This 2011 review of hosted sales contact management and marketing campaign management solutions is based on balancing sales, marketing and CRM needs. Companies have struggled with this for years as Sales Contact Management solutions were not necessarily the best CRM solution. The winning recommendation for Sage ACT! Premium 2012 vs Salesforce Premium vs Sugar 6 CRM is based on very specific criteria. Businesses need to clearly define their needs for now and the future and TEST, TEST, TEST before committing an entire organization. Start with a few key sales and marketing staff and form a beta testing group to help evaluate as well as refine nurturing programs, layouts etc.
Three critical criteria for selecting a solution in this review:
- It must meet all sales lead and contact management system requirements.
- It must be a hosted cloud solution, offer mobile sync, and be user friendly with little or no integrations or customization needed. Intuitive use is essential.
- It must include cross channel support of data input ( leads), and optimally cross channel output- (print, email
The solution must also provide basic needs for a company with these features:
MANAGMENT & ADMINISTRATION
- an outside sales force up to minimum 25, scalable to over 100
- manager management to assign leads
- manager reporting window to see status of leads progress
- Sales opportunity reports
- Record history with automatic time/date stamp, drop down menu to choose from send letter, phone call etc. The 2nd element for phone to include drop down – completed, left message, attempted. Other elements will be completed or not completed.
- Keep customer contact info, plus associated notes, history, activities, documents, opportunities, social media profiles, and more in one organized place.
- Search by any data including SIC, city, state, industry, name, company, NOTES,
- Access contacts and calendar details from virtually anywhere including iphone, Droid
- AUTOMATED LEAD NURTURING VIA EMAIL – Admin campaigns, sales rep campaigns
- Automated lead nurturing via direct mail
- Integrate web forms capturing leads
In addition to the primary and basic criteria, I’ve outlined some key differentiating elements in the table below.
|Lead scoring, routing||YES||YES||YES|
|Sales Teams||YES||* YES, Enterprise only||YES|
|create automated alerts ie if lead not acted on within certain number of days or hours||?||Appears to be yes||Appears to be yes with customized sales process|
|territory management||?- I’m sure it can be done, just not familiar with how||* YES, Enterprise only||Can be built in Sugar Studio or is available as a downloadable application via SugarExchange, for free or at an additional fee|
|Offline app||YES- required||YES- Users provided desktop app and will auto sync|
|Mobile||Connect service $59.95/user||YES||YES- 3 options- browse web version, mobile version, or use native app (latter on iphone now, coming to Droid 12/11)|
|Email- outlook||YES||YES||archive emails to Sugar and sync calendar, contacts and tasks|
|Email- other||YES- integrated Act email, Gmail, 3rd party plugin options||YES||YES- gmail, yahoo, mail, IMAP- use the Sugar email client to archive emails to Sugar|
|Document sharing||YES||YES- Google Docs||YES- Relate documents to any record in Sugar and store them in the cloud using LotusLive or Google Docs|
|Hierarchal company organization- parent, subsidiary, related||YES||YES||? Not sure if standard or customization needed|
|Create and execute campaigns across marketing channels||No- optional email campaign only||Only with APP exchange – choose and configure||YES – Advanced target to lead tracking for insights as to why campaign worked.|
|Captures leads directly into the CRM||YES with optional monthly service||Yes, but not sure of the simplicity||YES|
|Automated Drip Email campaigns||YES with optional monthly service||Yes, in the time-based workflow for enterprise and unlimited edition. Otherwise genius.com plugin.||YES|
|Measures return on investment of campaigns||Yes, but need to customize||YES|
|Campaign benchmarking||Yes, with APP exchange||YES – compare ROI trade show vs direct mail, email etc|
|Social||YES-Linked In||YES facebook, twitter and linkedin so you can see all contact activities|
|Online collaboration||YES- Schedule, start or join LotusLive, Cisco WebEx or GoToMeeting online meetings directly from Sugar|
|Data Intelligence/ Data mining||YES – Sage Business Info Services for ACT! By quote only, estimated $99/mth per user||YES, Jigsaw- added fee||YES- From free. $19/user and $49/mth per user (for $49 you can export and build lists and create custom sales triggers)- Features range and can include automated Hoovers company data, and discovers relationships between you and decision makers; Custom sales triggers!|
|PRICING||$359 per user for desktop software license, plus optional data intelligence with Hoovers, plus CONNECT $59.95/user/mth for cloud and mobile sync, plus $44.95/user/mth email nurturing (varies up to $129)||$65/mth for Professional Version, $125 for Enterprise Version, 1 year contract all users||Per User Monthly, 1 year agreement. $30, 45, Sugar Enterprise $60, Ultimate $100.|
|Backups||Your computer, you back up; some data will sync to the cloud||Daily back-up only in Ultimate|
|Dashboard reporting with graphics||YES||YES- most elegant|
|Dashboard by lead source||Drill down data, but not sure about graphics||YES- most elegant|
|Dashboard sales pipeline||Drill down data, but not sure about graphics||YES|
|Customization Capabilities||YES||Limited- additional fee applies in some cases||YES- customize layout, add modules and fields|
