3 Forever FREE CRM systems to try for the New Year!

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A lot of small businesses I know are currently using spreadsheets to manage their contacts and are finding a lot of issues with using this as a way to manage their contacts (understandably!).  They have told me that they really need a CRM system for the new year but don’t have a big budget and also have no idea where to start or where to look.

So fear not!  We are here to take out all the hard work for you in finding a system that fits your business AND your budget.  Our Christmas and New Year gift to you is a list of 3 FREE (YES FREE!) CRM systems that do a darn good job of managing your contacts and some even have other bonus features that can supercharge your business to propel you forward in 2014.

So without further ado, here they are!

1. Bitrix 24

Bitrix 24, we believe, gives you amazing features  for  FREE! It is more than just a CRM system.  It is a united work space which handles the many aspects of daily operations and tasks in the form of a cloud based social intranet.   Some of the great features the free version has are:

  • Free for up to 12 users!
  • 5Gb of online storage
  • Social Communications
  • Tasks and Projects
  • Calendars
  • File and Documents (sharing and collaboration)
  • and last but not least – a built in CRM which includes:
    • Contact management
    • Sales/pipeline management
    • Invoice management
    • An advanced business process  workflow builder (it has a great GUI interface)
    • Website integration -connect your online store and your contact forms to pass sales and leads data directly into your CRM.

It doesn’t include a case management/support module in the free version, but for most small businesses, the existing features are more than sufficient.

2. Capsule CRM

Capsule CRM has a great, user friendly interface which is quite simple to use.  The features in their free edition are:

  • Free for up to 2 users
  • 10Mb Storage
  • Calendar and Activities
  • Automated workflows
  • Contact management (up to 250 contacts)
  • Opportunity/Sales Pipeline Management (unlimited)
  • Case Management (unlimited cases)

There is no module for invoice management but if  you want to upgrade  to the professional plan for only $12 per user per month, you have access to integration with Xero cloud based accounting software which handles your invoicing.

3. Zoho CRM

Zoho CRM

Zoho CRM has grown in leaps and bounds in the past few years and now offers an Enterprise version which includes territory management.  However, it still offers it’s free version for small businesses with the basic CRM  functionality to cater for their needs including social media integration.   It Features in the free version include:

  • Free for up to 3 users
  • 250Mb file storage/organisation
  • Lead, Contact and Account management
  • Opportunity/Sales Pipeline Management
  • Tasks, Calendar, Call Log, and Notes
  • Integration with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
  • 2 Email templates
  • 1 Web-to-Lead form for integration with your website
  • 1 Web-to-Contact form for integration with your website

The great thing about all 3 of the CRM systems featured here, is that they give you the opportunity to upgrade at any time as your business grows.

So what are you waiting for?  Get 2014 off to a great start for your business with a brand new CRM system and watch your business thrive!

Forbes Says That Social CRM Means Business in 2012

CRM Solutions
Social CRM will take off in 2012

By Adam Sarner

Gartner, Inc.

Social CRM Goes Beyond the Hype

With spending on social applications to help sales, marketing and customer service processes expected to surpass $1billion worldwide this year, the loudest hype around social CRM is over, and organizations are rolling up their sleeves and getting down to business. While adoption has been highest among business-to-consumer (B2C) type organizations, business to business companies are now aggressively investing in social. By year-end 2013, B2B organizations using social CRM applications will represent 25 percent of all projects worldwide, which is an increase from fewer than 10 percent in 2011.

However, while market growth is assured during the next two years, the ultimate success of social CRM will depend on how well companies and social CRM technology providers can accelerate through the inevitable social expectation bust and make social projects more than just “engagement” objectives and actually tie social activities to clear and measurable business objectives.

Social CRM applications are used by sales, marketing and customer service organizations to encourage the capture and sharing of data among users, ceding levels of decision control to a community. Users include customers, as well as sales, marketing and service organizations, to create brand awareness, gather information, build trust, evaluate decisions, sell and aid post purchase activities. Social CRM applications can have both internal and external company users, and they can be public or private, outsourced or hosted, and make connections to external communities.

Although the traditional CRM software market continues in double-digit growth, numerous challenges will be faced. “Social CRM” in a sense is just “CRM” as it was intended to be by academics and analysts during the past decade. CRM is a business strategy and an approach, not a technology. But despite the education around transforming a business around the wants and needs of customers in a profitable way, many organizations approached CRM from an operational or technology perspective. The emphasis was on the “M” for management rather than the “R” for relationship. Technology didn’t help either, with many CRM systems designed to do things to the customer (sell to, market to, etc) rather than with them. The rise of social is forcing organizations and technology to readdress this balance with mutual engagement.

The bottom line is that social CRM works only if users want to participate in communities, and they will do so only if they perceive value from it. At the same time, companies need to realize measurable benefits; otherwise, it makes no business sense to expend resources on social. Social CRM applications therefore need to be far more customer-centric than traditional CRM applications.

To be successful with social CRM, organizations need to be much less focused on how an organization can manage the customer, and much more focused on how the customer can manage the relationship. Without any benefit for the customer to participate, communities and social networks die resulting in no benefits to the organization using the social CRM applications.

It is essential that organizations audit all social CRM projects against mutual benefits – what’s in it for the company and what’s in it for the customer or community. If clear benefits cannot be identified for both parties, or if those benefits are unbalanced, then the project is doomed to failure.

Social CRM strategy must also be refined on an ongoing basis. Social media is constantly evolving and new uses are frequently being discovered. For that reason, it’s vital to regularly revisit how much “relationship” control you are ceding, how you will staff the effort, who will be involved within the company and the community, and which goals will take priority.

Adam Sarner is a research director at Gartner, covering the global CRM industry.

Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/gartnergroup/2012/02/16/social-crm-means-business-in-2012/