CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management and with the explosion of mobile computing over recent years, these tools for itinerant workers like sales reps have become hot properties. The market is dominated by Salesforce.com, a pure online player with the slightly misleading slogan of “No Software” (they have to deal with the software, not you) and good old Microsoft, which offers both online and on premise CRM solutions via its Dynamics brand.

Both offerings are extensive, powerful and quite complex to evaluate. If you list all the features and then try to do a cost-benefit analysis, you will end up with a spinning head. Microsoft appears to be cheaper per seat per month, but Salesforce has much more integration with social media and other online systems. If you think you might need to start off online but then move to an on premise solution, Salesforce.com is out of the loop from the starting gate. Etc., etc.

So rather than attempting a full, balanced assessment of which is the best solution for you, just ask yourself this simple question:

“Is the use of Outlook email crucial to your customer relationship management?”

If the answer to the question above is yes, then go with Microsoft. If you use Gmail, Yahoo or some other messaging system, then by all means consider using Salesforce.com.

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