Microsoft CRM and No-Frills Cadillacs
In today's business world it's all but impossible to escape Microsoft. Either you're using MS applications, developing your own, or negotiating your company's acquisition by this techno-behemoth. I must that the company is a daily part of my life (in fact I'm typing this article on MS Word). I've found however, that although Microsoft develops many versatile business software products, the company's 'one size-fits-all mentality goes only so far. I'm referring to the Microsoft CRM system. For you lay-people out there, CRM (customer relationship management) systems are designed to help you gather and interpret customer data in order to anticipate future customer purchasing demands and trends.
Besides costing substantially more than other CRM systems on the market, the Microsoft CRM system lacks some of the great features that come standard with other systems. I like this analogy: Microsoft CRM can be compared to a Cadillac with no extras; no A/C, no four-disc ABS, no cruise control, no sun roof, no radio, no power locks or windows. Sure it'll get you from point A to point B, but you'll not be making the trip comfortably. And all this at a premium price. Now you have other CRM systems out on the market; let's compare these to an option-packed Hyundai. Sure it doesn't have the long reputation of the Caddy, people may not notice you coming down the road, maybe it only has a 50k mile warranty to the Caddy's 75k, but all that will be quickly forgotten as you enjoy the deluxe stereo system, sun roof, leather seats while you find the shortest route from A to B with your GPS. Best of all, the sticker price is a third of what they wanted for the Cadillac. Just like you can't rely on brand name alone to sell cars, Microsoft shouldn't rely on its former success to sell CRM systems. This is however, par for the proverbial Microsoft course, i.e. Microsoft Office upgrade.
Ok, let's get back to the Microsoft CRM system. What CRM features might you be interested in that not included in the Microsoft CRM package? How about power dialing? Many comprehensive CRM systems are used by out bound call centers to not only track customer leads, but to call customers to follow up; the bottleneck is that the human hand can only dial so fast. Power dialing allows your sales agents to make up to 40 more sales calls a day. Last time I checked, the Microsoft CRM didn't offer this option. Voice messaging is another time saving feature that allows your agents to record a sales message designed to elicit a customer call back. Many CRM systems also come with features that make business-to-business (B2B) marketing and sales calls much more effective.
Although Microsoft CRM may tout the easy interface of it's product with other MS applications, other all-in-one CRM packages either accomplish MS interface, or make MS applications unnecessary with other innovative techniques and technologies. And they do this for less than you'll pay for a comparable Microsoft CRM system.
I'd recommend taking a few Hyundai's for a test drive today.
Cameron Brown is an internet marketer specializing in www.10xmarketing.com/res/ranking-automation.asp">ranking automation. For more information on www.insidesales.com/microsoft-crm.html">Microsoft CRM alternatives, please visit www.insidesales.com/lp_inside_sales.html">Inside Sales.