|Integrations- API support||YES, many 3rd party||Many options, additional fee for ‘objects’ may apply||YES- SOAP, REST, 3rd party|
|Support||90 days; extra fee after that||Extra fee||Unlimited all plans; 1 hour phone guarantee and assigned rep for Ultimate users.|
|De-dupe on import||YES||YES||YES|
After reviewing many options and other user reviews, the list was narrowed to three based on personal knowledge, market leadership, and ability to pass the basic criteria. Sage ACT! Premium 2012 is included because I’ve used Sage Act! off and on for 15 years, and Sage launched their new version this month with cloud, email, mobile and social integrations. I currently use Act! Premium for Workgroups with a $10 one-time fee iPhone mobile plugin, to sync scheduler and contacts, and I previously used ACT! Corporate about 2 years ago. There were many limitations in the corporate compared to the desktop version at the time, rendering it to be mostly a lead management tool, and not useful enough for sales agents to make it their primary tool. I’ve also used Salesforce off and on for about 3 years since the company was launched. I always went back to ACT! because I felt the cloud was too slow and there were limitations regarding contact fields. I’ve had custom options for so long via ACT!, it’s hard to live without them. The cloud was not drastically slow, but it’s noticeable when you’re using the system for contact activities vs on the desktop. I have no prior experience with Sugar and I don’t personally know anyone using it. PCMAG editors and users gave it the beta version a 4 star review in 2010.
CRM & Sales Contact Management Hosted Solution Recommendations:
Sage ACT! 2012 doesn’t even come close for return on investment for anything but a small user group. I love the product and there is a lot of value not mentioned in this article that you don’t really know until you use it and compare to others. (Since it failed to meet the basic criteria established, there is no reason to expound on other benefits. ) If you’re not using the optional cloud services, then choose ACT!. If you want the cloud, it’s very limited compared to other options. If you’re an ACT! user and want to stick with it, but upgrade to cloud service, you might want to look at SalesNexus instead. This is a nice comparison chart for Salesforce vs ACT! vs SalesNexus. LandslideCRM is also worth a look.
Salesforce is arguably the most robust solution on the market. But that comes at a price both monetarily and with time investment. For larger companies with big budgets and teams to plan out a complex integration of many other existing systems and resources, it’s a winner. However, that does not meet the initial criteria of simple and easy to roll out.
SUGAR 6 is the clear and convincing winner based on the criteria established and reading the online information. In addition to meeting the criteria, it also has other items on my wish list, including a free desktop version with automated sync. This is a true cloud combining web, mobile and desktop. The open source code is fairly easy to navigate and modify. Though it’s newer on the market, there is a strong community and support team to help users. Note: There is a FREE community version
Follow up on Sugar 6. I signed up for the free 7 day trial. Although it’s a demo account and not necessarily indicative of the live account, it was lightening fast. The dashboards are elegant and useful. There are many positives and great comparisons to ACT! features I already love, but rather than modify drop downs on the fly, users have to click on the admin button. All the changes I wanted to make, such as adding a field for SIC code, were done in the studio without going to the Module Builder where you can create your own custom tabs to navigate. The module builder can overwrite tabs, so just like ACT, some thought should go into planning to deploy for all users. However, out of the box, it’s pretty robust. I probably spent a day on ACT! layouts and the same will be needed here.
There are a few questions raised from using the trial account for about an hour and not knowing what difference the desktop version might have. Limitations- these may be able to be overcome, but not in trial version:
- Users can send emails from their account, but cannot send email blasts. ( Users can assign contacts to newsletter lists.)
- Email blasts are only from the administrator- one email set up for from etc
- It looks like to send a letter, you do it on your desktop then upload to record vs “write letter” or “write letter from template” and it pre fills info. There is a FREE SugarCRM MS Word plug-in for both mac and PC .
- Modifying drop downs is easy to do, but all changes must be made in that module. It cannot be done while you are in the contact section like in ACT!. This means it will take extra time to navigate back and
InsideView is a good plugin for time saving insights for prospects. Prices range from free to $99 per month. The free version is built into SUGARCRM.
Management can put in the cost of a campaign and see ROI at a glance by assigning leads to the campaign. You might want to write a script so the ROI displays floating periods- what the ROI was 30 days, 6 months, and 12 months. For example, trade show leads could take many months to close and others quicker or vice versa. The dashboard provides monetary ROI graphics to compare multiple campaigns and marketing methods. If Sugar doesn’t have a feature out of the box, it appears to almost anything can be customized fairly easily. You don’t need to be a programmer, but for more involved stuff, a little knowledge wouldn’t hurt.