MS Outlook based CRM Software to Manage Your Small Business Sales, Marketing & Customer Service

If you are shopping for a small business Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software solution and you run MS Outlook, the answer might be closer at hand than you realise!

Not familiar with CRM applications? CRM software will revolutionize the way you approach the sales, marketing and service aspects of your business. Your sales will flourish through improved sales tracking and automation; your customer service and customer loyalty will strengthen with enhanced relationship management and your marketing costs will be reduced through better targetting.

Microsoft Outlook does a good job of managing one's email, but is burdened by a weak database engine, and it certainly cannot perform all the tasks expected of a CRM solution. But what if it could?

Entree this relatively new breed of Outlook based CRM products. They do more than merely integrate to MS Outlook - they are actually embedded inside Outlook and appear as an integral part of the system. So when you open up your MS Outlook you are automatically opening your CRM system, too.

There are many advantages to Outlook based CRM software compared to alternative CRM solutions.

Here are a few benefits you can typically expect:
* Cost savings. These Outlook based CRM applications are often considerably less expensive per seat than their counterparts.
* The standard features of Outlook are greatly enhanced. You will enjoy better sales automation, marketing and customer service functionality, as well as improved email, document, task and reporting management.
* Strengthened database. Most vendors use more robust database engines than the standard Outlook PST database. One can manage bigger lists quicker, more reliably and efficiently. Some also offer an upgrade path to industrial strength SQL database engines if needed.
*Database sharing. You can now share your Outlook database/s (or, in Outlook terminology, Addressbooks) across your network.
*No need for MS Exchange. You can share your database with other users across your network without having to purchase and support this expensive, complex and clunky beast.
*Calendar sharing across your network is also typically supported.
*Much readier acceptance of your CRM initiative by your staff due to their existing familiarity with MS Outlook.
*Reduced training costs. As your staff already know (or should know) how to use Outlook, the induction period is dramatically reduced and less expensive compared to other CRM software.
*Reduced support costs. As you already have the Outlook platform installed, little more is required.
*Happier user experience. You won't have to constantly toggle between Outlook and some CRM application as they are now effectively one product.
*Integration and synchronization between Outlook and external CRM software in no longer necessary.
*Minimal installation costs. Without over-simplifying the process, you typically just download, install and customize to suit your needs.

Certain software products in this genre also offer synchronization with hand-held or PDA devices.

Many of these applications are developed from the ground up in .NET, Microsoft's new development platform, making for slicker internet and email capabilities and more transparent software integration.

If you are running a small business using MS Outlook, these CRM solutions deserve your serious consideration. Match the right product to your needs and you could come in well under budget and in record time.

Perry Norgarb has specialized in CRM solutions for small businesses for the last 16 years.

Contact him or find out more about Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Contact Management and other Sales Tracking software tips and solutions for small businesses at:

Find out more about Outlook based CRM solutions for small businesses

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