Hosted CRM selection process – A behind the scenes look

By David Lewis, co-founder, executive vice president and COO of Payroll Solutions

In today’s challenging economy, businesses are working harder than ever in their due diligence before making a purchase—trying to ensure that they get the most bangs for their buck. Our company, Payroll Solutions, is no different.

We are a payroll, Time and Attendance and HR software services company, dedicated to providing our customers with a combination of the best technology and the highest customer service.  We selected Soffront CRM Suite to improve efficiency in all aspects of our business. Before choosing Soffront, we embarked on an extensive review process, to ensure that we made the best decision possible. My behind the scenes insights of our selection process may help you as you make future CRM decisions for your company.

The contenders: both large and small CRM solutions

We started the extensive screening process by assembly a team of six department heads. This team compiled a comprehensive list of more than thirteen large and small CRM software vendors, including Microsoft, SalesForce.com, Sage CRM, Aplicor, SalesBoom, and C2CRM to name a few. We then conducted an extensive review of each CRM product, narrowing the finalists down to three vendors.

The team’s top three finalists included Microsoft, SalesForce.com and Soffront. The other contenders were eliminated for various reasons which included items such as lack of functionality, weak technology, poor customer service, or a poor fit for our size.

The final three includes big names

Our review team met with the representatives of the top three finalists numerous times and conducted comprehensive demos over a period of several weeks. Strengths and weakness of each product are summarized below.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM

We liked some aspects of the product (such as strong integration with Outlook) but overall thought that the product was too confusing, and it would take us too long to set up. From what I could see needed to be done, it would have taken us years to set up, and we would have needed an IT person to spend quite a bit of time programming. And the price for all of this set up was outrageous. In addition, we needed a strong workflow engine to automate our approval processes. This function was missing in Dynamics and it didn’t help Microsoft win our business.

SalesForce.com CRM

We initially liked some aspects of SalesForce.com CRM, because we had used salesforce.com for a number of years. The SalesForce.com system could do most of the things we needed using their AppExchange partners, but the product was not visually appealing, and it was hard to navigate. SalesForce.com has since rolled out a new interface, which is a bit better to look at, but still has navigation issues. SalesForce.com’s high monthly price per user didn’t help us either. Although the set up price was reasonable, the monthly price for the hosted CRM was not even close to being competitive—their price was almost three times higher per user. I tried to negotiate a lower price with SalesForce.com, but that process proved futile and frustrating. The biggest negative for Salesforce.com was their simplistic workflow engine. Like Microsoft Dynamics, it fell short of our complex workflow and automated approval process needs.

And the winner is … Soffront!

After conducting product demos with the top contenders, we ultimately chose Soffront CRM based on functionality of the product, customer service, and price. Five out of the six reviewers at our company selected Soffront as their top choice, and the sixth reviewer eventually came around after seeing Soffront’s price tag.  All six agreed that Soffront met their needs the best out of all three finalists and the price was well within our budget.

Payroll Solutions expects that Soffront CRM will make a significant positive impact on our business. Using Soffront CRM, we will dramatically improve our efficiency companywide. Soffront will be able to handle 95% of all of our processes, such as workflow, SAS 70 procedures, customer service, sales, marketing, technical support, and administration. I am convinced that we made the best choice. Soffront will help us become more proactive instead of reactive.

About the author:

David Lewis is the co-founder, executive vice president and COO Payroll Solutions (www.payrollsolutions.net). When Lewis helped found Payroll Solutions in 1994, the company’s mission was to provide their customers with state-of-the-art technology combined with unmatched client services.

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