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SMBs get some CRM satisfaction

In a new Gartner survey, small and midsized companies reveal their CRM successes and rate the vendors that best meet their needs.

Small and midsized businesses are satisfied with their CRM software in ways that their counterparts in the enterprise...

can only dream about, according to a new report from Gartner Inc.

The survey of 130 SMBs shows overwhelming proof of the benefits of CRM initiatives, according to Wendy Close, Gartner CRM research director and the report's author.

Of the 20 vendors represented, Salesforce.com, San Francisco, and Onyx Software Corp., Bellevue, Wash., scored highest in user satisfaction. Overall, 64% said they had achieved a measurable ROI, a figure that Close suggested might be significantly lower if Gartner had challenged companies to provide hard data.

SMBs benefit from less-expensive software investments and fewer employees who need to buy in to a project to make it work, she said.

"An [application service provider] for a small business can cost as little as $900 per user per year to get your foot in the door," Close said. "The point of entry is really low. If you're using spreadsheets or paper napkins for forecasting, implementing Microsoft CRM or Salesforce.com is going to have a pretty big impact."

About half of those surveyed said they are using CRM software to provide a 360-degree view of the customer.

The report found that price isn't everything for SMBs. Close said features trump cost.

Still, Salesforce.com scored highest in user satisfaction, even though its features didn't rate that high. The hosted provider also scored well in upgrades and support. Users said they liked the low upfront costs of the hosted model and little need for IT support.

Close said that, given Onyx's financial struggles, she was surprised with its second-place finish for overall user satisfaction. The survey found that Onyx provides a good alternative to Salesforce.com for companies with more complex needs.

In contrast, Onyx's midmarket rival Pivotal Corp. scored below average in user satisfaction because of the level and quality of its support.

SalesLogix, the midmarket offering from Best Software Inc., was deemed a good value for the price but light on features with technology that is "a little old," Close said.

Microsoft CRM, a version 1 product released this year, scored above average in user satisfaction. Users cited issues with scalability, flexibility and unstable mobile sales offerings, however. Many Gartner clients are holding off on Microsoft CRM until the next release, Close said.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Article: Customers grade CRM vendors

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