Photo Courtesy: InteroAdvisory

By Brian Penny

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) practices are an essential cornerstone of any enterprise, whether corporate or small businesses. GetVoIP recently featured a piece on overlooked customer support tools that got me thinking. While corporate entities often employ cloud CRM services, small to medium businesses (SMB) tend to ignore these vital tools. Here’s a quick breakdown of 3 essential CRM integrations for SMBs to consider:

SalesForceThe leading provider of cloud CRM solutions, has an estimated 2.1 million users. What makes them so popular is the sheer ease of use and personalization options available. Salesforce is such a universally utilized solution that implementing it in your small business will give your employees a vital skill that can be transferred to other positions. Giving your workforce options is an important benefit. By storing your data and databases in the cloud with SalesForce’s services, you’ll save money and become much more efficient. The less time you spend managing your customer, sales, and product databases, the more productive and valuable your company becomes.

Microsoft DynamicsNot to be outdone, Microsoft has its own suite of customer management software to compete with SalesForce. Much like the popular Office suite, MS Dynamics’ key to success is in software integration. Importing from Excel, Access, and Outlook are accomplished with ease. Marketing, customer service, and sales solutions are made easily available. Backed by Microsoft’s own customer support base, Dynamics can integrate Point of Sale devices, computers, and printers to your mainframe. You can control inventory, customer contact info and preferences, and have them called up when necessary to prevent annoying customers with unwanted communications.

SalesLogixSalesLogix is the smaller company of the cloud service providers, but don’t take a lack of size for lack of features. The analytic and reporting functionality in SalesLogix suite of CRM solutions are intuitive and easy to use. Never again will you be surprised by a spike or dip in sales. Inventory issues will become a problem of the past. Mobile compatibility makes this a great solution for businesses with a mobile or offsite sales and marketing force. If your IT department is small (or nonexistent), SalesLogix is easy to troubleshoot. You’ll wonder how you survived without it.

Depending on the structure of your business, there’s a cloud-based CRM solution that is perfect for you. The important part is to get your head and data into the clouds.

Brian Penny is a former business analyst at Bank of America turned whistleblower and freelance writer. He’s a frequent contributor to Mainstreet, Lifehack, The Huffington Post, HardcoreDroid, and an affiliate of Starbucks and Tiger Direct. He documents his experiences working with Anonymous, practicing yoga, and fighting the banks on his blog. Follow him at @Versability.