SFA for the Little Guy

Intuit, makers of popular accounting software for small companies, just unveiled a hosted CRM offering, called Sales Manager. Specifically, the service, aimed at sales teams made up of 10 to 100 people, manages sales opportunities, from leads to deals. The kicker? Sales Manager costs as little as $249 per month or roughly $25 per salesperson. "Customers complained that today's CRM is expensive, hard to centralize information, and difficult to customize," says Diane Simmons, QuickBase brand manager. "We offer a more affordable solution." Sales Manager produces charts -- pies, lines and bars -- that give sales managers a snapshot of their company's sales landscape and pipeline. Additionally, Sales Manager is sold as part of QuickBase for Corporate Workgroups, which includes project management tools. Already, Sales Manager has won praise from at least one user. "With QuickBase for Corporate Workgroups, my sales team can make updates anytime, from any location, saving me the trouble of manually entering and consolidating data," said Teresa McGuire, business systems analyst at Fleet Insurance Services, in a statement. "This alone significantly reduces the inaccuracies that resulted from our old systems, where too many hands were entering and adjusting important sales information." Simmons claims Sales Manager reduces the 25-hours-per-week chore of consolidating data to a mere five hours. "Now the sales manager is freed up from the consolidation dance to do better analysis," she says. Affordability, ease-of-use and fast start-up time are all key selling points for Intuit, as well as other hosted service providers. The trade-off, of course, is lack of scalability. Simply put, Intuit's system can't handle millions of customers of a giant corporation, the company admits. Nevertheless, hosted CRM solutions are on the rise. NetLedger, marketer of Oracle Small Business Suite, recently announced a hosted CRM solution called NetCRM, which will be available next month. Others offering similar services include Salesforce.com, Upshot and SalesNet.
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