by November 1, 2011 0 comments

Today, CRM software has become essential for just about every organization, thanks to increasing competition, and more demanding customers. Without a proper CRM solution in place, it’s extremly difficult to streamline customer management processes. How long for instance, does the sales head keep chasing its sales team to find out how many calls they’ve made in a day? How long do you keep ‘waiting’ for the most basic data to come in, like target achievement, top ten customers for different product lines, marcap situation, collections status, etc? In today’s highly competitive world, you should be able to get this data when you need it, rather than waiting for the ‘Excel’ reports to come in!! So if you can relate yourself to this situation, then it’s time you started to explore a good CRM solution. The good news is that it has become easier than ever to get your own CRM software, without much of a hassle, because it’s available in the cloud via the SaaS (software as a service) model. So you don’t have to worry about procuring hardware, software, or the setup. Everything is given to you out-of-the-box. You just have to concentrate on configuring it as per your requirement. Even more important than that is to choose the right one with the right features that suite your business needs. Most cloud based CRM solutions are available in multiple editions, giving you the flexibility to choose one that matches closest to your requirements. They’re easier to customize, since they’re in the cloud. They’re easier to access because they’re web-based and mobile friendly. They don’t require any technical skills because the vendor will do it for you (for an additional fee, of course). All you have to do is choose the right one. Here, we’ve compared four of the most popular cloud based CRM solutions. What’s more, we’ve given detailed comparison tables for features and pricing. These will help you understand what sort of features are available, and at what price points. There’s something available for every business need, including a completely free edition for up to 5 users.


This CRM solution has both commercial as well as Open Source flavors. It has a wide range of features like sales-force automation, marketing campaigns, Mobile CRM, Social CRM and reporting, which makes it suitable for companies of all sizes. It provides integrated management of corporate information on contacts and accounts, sales leads and opportunities, plus activities such as phone calls, online meetings and assignments. SugarCRM’s Web-based forms make it easy to track new customers. It’s main interface is quite neat and easy to use. There are one-touch tabs on the top of your screen to do various tasks, like create an account, contact, lead, opportunity, log a call, send email, schedule a meeting, create a task, connect with LotusLive meeting. Sugar Enterprise provides all features of a fully functional CRM. It also includes plug-ins for Microsoft Office, VoIP, customer portal and Lotus-Live. Sales people can work on lead queues individually, converting leads into opportunities with possible sales forecasts and follow-up targets. It provides sample data for trial versions, a healthy 60 GB storage with the enterprise version, and allows you to connect with different social networks. It also allows you to import and export records from your account. On the smartphone side, SugarCRM offers Sugar Mobile, a Web-based UI that runs in WebKit browsers for mobiles, like those found on iPhones and Android-powered devices, as well as a BlackBerry version and an iPad-optimized version. However, all paid versions require a minimum commitment of five users per month, and also a minimum bond of a year.

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Bottomline: If you are ready to spend money then, on-demand SugarCRM completes all your needs offering user-friendly, multi-device features like integrated e-mail marketing and document sharing, making it a good choice.’s Sales Cloud

Salesforce CRM, the most popular web-based on-demand application, is easy to use and offers the highest number of features as compared to others. The program connects nicely and automatically to Outlook, MS Office, two of the most popular business communication platforms. The Sales Opportunity Management console is complete with marketing, quotes, email, campaigns, web integrated search/share components, territory management and case management. Importantly, Salesforce offers a clean user interface, with full personalization and customization. Salesforce provides customizable solutions which are easy to deploy and use. includes a sales and marketing automation tool which integrates sales and marketing functions to achieve better customer service. has a powerful help and support backbone which is available to all users.

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Bottomline: If you’re looking for a comprehensive on-demand CRM tool that can streamline your sales and support processes, is an excellent choice.

