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Limitations of SFA/contact management tools

My company provides lead generation and sales consulting services to emerging technology companies. From a CRM perspective, it is a many-to-many relationship among our customers and their prospects with multiple cross-overs. Although Salesforce.com has a one-to-many architecture, I am currently using its contact mgmt. and SFA functionalities, jury-rigging it to meet our needs by naming each client campaign as an opportunity and associating all activities and touches of the prospect to the opportunity (rather than to the account). This method is database intensive, and I lose the ability to use opportunity management as it was intended. Is there a CRM tool that is based on a many-to-many architecture? I've seen CRM software for manufacturers' but that is based more on hardgoods and quotes, rather than services and leads. Your suggestion is much appreciated.

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You have run up against one of the customization limits of many of the small market, hosted CRM solutions. To solve your problem correctly, you are going to have to move up to a more robust CRM solution -- something like Pivotal, E.piphany, Onyx, PeopleSoft, or SalesLogix. You need the ability to define your data model and relationship rules. The work-arounds you described can work for a while, but in the long run you will remain disappointed and will likely not satisfy your firm's business goals.

This was first published in September 2003

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