Your Guide to Software Selection

Comparing Salesforce vs. Act! vs. Zoho

For companies looking at Customer Relationship Management dashboards, it’s important to get a tailored and customized solution that’s going to work for the business, rather than one that ends up confusing staff or hindering internal operations (see more from Gene Marks, a well-known expert on CRM, on HuffPo regarding using these tools the right way). Shoppers can look at a variety of types of functionality, along with pricing and service models, to figure out what works best for a particular business.

Here’s a look at three top CRM solutions that are all available on a subscription basis for enterprise clients as cloud services.

Salesforce

This top name in CRM has developed a comprehensive system of open and connected dashboards for delivering client information in ways that enhance sales, and help sales teams to function. With offerings for marketing, sales and customer service, Salesforce provides an easy interface with an array of functionality. For example, the Salesforce CRM system allows users to easily track different types of customer relationships as they make their way from one phase to another, for instance, from the interest phase to conversion.

There’s also an intricate system for capturing all sorts of voice and data streams, in order to keep tabs on what’s happening and provide business intelligence on the fly. Users can track emails and phone conversations to retain all of the information that gets thrown around, rather than starting from scratch with each new point of contact.

Salesforce also maintains compatibility with platforms like Gmail and Exchange, and others. By embracing the concept of data visualization, Salesforce CRM helps to present customer histories and more, in a way that supports actionable use of this key business data. You might pay a bit more for Salesforce than for other vendor services, but at $25 per user per month, the Salesforce offering is not much higher than its competition, and for many companies, especially larger ones with more need for functionality, it can be a good deal.

Act!

The Act CRM platform also spans the gap between outreach and analytics. Offering its products in various Premium, Pro, E-marketing and Essentials packages, Act CRM offers modules for contact and activity management, automation and integration, and opportunity and sales tracking. There’s also a set of tools for e-mail marketing, and, last but not least, the Business Insights suite provides for the use of business intelligence, a major source of value for companies of all sizes.

Act CRM toolkits are made to enhance knowledge of contacts, to help internal teams perform more informed marketing activities, and to assist in analyzing customer data after the fact. Subscriptions for the premium package start at $35 per user per month, including video training and other extras.

Zoho

Zoho CRM allows companies to capture leads from the web, improve workflows, and analyze data. There is a category of tools for data-driven marketing, and a means of visitor tracking to learn more about what customers are doing online.

Another analytics offering, Zoho’s Opportunity Tracking tool, helps to track deals by size, contact history, source, or other types of categorization.

Zoho CRM is highly compatible, with tools like plug-ins for Microsoft Outlook and a mail merge function, as well as mobility on iPhone and Android platforms. It’s also compatible with Google Apps. Another big plus is Adwords functionality for integrated marketing purposes.

One extra thing Zoho CRM brings to the table is the idea of sales “gamification,” a novel idea in an age where the online gaming industry is raking in billions of dollars (check out this guide to business gamification at CIO.com). Using proprietary graphic interfaces and icon objects, Zoho’s Motivator tool brings a level of game play to the work that sales teams do on a regular basis, and blends reward with recreation for a fun look at how to manage the sales process.

Another feature is the ability to link in customers’ Twitter and Facebook accounts to the CRM system, which, again, represents a savvy type of functionality as more e-commerce gets done on or near these social media platforms.

Subscription pricing for Zoho starts at $12 per user, per month, for the ‘Standard’ package.

Any of these prime CRM tools can enhance a company’s knowledge of how its people work with its customers, and in the right context, can provide a high degree of business intelligence. Companies can start to use these sorts of CRM tools to expand into the areas of customer experience management and in-depth predictive analytics with regard to sales. A CRM platform is often a springboard to better business tracking, higher profit margins and more efficient marketing and sales of products and services.

SelectHubComparing Salesforce vs. Act! vs. Zoho

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