If you own a small or medium sized business and you are looking to improve how you market, sell and provide service to your customers, I’m sure you’ve heard that Microsoft, Oracle and Salesforce.com have a ‘CRM solution’ that’s just right for you.
Here’s my advice: don’t buy it.
Brand name software has way more firepower than you actually need or will ever use and you’re going to overpay for it. Enterprise software is designed to deal with challenges you don’t have, like large transaction volumes, multi-language and multi-currency requirements, integration to disparate systems and managing hundreds even thousands of people spread across different countries
In order to support these requirements, the products are built on complex platforms that are often so functionally rich that they become too cumbersome to use. In order to sell these products into the small and mid-size business (SMB) market, the companies have removed some of the features and lowered the price, but this does not change the architecture and complexity of these products, or magically make them right for small to mid-size businesses.
I realize that people want the comfort of buying from a brand name. I get it, but history has continued to show that buying a brand name software solution does not necessarily lead to success or a return on your investment. In fact, the Merkle Group Inc. surveyed 352 executives and found that 63 percent of CRM initiatives fail organizations and their leaders. Merkle strictly surveyed executives at $1+ billion US-based organizations, who almost certainly purchased a brand name CRM solution. If it didn’t work for the big guys, it’s probably not going to work for you.
If you are a small business owner, you believe in the advantages of non-brand name products and services. Although you likely have competitors who are way bigger than you, customers and clients still choose you. Perhaps this is because you personalize your service, really listen to feedback, train customers on your product or make recommendations that are truly in your customer’s best interest. If you are in business, you must be good at solving a specific problem or helping people achieve a specific goal.
So if you’re a small to mid-size business on the hunt for new technology, does it make sense to limit yourself to the two or three brand name solutions that offer everything you don’t need? Technology is not a secret health tonic for sick businesses. The point is that software should be a means to specific ends, and the brand recognition of the software will have little bearing on its success in your organization.
Shut the door on feature-crazy brand names and ask yourself: What is our specific goal? What are we trying to achieve? Then pick a solution that will help you meet your objective. There are very good reasons to eat brand name foods, but when it comes to niche software like CRM, be pickier.