For the SMB
For small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), investing in mobile CRM is far from daunting. If anything, a business should already have some form of CRM in place and if that is the case, that solution probably offers mobility.
Once implemented, remaining current, relevant, and secure is the biggest challenge. “From an implementation standpoint, due to advances in mobile computing, businesses have to do little more than tell employees the name of the server they have access to using their CRM password. Of course, these businesses need to assure themselves that they have the proper steps in place to ensure security of their CRM systems,” shares Jeff Wood, product manager, CDC Software.
Due to this ease of use, mobile CRM is projected to rapidly accelerate. According to Aberdeen’s study, 44 percent of those in the best in class segment consider sales mobility initiatives such as mobile CRM as absolutely vital to the health of their companies.
“Businesses prioritize technology investments that help them get and stay closer to their customers. We see strong interest and adoption from SMBs and expect this trend to significantly accelerate due to a number of factors, including cost effectiveness, rapid adoption of tablets, widespread adoption of advanced cell phones, and the relative ease of implementation,” agrees Brian Craig, VP, marketing, CWR Mobility.
CRM Solutions that Move
Included below are user-friendly mobile CRM solutions targeted toward SMBs.
CDC’s mobile CRM solution provides a rich user interface, the ability to work both offline or online, and robust security features. It is available for many Android-based devices, BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad, and Windows Phone. List price is $15,000 per server plus $600 per user. Price is specific to customer, as configurations vary.
Cellit, LLC offers smaller companies Cellit Spark, which starts at as low as $49 a month. Interested parties sign up at cellitspark.com. Larger companies looking for account management and data collection look at plans that start at $225 per month, including 2,500 messages, referred to as Cellit Studio. Both programs utilize direct marketing via text messaging.
CWR Mobility’s latest release is CWR Mobile CRM 2011, which provides both online and offline access to CRM data with cross-platform support for both smartphones and tablets offered from leading manufacturers. In the cloud, a CWR Mobile CRM customer can add mobility to its Microsoft Dynamics CRM online for $22.50 per user per month. For on-premise deployments, an SMB can add mobility for as little as over $200 a device and an Enterprise customer $400.
Maximizer Software Inc. recently launched its CRM product, Maximizer CRM Live, as a Web-based monthly subscription. The cloud-based application offers the same benefits as the original on-premise software solution. Both are built on the same data model, meaning users can seamlessly move from one to the other. Maximizer CRM Live starts as low as $39 per user per month for five or more users, or $49 per month for less than five users.
Sage SalesLogix Mobile is available at no extra charge to Sage SalesLogix v.7.5.3 customers. This expands functionality to Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, and iPad, as well as HTML5/CSS3-compliant browsers such as Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, and Safari. The solution requires no mobile middleware and works with SalesLogix on premise and through the cloud. A task-oriented user interface allows the user to create, view, and edit; access a Quick Actions menu; manage schedules; and log email and phone interactions.
Salesforce.com’s mobile CRM solution is offered in two versions—Mobile Lite and Salesforce Mobile—for both iPhone and BlackBerry users. Mobile Lite is free for all Salesforce editions and includes support for leads, accounts, contacts, opportunities, tasks, events, cases, solutions, assets, and dashboards. Salesforce Mobile is available with the Unlimited Edition of Salesforce, and can be added on to Professional and Enterprise editions. Both solutions offer customizable interfaces, security, and an intuitive user experience.
Through Salesforce.com’s Chatter product, a social enterprise collaboration is available. Users share status updates with co-workers, post documents, follow records, and collaborate privately through groups via Facebook. Chatter is free and users do not have to be Salesforce.com members.
Drawbacks to Mobile CRM
As with any new technology, drawbacks or challenges are presented along the way. Mobile CRM needs to be used appropriately, stresses David Wachs, president, Cellit.
Extra costs incur when it comes to security. Creating additional storage servers to minimize risk of data being wiped or stolen is essential, but expensive. Business must recognize both the strengths and weaknesses of mobile CRM before investing.
“Maximize your use of mobile CRM by focusing on the ideal capabilities like how it improves sales and support—not how small the screen is, so working with and analyzing huge sets of data isn’t productive,” explains Ritter.
Consumerization presents challenges. Craig says this is when a company can no longer enforce a corporate standard. Employees bring personal devices to work and expect them to be accessible across all business systems. This new era of CRM translates to more work for IT departments, who must support and maintain a mix of platforms.
Additionally, despite success with Wi-Fi hotspots in a number of locations, there are still areas across the globe where cell service is not accessible. Or if it is, connectivity is limited. Offline mobile CRM solutions are in the works and must advance at a similar pace to keep up with demand—as sales forces sync regularly. Sales Mobility: Quotas Untethered shares that 56 percent of best in class companies have sales representatives that connect to the Internet prior to or during prospect/customer meetings to support activities with real time information.
Sales Growth is Calling
Sales are the heart of every company. Users look for ways to inexpensively grow business to gain the maximum amount of profit. Mobile CRM is an effective solution. Strides made over the last ten to 15 years provide efficient, user friendly, and secure solutions for all.
“Companies need a solution that allows them to go about their own method of working. A fully customizable, mobile CRM solution does that. In addition to being fully customizable, built-in data encryption and security features ensure data remains safe,” concludes Lumby.
Businesses should learn to effectively use mobile CRM. To do so means to understand and accept its limitations. Expansive graphics outlining statistics and analytics may not view well on small screens, however the fact that the information is readily accessible should be enough.