Having worked at several enterprise companies and a 60 person start-up I’ve had plenty of experience with CRM systems. I wouldn’t say any of them have been particularly bad experiences but none have been off the charts fantastic either.  It’s become a necessary evil that if we want to track not just our customers and prospects but activities of those who are not yet in our funnel we need some sort of CRM system.

By “we” I always meant companies with 50+ employees. In talking to a few solution providers who, like me, have fewer than 10 to 20 employees we struggle to find a solution that is within our budget and doesn’t take an enterprise class IT team to implement it.  Enter Sugar CRM.

Sugar offers an enterprise class version for $600/user/year, a Professional version for $360/user/year and my personal favorite Sugar’s Community version which is FREE, you heard me people, FREE!  See the different editions compared. Now with the free version there is some development work to be done, which for me means buying my IT friend a case of beer but for most solution providers is a no-brainer.

So why should you care? Looking at this from a solution provider’s or any small business perspective I was really impressed with the ability to add multiple products, switch around your interface on the fly with a drag and drop, and to send out marketing campaigns.  There are different tabs for Sales, Marketing, Support, Reporting and Administration so while you may only have 5 people working out of their home offices (or a garage) you can operate like a national business. I’m also really excited about Sugar’s take on SocialCRM and think they are on to something.

What other cool SMB tools are folks using?  Have you tried Sugar? I'd  love to hear your thoughts.

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