Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software assists businesses in managing their lead flow in a more effective manner in order to ensure better conversions by assisting users in managing their day-to-day tasks.
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Traditionally, CRMs have been implemented in-house, and businesses have had to spend a significant amount of money on perpetual licenses as well as annual maintenance contracts (AMCs) to receive updates.
Nonetheless, as the SaaS (Software as a Service) industry continues to grow, many new players have emerged with their own solution that is simple to deploy because the customer only needs to subscribe to the service and everything else is handled by the company (which is providing the solution) itself.
It is possible to save money while also providing real-time upgrades to the software.
These SaaS-based solutions are relatively simple to use, are accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week from anywhere in the world, and allow for greater customization than an in-house solution.
In response to the growth of the industry, many players developed their own solutions, which were either free (ad-supported) or offered at rock-bottom prices in order to compete with larger players such as Salesforce. However, not all free software is ad-supported; some is open-source and users can install it on their own computers or on the servers of others.
Therefore, we can categorize the CRM software industry into four types of businesses.
- Software that is free and open source.
- Free software that is supported by advertisements.
- CRM software that is available for purchase at an affordable price.
- Paid software that requires extensive customization and is prohibitively expensive.
Every category solution provider targets a different set of customers because no single solution, not even the highly customisable software, can fit all types of customers.
Open-source software is available for free
Everyone is a fan of free software, and open-source is the de facto standard. Download the original source code and host it on your own servers, with no need to pay for licenses at any point in the future. It’s simple and reasonably priced.
But hold on a second. Yes, they are completely free to download and install, but they are not the most affordable options. You may wonder why this is the case. It is not enough to simply download the code to solve your problem.
- Obtain servers for the purpose of deploying the code. There is a charge for this service.
- You require a developer to make changes to the code in accordance with your specifications. You will require a permanent developer to oversee the management of the project.
A system administrator will be required to manage the servers, perform upgrades, and keep them secure. Add up all of these costs, and you’ll find that the free software you just downloaded costs you a fortune in recurring expenses, as managing human resources is significantly more difficult than paying a monthly fee.
Free Software that is supported by advertisements
Another option is to use free CRM software that is supported by advertisements. There is no need to worry about maintaining the code or hiring a system administrator to manage the servers, and the only thing you will have to pay for is to click on a few advertisements while using the software. Free is the best, and I personally enjoy free things, but there are no free lunches in this world.
When you allow a publisher to use your personal or business data to show them personalized ads, you put your privacy as well as the privacy of your customers at risk, because the publisher has access to every data item in your customer relationship management system.
A very high risk exists that your data will be misused by other third parties for promotional purposes based on your personalized information. To summarize, unless you are using the software for non-professional purposes, it is not recommended that you use ad-supported free software.
CRM Software That Isn’t Free (For Small Businesses)
There is no shortage of customer relationship management (CRM) software available on the market that is both affordable and simple to use for small businesses.
Cheap CRM software is a good way to get started on your lead management journey, and depending on the service provider, you can get many features that are on par with those found in more expensive CRM software, but they may not be as customizable as the more expensive CRM software.
CRM applications are available at a variety of price points across the market at various levels. Examples include Intueri CRM, which provides lead management, contact management, and helpdesk functionality, as well as invoicing functionality, all for under $100 per month.
There are a few things to consider before implementing a customer relationship management system:
- Is your service provider required to provide you with a Service Level Agreement (SLA) for uptime?
- What is their data security policy, and how safe is your information?
- Is there a discount for renewing for a long period of time, and how long is the price lock-in period? Don’t get caught off guard with a 50 percent price increase after months of diligently entering all of your information into their CRM.
The more features it has, the better it is for you. You wouldn’t want to spend money on three different pieces of software from three different vendors if you could get them all from a single vendor. While more features are always preferable, you should never choose a CRM solely on the basis of the list of features it provides, as you may only require 10% of the features it provides. As a result, paying $500/m for 50 features when you only require 10 features, which can be purchased for $200/m, is a waste of money.
CRM Software that is paid for (For Enterprise Customers)
As a business, you should never experiment with free software, even if it is intended for small teams, because the information you have about your customers is far more valuable than the money you will spend on the software itself.
However, even the cheapest solutions are not worth considering, not because there is a problem with the credibility of the solution provider, but because of the customisations that must be made to the software in order to work properly.
Large-scale software solutions such as Salesforce, Oracle, and SAP can accommodate a high degree of customization. However, if a small provider’s solution is precisely what you are looking for, it may make more sense to work with them.
As an example, if you are in the business vertical and you require a way to track your field force, a CRM to manage leads, and a helpdesk to manage customer queries, you can choose a solution like Intueri because we have a ready-to-use solution for the same. On the other hand, even large corporations such as SAP will require a significant amount of time and money to provide the same solution.
To summarize, the best way to choose a customer relationship management system for your business is to consider the following points:
- The service is free only if it is for personal use and data privacy is not a major concern for you.
- Paid if you require support, data privacy, service level agreements, or customisation.
- If you have a system administrator and a team of developers available to help you put it into action, go open-source.
- If you need a lot of customizations and an ERP-like system, this is the CRM solution for you if you are willing to pay more than $10K in annual fees.