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With literary hundreds of CRM options out there it can be difficult to distinguish the wheat from the chaff, especially if you are telemarketing and prospecting focused. Five major players Microsoft Dynamics, Zoho, Salesforce, Sage and Sugar are a good place to start. All offer robust and strong offerings with good functionality and all have their own challenges.  In 2013 the CRM market was worth over 20 billion and is continuing to grow (Gartner). With the onset of cloud base CRM systems the market has exploded.

Cloud or On Premise

When it comes to choosing a CRM vendor you first have to choose weather you want it on premise or in the cloud. Companies such a Salesforce offer no option for on premise which some see as a bit limited. Others like Microsoft Dynamics CRM offer more flexible cloud or on premise option as well as a hybrid of both. When it comes to what to choose all have plus points and all have disadvantages.


Cloud software as a service (saas) is becoming more popular as the benefits to some outweigh the negatives. Let’s look at some the pros and cons.

The Pros

  • Removes the need for a dedicated CRM server.
  • The systems can be accessed almost anywhere with an Internet connection.
  • Future proofs the program, as upgrades are included.
  • The cost is spread.
  • No depreciation as you are paying a subscription.
  • Pay-as-you-go, you only pay for what you use.
  • Faster implementation.
  • Easier Scalability.
  • Work anywhere with an Internet connection.
  • Easier backup and recovery of data.

The Cons

  • The providers controls the security.
  • Vendor lock-in.
  • Limited control.
  • Advisable to work with a partner for upgrades.

On Premise

On premise is still the preferred choice by some organisations who like the control it can give.


  • Security is controlled by you.
  • Control of the system.
  • More control over your database.
  • Customisation is easier.
  • Not as affected by outside issues.


  • Not future proof
  • It is a depreciating asset.
  • Slower Return on investment.
  • Larger up-front cost.
  • Increased maintenance.
  • Harder to Scale up.
  • Storage limits and server space.

Both Cloud (saas) and on premise have the pros and cons. taking the time to look at both when deciding on what your organisation needs could be well worth wile.

Some CRM Vendors



Salesforce is the leader at the moment holding most of the market share. The vendor has been around for 15years and has had an average of 3 realises a year.


  • Friendly interface.
  • Easy to customize.
  • Data is accessible on mobile devices.
  • Social CRM functionality.
  • (Chatter) an in company social networking tool.
  • Analytical dashboards.
  • Email marketing


    • Expensive, £2040 per user, per year for Enterprise features.


  • SLA’s not provided as standard.


  • No on premise option.
  • Lower-cost packages lack basic functions that other CRM services throw in for free.
  • Lack of European datacentres (only one as of 2014)

Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Microsoft Dynamics has come a long way in a short time. With over 4million users it continues to grow at a steady rate.


  • Easy to use slick designed user interface.
  • Powerful reporting capabilities right out the box.
  • Dashboards right out the box.
  • Personal and team Goals tracker.
  • Cost Effective feature packed CRM.
  • Great online support.
  • Integrates with various Microsoft Azure services.
  • Simple data tracking and management.
  • Seamless integration with Microsoft Outlook.
  • Integration with Microsoft SharePoint and SQL Server.
  • Microsoft Yammer in company social networking tool.
  • 99.9% financially backed service level agreement for the Cloud online CRM solution
  • Microsoft Visual Studio can be used for Customisations.
  • Flexible Cloud, on-premise or hybrid of both offering.
  • Broad partner delivery network.
  • Access through mobile devices.
  • Social Media CRM functionality.


  • Not many third-party add-ons.

Sugar CRM

Sugar has made headway in the SME market over the past few years. The company is ten years old as of 2014 and


  • Open-Source Technology Base, PHP is at its core.
  • Simple user interface.
  • Access from mobile devices.
  • Social Media CRM functionality.
  • Integration with Google Docs and Microsoft Office.
  • Sales Analytics and reporting.
  • Extremely customizable.
  • Cloud or on premise.


  • Yearly subscription rather than monthly.
  • Fewer features than some of its rivals.
  • Does not have a Dialler.
  • Steep Learning curve.


Zoho is primarily targeted at the SME market and have around 10 million users but not all for CRM and not all for paid services.


  • Simple interface with good features.
  • Cheaper than some alternatives.
  • Standard reports – out-of-the-box.
  • Dashboards are available out-of-the-box.
  • Access through mobile devices.
  • Social Media CRM functionality.
  • Cloud or on premise.



  • Microsoft Outlook integration costs extra.
  • Limited 2,000 records per report.
  • Lack of independent software vendors.
  • Does not offer professional services for implementation.
  • Only 10 currencies can be active in the CRM.

Sage CRM

Probably better known for accounting packages Sage CRM is used by 15000 business in the SME market.


  • Intuitive user interface.
  • Leverage of Visual Studio and C# to make use of Microsoft developers.
  • Good Customer Service.
  • Interactive dashboard.
  • Cheap full-featured CRM.


  • SQL knowledge required for custom reports of moderate complexity.
  • Unable to delete mass data, so no room for import mistakes.
  • Reports are only exportable in CSV.

The CRM market place is huge, with research showing that a good CRM can give up to a 500% ROI the market is set to continue to grow. (Trackvia)