Zoho CRM

Cloud Based CRM-Features Comparison




SalesForce Sales Cloud

Sales Force Automation

Lead mgmt, opportunity mgmt, account and contact mgmt, sales pipeline mgmt, sales forcasting, sales analytics, etc Opportunity mgmt, contact mgmt, account mgmt, forecasting, quotas and contracts, dashboards Lead mgmt, opportunity mgmt, contact mgmt, account mgmt, sales forecasting, CRM Analytics Lead Mgmt, opportunity mgmt, accounts & contacts mgmt, analytics and forecasting
Marketing Campaign mgmt, e-mail marketing, online lead forms, product mgmt, calendaring, contact mgmt, file attachments, etc. Multi-channel campaigns, campaign wizard, email marketing, web-to-lead forms, lead mgmt, marketing analytics Campaign, Email marketing, Lead generation, contact manager, marketing analytics, Web forms Multi-channel campaigns including email campaigns, Google adwords, landing pages, lead capture, lead scoring, and lead routing and assignment
Customer Service Ticket mgmt, knowledge mgmt, customer self-service portal, reports, support statistics, customer support related modules for managing products, activity mgmt, calendar, contact mgmt, etc. Case mgmt, inbound email, knowledgebase, bug tracking, self-service portal
Case mgmt (trouble tickets), Solutions mgmt (Knowledgebase) Share documents with team; content library with full-text search; subscribe to topics/documents of interest; rate and comment on published content; create new presentations through existing ones; send online content and track views
Inventory Manage inventory for products, price books, vendors, sales quotas, purchase orders, sales orders, and invoices, NA Products and price books, sales quotes, sales and purchase orders, invoice management, inventory reports Real-time quotes tracking, product tracking, sales processes, competitor tracking
Other Activity Mgmt calendar, e-mail integration, security mgmt Project Mgmt capabilities like build and manage projects across teams, create projects from pre-defined templates, Gantt charts, manage upcoming tasks, open items, percentage completion, open cases, etc; SugarCRM for LotusLive Contact mgmt that includes web to contact forms, marketing campaigns, email marketing, auto-responders, reports and dashboards, sales opportunities, email integration, Google apps integration, MS Outlook synchronization, mail merge documents with MS Office Automate any sales process; streamline approval process; dynamically create and assign tasks; define territories for optimal coverage
Mobile Access Browser based access from any mobile device; apps for iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and Android Apps available for iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, and Android based mobiles and tablets; Browser based access for all smartphones App for iPhone; Web browser based access from BlackBerry and Android based phones iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry; Offline info access; access dashboards; Chatter for real-time collaboration
Social CRM NA Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, WebEx, Citrix GoToMeeting, Google Apps, LotusLive Engage, Sales Intelligence, NA Chatter for real-time collaboration; Create social communities; Access public social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc; Integrated web-chat
Reporting Sales analytics Dashboards, marketing analytics, sales trends, case reports, customer profiles Dashboards, sales/marketing/ inventory/support analytics Dashboards, reports, forecasting, data quality
Email Integration/
Plug-ins for MS Outlook and Thunderbird; MS Exchange Connector; Lots of of third-party plug-ins Plug-ins for MS Outlook, IBM Lotus Notes, Gmail, Yahoo! Mail and IMAP; Built-in email client, email marketing Built-in Email; Plug-ins for MS Outlook and MS Office; Google Apps; Zoho Apps; Integration with MailChimp, Contactology, Gmail, QuickBooks, Google Docs, and Zopim MS Outlook, Gmail, MS Word/Excel, Offline access, Email templates; An AppsExchange with hundreds of apps created by partners and Salesforce itself

Prices vary by features, so refer to the price table for details

Zoho CRM is another CRM solution that can be considered by mid-sized enterprises. It manages your sales, marketing, customer support and inventory on a single system. Zoho CRM has offered a user-friendly interface, there are one-click tabs to create new leads, accounts, contacts, forecasts, sales orders, events and much more on the home screen. You can also see the overall records for these features. It allows you to import and export records in different formats as CSV, XLS and PDF. It provides built-in forecasts to create quarterly planning and tracking records. The home screen can be customized to classic view or you can add any component. We found reports and dashboard standards fair enough to view different components’ pipeline structure, something that can also be customized. It allows you to do group chat, supports unlimited users, provides facility to merge with Zoho writer. Zoho CRM lacks in support for inbound e-mail, which means a user has to manually attach records to email them. Also unlike other CRM services, it does not provide sample data or accounts for trial.

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It comes in three editions. The free edition offers hosted CRM for startups who need an immediate solution for tracking their daily sales activities. Professional Edition, priced at Rs 593/user/month offers a complete sales automation solution for small businesses with integrated marketing, support and inventory modules. The Enterprise Edition, priced at Rs 1236/user/month offers an enterprise-grade CRM for managing complex organizational hierarchy with individual user access control. Plus, Zoho CRM is a ‘pay as you go’ service which enables you to upgrade or downgrade the selected editions at any point in time. It also has a mobile edition through which you can create, edit or delete records in offline mode also and log phone calls for just Rs 148/user/month.

Bottomline: Zoho CRM is a good option for cost conscious users which gives them all the necessary features.

