Evaluating CRM for Enterprise Start-up -- close.io Basecrm Tout Capsule

One of the advantages of starting from ground-zero with an enterprise software start-up is to do a ‘clean-slate’ and attempt to fix all the common problems and headaches one sees in traditional enterprise software companies from mid-sized to the BigCo’s.

One of them has been their CRM system. I started out using Oracle and Siebel and hated both of them. Even while at Oracle, I tracked my real activity using salesforce.com and then put whatever management needed into Oracle’s CRM. In fact, I did the same thing at IBM – it just wasn’t worth using for my day-to-day.

But now—salesforce.com has become the behemoth that’s slow and cumbersome, and so I begin anew with some key functionality.

Unfortunately, this hasn’t been easy to do. My requirements so far:

  • Efficient template/group outbound email prospecting
  • Ability to see full social context for contacts prospecting to
  • Email handling the right way (e.g. no need to do that bcc’ b.s. – just get it from my IMAP AND associate it with the appropriate contact)
  • Clear and flexible reporting
  • Integrations with my tools (if all these can’t be done in a single tool)

I am trying to keep my requirements lean and focused on our primary goals: building repeatable pipeline that, once I’ve figured it out, can be easily scalable by hiring junior reps to repeat the process.

Well, I ended up looking at a number of candidates:

  • Yesware
  • Toutapp
  • Nimble
  • Close.IO
  • BaseCRM
  • CapsuleCRM

And I’m still scanning the horizon for others.

For Email prospecting, the specifics are:

  • Templates
  • Template (metrics) – how well did this template do, how often was it sent, who sent it
  • Templates organized by target slices (I build lots of test segmentations)
  • Integrations (I don’t want to input data twice…EVER!)

The candidates for this were:

  • ToutApp
  • YesWare
  • CloseIO

  • ToutApp had the best metrics and, seemingly, with groups by segments

  • YesWare didn’t have such easily to access metrics or dynamic fields (sort of a given for Templates)
  • CloseIO – I was hopeful because they did have templates, but even with their powerful search, I wasn’t clear if I could get the same metrics (I am still investigating this)

Challenges: getting ToutApp to pull data from my CRM’s OR to input data (either manually or an upload). For example: I had a contact already in ToutApp but needed to add the email address (or change one) – but guess what – I couldn’t find a place to edit the contact with the email address! Grrr….

This is the most important “front-end” of the pipeline so I have been sort of starting there, but I needed to go back and figure out my options for CRM systems. Surprisingly, the Zapier connections don’t solve this problem. In this day and age, I was surprised that I still have to limit which CRM systems I can work with. In Tout’s case, it was Capsule, Highrise, and salesforce.

So, for now, I am ranking ToutApp highest – but since there are dependencies on what are do in terms of very basic deal tracking and contact gathering….things could potentially change. The lack of integration with BaseCRM, for example, notched it down a point and put CapsuleCRM back in the running,

But the evaluation continues….till the next post.