Staying Ahead of the Curve – When Choosing a CRM

Sales leaders are responsible for delivering company revenue targets. With companies investing a significant portion of their marketing mix in their sales force, sales leaders are under pressure to deliver results.

Yet, so many sales leaders are struggling to figure out how to improve performance and productivity of their sales force. Improvements in performance are related to three key areas people, process, and technology.


In  “Sales Leaders Are Losing” I wrote about the people and process. I would like to touch on the technology component. The backbone of most sales organizations technology is their CRM. The challenge is how do you choose an online CRM.

Here is an overview of some of the popular options.

If you don’t already have a sales CRM in place for your team, then it’s time to realize that there is absolutely no way you can beat your competitors to the punch in our high-speed, online world today without one.  Here’s a study about the importance of managing leads and responding quickly to leads that should make the case.

Choosing an online CRM solution can be difficult and confusing.  The key to choosing the right CRM is first defining your sales process, then mapping out CRM requirements to facilitate and automate that process.  Unfortunately, most companies shortchange that work and end up comparing CRMs based solely upon their features and get distracted.  They fall in love with “sexy” features that don’t have much at all to do with the core sales process.

The following is a comparison of some of the popular CRM solutions for medium-sized businesses and some of the key details that make them a good fit for some and not for others.  The assumption is that in today’s market, there is a need for basic contact management, sales management, automation of workflows, sales reporting and also nurturing of leads and even facilitation of lead generation campaigns and techniques.


picture1SugarCRM is a mature and robust solution.  It can be customized extensively but, this usually requires a “certified consultant”.  Sugar does not include email marketing or marketing automation capabilities.  There are a number of applications that can be “added-on” to SugarCRM but, there are additional costs, and most importantly, you’ll need to move information back and forth between SugarCRM and the marketing systems you choose.  In order to enable real-time response to customers engaging in your marketing messages, someone on your team will need to spend at least 15 to 20 hours per week maintaining things.


picture2Salesforce is very robust and has an extensive library of apps that can enable just about anything in their AppExchange.  Salesforce does not include email marketing or marketing automation without also subscribing to their Marketing Cloud or ExactTarget service.  Also, same day support response is what Salesforce calls Premium Support and that’s only included in their higher-end options.  You’ll need to train someone on your staff to maintain the whole system internally.


zohoZoho inexpensive and has add-ons for email marketing and marketing automation but, they’re additional costs and complexity.  Zoho doesn’t offer same day guaranteed support so; you’ll need a consultant or you’ll need someone on your staff to spend a month or two getting deeply educated on how to keep things humming for you if you’re going to have your revenue pipeline depending on the system.


infusionsoftInfusionsoft is a strong tool for marketing automation in an e-commerce business.  Infusionsoft requires consulting help to get customized and configured for your team.  In particular, for sales teams, the CRM capabilities and sales management capabilities typically need some attention.  Customers tell us that Infusionsoft requires a tremendous amount of internal staff time to maintain.  You’ll need to allocate at least 1/3 of a team member’s time to perform these tasks.


picture1SalesNexus is an online CRM solution that includes robust sales management and reporting capabilities and marketing automation all in the same simple solution.  There’s no need to move information from one system to another to enable key lead nurturing and lead generation strategies.  Also, SalesNexus provides same day support to all customers at no additional charge, and they provide customization and implementation services in-house so, it’s much more affordable, and you only have one vendor to manage.

Even if you already have a CRM solution in place today, if your team is not using it the way you expected or you’re not getting the metrics and analytics you expected, it may be due to choosing the wrong solution originally or a fundamental lack of process to measure.  Revisit things with these or other vendors and be sure to lock down your sales process first!