I also found it to be a bit too simple as a sales tool. Millions of people love the 37 Signals products so do take a look at this one to see if it can work for you. This system also has a cool “Deals” tracking feature that tells you how much $$ you can expect to make this month and next month based on your current sales pipeline.
Zoho CRM was a great product but the way it was set up I didn’t know if I would have access to all features or if certain features would need to upgrade and buy more Zoho products in order to activate them. For example you can use a trial version of Zoho for free, but you have to pay $5 per month to integrate to email. The price / functionality mix on the website looks great, but I don’t want to be nickled and dimed for all sorts of upgrades in the future.