Cloud based CRM-Pricing structure




SalesForce Sales Cloud

Option 1

USD $12/user/month: All features, no user limits, 5 GB storage per client ($5/GB for additional storage) USD $360/user/year, Professional Edition: Includes Sugar Mobile, Standard reporting, 15 GB storage, MySQL and MS SQL support, 2 support contacts, email support, support portal access, 8×5, 4 hr response time SLA, unlimited support cases Free Edition: Free for 3 users, includes sales force automation, marketing automation, customer support, common features, web forms, file storage, data administration USD $2/user/month, Contact Manager: Contact Management for up to 5 users
Option 2 Additional Services: USD $150 for an SQL Data of customer’s vTiger CRM instance; Data Migration Fees: $450 for up to 5k records, $750 for 5-50k records, and $900 for 50k-500k records USD $540/user/year, Corporate Edition: All features of option 1 + 30 GB storage, 3 support contacts, 12×5, 2 hr response time USD $12/user/month, Professional Edition: All features of Option 1 + Inventory mgmt, security administration, workflow mgmt, and mail merge with Zoho Writer USD $15/user/month, Group Edition: All features from Option 1+ Basic sales and marketing mgmt for up to 5 users
Option 3 Custom vTiger Instance, USD $24/user/month (requires at least 5 user licenses) USD $720/user/year, Enterprise Edition: All features of options 1 & 2 + enterprise reporting, customer self-service portal, sugar plug-in for Lotus Notes, 60 GB Storage, Oracle Database support, 4 support clients, phone support, health check
USD $25/user/month, Enterprise Edition: All features supported USD $65/user/month, Professional Edition: All features from options 1 & 2 + complete CRM for any size team
Option 4 NA USD $1200/user/year, Ultimate Edition: All features of options 1, 2, 3 + Sugar connector to Lotus Domino Server, 250 GB storage, 5 support contacts, 24×6, 1 hr response time, Go-live and developer support, assigned support representative, extended health check Add-ons @ USD $3/user/month per feature: Mobile edition, mail add-on, Zoho support, MS-Outlook plug-in, MS Office plug-in USD $125/user/month, Enterprise Edition: All features from options 1, 2, & 3 + Customizable CRM as per business needs
Option 5 NA NA Other Add-ons: USD $25/user/month for Zoho CRM for QuickBooks (Prof and Enterprise Editions only); USD $6/user/month for PhoneBridge for call centers USD $250/user/month, Unlimited Edition: Premier support tailors CRM for your business

Plz note that for all cases, there are additional charges for implementation, training, data migration, etc.

vTiger CRM

vtiger CRM is an on-demand CRM solution meant for small and medium businesses. Targeting enterprises, this solution has a rich set of features and functions for them. With its user-friendly interface, the tool helps in enhancing productivity as everything can be done with just a few clicks. Its features include Lead Management, Opportunity Management, Account & Contact Management, and Reports & Dashboards specifically useful for an organization’s sales team. The lead management feature helps in creating and converting leads. vtiger also allows you to capture leads from websites, based on the enterprise requirement customizing online lead forms, lead conversion mapping & more. It has a module-manager, which allows you to enable or disable each module according to your requirement. It allows you to connect your mail server with it and mail directly from the main homepage of vtiger CRM. You can simply edit/modify and do changes in settings just by clicking on tabs. You can also initiate chat simply through the main screen. On your home screen you can see your leads, invoices, activities, sales orders and much more. It has a good GUI reporting tool, which analyzes the data in the database and shows you the projections in graphs. For example, if you want to know account-wise sales, it will show you a bar chart with account-wise sales figures. The focus is not only limited to sales, it includes features such as market automation, analysis and reporting, accounting & more. This Web-based CRM helps enterprises in understanding their customers and internal processes through a proper work flow. The vtiger CRM On Demand enables clients, partners, resellers, and system integrators to change, extend, or customize an individual CRM instance. You can directly send email which is an advanced feature. It allows you to see user login history. However, it lacks import and export of records.

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Bottomline: vtiger is best suited for the cost conscious SMEs with all the necessary features included, except the import and export facility.


If spending money is not a problem then one can select either SugarCRM or Salesforce CRM, since both give feature enriched services for customer relationship management. But if you are looking for a cost saving cloud-based CRM solution then you must go for vtiger CRM which gives a perfect platform to your sales team for managing customer relations. You could even go for the free edition of Zoho CRM, if all you want to do is contact management and are ok with the 5 user limit.

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