Customer relationship management, or CRM, is a pretty hot topic for SMBs these days, or so it seems from the number of CRM-related products that we've seen lately. And it's no wonder a good CRM program can help you track sales, organize opportunities and consolidate leads so that you can improve efficiency, increase sales and help your business grow.
SmartCompany, based out of Walnut Creek, California and one of the latest CRM contenders, offers up SmartCompany CRM. According to CEO Joe Zuffoletto, this hosted, Web-based service was designed for SMBs that are either altogether new to CRM or have been relying on desktop software CRM and now want the benefits of a Web-based program.
"We're targeting our product at companies that need the benefits of a solid CRM system, but don't have either the time or the money to invest in an enterprise-level solution," said Zuffoletto. A typical SmartCompany customer has between one and 50 million dollars in revenue and has between five and fifty people registered to use the CRM system, he said.
A Word About Web-Hosted Services
Hosted services, also known as ASPs (application service providers) aren't new they've been around for several years now. But the increased availability of broadband Internet and improved storage technology has helped hosted-software services become a cost-effective alternative for SMBs.
Hosted software services scale easily as your company grows use the features you need when you need them. Hosted services also eliminate ongoing software maintenance and tech support costs. And since all you need to access the program is a Web browser, a hosted service works well if you have employees on the road or working at home.
|First Up The calendar and to-do list are the first functions you see when you login to SmartCompany CRM.|
Zuffoletto calls SmartCompany CRM a horizontal solution adding that it's designed for any line of business in any industry. The software's comprised of nine modules. The Contact Management section lets you track accounts, contacts, categories, notes, events and tasks. The software's also designed to organize and track other major processes that you'll find in the other eight modules: Opportunities, Orders, Projects, Products, Participants, Reports, File Sharing and Administration.
Since the software's hosted, the company periodically releases new updates. The latest round of enhancements came out in January and include:
- File Sharing Upload common files (Word, PowerPoint, ZIP or PDF) and attach it to specific data elements such as accounts, contacts, opportunities or orders, so that every registered user in your organization can access them
- One-Button Import Click once to import contacts and other data from Salesforce.com, ACT, Goldmine and Outlook
- Account Hierarchies Simplifies activity tracking and/or organizing within large client companies with multiple divisions
- Auto-Assigned Order/Opportunity Numbers Lets you customize and assign tracking numbers to opportunities and orders
- Multiple Locations Designed for customers who have multiple addresses for shipping, billing or personal contact. Lets you store any number of locations for accounts, contacts, opportunities and orders
- One-Button Roll-Up One-click account or project analysis. Cross-reference and analyze data common to accounts, contacts, or opportunities
- Follow-Up Tasks Follow-up completed tasks without leaving the original task screen
Available in Two Flavors
SmartCompany CRM comes in two variations. The first is called Startup, and it focuses on sales force automation. You get both the Contact Management and Opportunities capabilities. The latter module lets you follow your sales process from generating leads to closing deals.
Pricing: A one-year subscription for the Startup version costs $995 for five people. Each additional person costs $199.
The second version Pro, includes the same two modules as Startup plus the tracking capabilities in the remaining six modules.
Pricing: A one-year subscription for, Pro, costs $1,995 for five people. Each additional person costs another $399.
According to Zuffoletto, the pricing works out to about $16 per-person, per-month for Startup and $33 per-person per-month for Pro. Both versions include the new SmartCompany Toolbar that works with Microsoft Internet Explorer. The tool bar's designed to make searching your SmartCompany database easier. Type a contact name into the toolbar to initiate a search without having to stop what you were doing to log in to the database.
Zuffoletto says SmartCompany offers SMBs more functionality at a lower price point than any other company in the small business market. "We're the only company that offers these kinds of features in a package small businesses can afford."
Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com
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