Over the past several years, by leveraging the SaaS delivery model and introducing innovations like AppExchange , Salesforce.com has managed to make its name virtually synonymous with SFA technology. Yet Salesforce.com isn't the only major player in the SFA market — not by a long shot.
A wide range of vendors, including some of the biggest names in software, now offer high-caliber SFA apps. If you're thinking about introducing your sales team to SFA, you owe it to your business to check out at least some of these competing products to see if they offer an environment and features that more closely match your business's needs than you-know-who's software.
1. Microsoft : Microsoft Dynamics CRM is the software giant's SFA entry. The product is notable for its easy-to-use, Outlook-style user interface, as well as for its strong set of sales-automation functions. The application also leverages several powerful Microsoft technologies, such as SharePoint, for dashboards and portals, and SQL Server Reporting Services, for enhanced analytics and reporting functions.
2. Oracle Corp.: Oracle Siebel CRM On Demand is a sophisticated SFA application that has won plaudits from industry analysts and customers alike. The software's most noteworthy feature may be its Sales Process Coach, which helps businesses build sales best practices into the solution. Buyers can select from several different editions of the application, including a general-purpose version, as well as five industry-focused editions: wealth management, insurance, automotive, life sciences and high-tech.
3. FrontRange Solutions USA Inc.: FrontRange's GoldMine, which began life many years ago as a contact manager, has gradually blossomed into a full-fledged SFA application. Targeted at smaller sales forces, GoldMine provides basic contact, account and deal management capabilities. But the software betrays its humble origins by failing to provide features like product management, quoting, discounting and mobile device support. Still, for smaller businesses that don't want to spend a lot of money on potentially needless features, GoldMine can be a smart choice.
4. SugarCRM : The only significant open-source SFA application, SugarCRM provides strong core sales-automation features that buyers can extend and adapt to meet their specific needs. Don't confuse open-source with free, however. Although the vendor offers a free edition of SugarCRM targeted at deployments of 10 users or fewer, larger deployments will require paying for either the Professional Edition or Enterprise Edition, as well as IT support in most cases.
5. Sage Software: Sage Software's SalesLogix provides a set of powerful tools for managing contacts and accounts, as well as for handling sophisticated analytical functions. The application has been rapped by some as difficult to configure and customize, so organizations with little or no in-house IT support may wish to look for a less ambitious SFA application.
6. RightNow Technologies Inc.: RightNow Technologies' SFA application is provided within a complete CRM suite that also offers sales, marketing, service and analytical tools. The overall product is offered in both SaaS and on-premise versions, and buyers should be able to migrate from one platform to another rather easily should the need arise. Like Sage Software's SalesLogix, the RightNow application is powerful yet complex, so smaller organizations may wish to look for a less ambitious product.
7. Maximizer Software Inc.: Like RightNow's SFA application, Maximizer Software's SFA capabilities are buried within a full CRM suite called Enterprise. On the other hand, it's not difficult to configure and customize, so small businesses looking for a "ready-to-roll" solution may want to take a close look at this product. Unfortunately, Maximizer Software Enterprise's simplicity is also reflected in its lack of advanced development and customization tools, which limits its overall usefulness.
8. SAP: SAP Sales is an on-demand solution that aims to help customers meet everyday SFA business needs such as account, contact, activity, opportunity, pipeline, calendar and task management. The software also includes sales analytics to help companies better manage new and existing business opportunities, lead generation, sales execution and client engagement.
9. NetSuite Inc.: NetSuite offers SaaS-based sales automation as part of a comprehensive suite that spans CRM, ERP and e-commerce capabilities. The product is targeted at smaller businesses looking for a single solution that can handle everything from lead and opportunity management to orders to invoicing to accounts receivable, particularly in online retail, wholesale and high-tech industries.
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