CRM for One: Catch 'Em While They're Young

Though they're lumped together under the acronym "SMB," most of the small businesses in that category have their sights set on becoming part of the midmarket. In a bid to grow with their SMB customers, Maximizer Software yesterday introduced an Entrepreneur edition to its suite of four Maximizer CRM 10 applications. With the release, the vendor has repositioned its Maximizer Contact Manager to become part of its CRM 10 product line. The move is an effort to give entrepreneurs looking to get their feet wet with CRM a useful contact management solution that isn't laden with unneeded bells and whistles, says Angie Hirata, Maximizer's worldwide director of marketing and business development. As the same entrepreneurs move from being a sole proprietor to being president of a team, Maximizer hopes they'll scale their CRM solution by upgrading to the vendor's editions that offer enhanced features. Laurie McCabe, vice president for SMB insights and business solutions at Access Markets International (AMI) Partners, agrees that the Maximizer product line allows companies to start with a contact management solution and transition to full-featured CRM as their business matures. For these small businesses, upgrading to another application within the same suite at a later time will be fairly painless, Hirata says. "Small businesses don't have tons of IT resources, so the easier you can make an upgrade to gain more functionality as your business grows, the better," she says. "If your 10 people are managing contacts in a little group and you want to add customer service, case management, and then marketing, you can grow up very seamlessly." One key to the vendor's catch-them-as-a-start-up strategy is price -- and the product is priced right for the small-business owner, says Barton Goldenberg, president of ISM Inc., a CRM consultancy. In fact, he says, the application offers the entrepreneur a solid CRM system, thanks to the vendor's business background. "They've been around a long time and they've had a long learning curve in terms of how to produce valuable software at lower costs -- and they pass that on to customers," Goldenberg says. "Maximizer offers a pretty feature-rich functionality for software of that cost and capability. The stuff around analytics and mobility is way beyond what you typically expect from a software company that size." The Entrepreneur edition offers contact management capabilities as well as mobile access to BlackBerry devices and others running the Windows Mobile operating system. In addition, the product provides reporting and time-management capabilities with Outlook integration. Each subsequent application within the suite -- Maximizer Group, Professional, and Enterprise -- builds on those features to include such capabilities as customer and marketing management, Hirata says.

Related articles: Feature: The 2007 Market Awards: Small Business Suite CRM The small-business themes of this past year have been partnership and verticality; Maximizer Software, last year's category winner, is named a Leader. Feature: The 2006 Market Leaders, Part 1 Maximizer led the pack both in customer satisfaction and depth of functionality. Real ROI: RDS Delivery Delivers on Service Maximizer Enterprise helps optimize shipments and company trust. Real ROI: Test-Tube Implementation StemCell upgraded to Maximizer Enterprise 7, taking advantage of that version's more extensive capabilities to set up global marketing campaigns and track responses. Maximizer Consulting Goes a la Carte The quiet software firm expands its professional services aimed at SMBs. Maximizer Tries to Score a Perfect 10 with SMBs With Maximizer CRM 10, the vendor hopes to provide SMBs with the tools to compete. Maximizer and CanDoGo Can Do Mentoring The CRM vendor teams with the business coach to deliver Web-based professional advice through the CRM interface. Are CRM Systems Too Complex for the SMB? "Getting staff to use the software" remains the biggest challenge for the small and midsize CRM user. Maximum Sales Research Maximizer Software inks a deal with sales-effectiveness analyst group ES Research to share information on best practices and link their customer bases. Playground Gets Maximized Ease of use allows sales teams to focus on customers and build relationships. Maximize Sales Effectiveness Through Communication A new TAS Group study finds the disconnect between management and reps can erode a sales force's ability to close deals and hit quotas. Maximizer Says, ''Leave Your Laptop at Home'' The company hopes the release of Maximizer Enterprise 9.5 will ease the SMB sales force's woes. Maximizer Minimizes Its Pricing Structure The quiet on-premise vendor fires a surprise salvo; functionality is another key to value. Viewpoint: Selling Smart to Reach Your Goals Focus on fundamentals when facing shortfalls.
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