Best Midmarket CRM Software Suite: The 2017 CRM Market Leaders

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CRM software vendors selling to midmarket companies often mold their enterprise solutions to meet the needs of organizations, or divisions of large enterprises, with between 250 and 999 employees, according to “The Forrester Wave: CRM Suites for Midsize Organizations 2016.” The research house noted that, compared to CRM suites designed for the enterprise, these systems often have limited capabilities in certain areas but are often easier for sales, service, and marketing departments to use. But some of the players in this category have enhanced their offerings to have cross-over appeal and are beginning to attract the attention of larger organizations with more than 1,000 employees. 


Bpm’online is moving in a promising direction, posting its highest score in that area (3.8). It “is one of the sleeper solutions that midmarket companies should start paying attention to,” says Brent Leary, cofounder and partner at CRM Essentials. “They have quietly put together a nice offering that should be particularly attractive to process-driven organizations looking to automate across the life cycle.” Kate Leggett, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, commends bpm’online for its sales, marketing, and customer service capabilities and a “very customer-centric” approach. Still, bpm’online continues to struggle with implementation resources, a base of smaller customers, and smaller development partner networks than its competitors. 

Microsoft scored high in direction (4.1), with Leggett saying that it offers a very strong “all-around” product despite a lack of commerce capabilities. And while its solutions lack some of the core capabilities found in other industry solutions, Dynamics CRM users can get many of those capabilities through Microsoft’s extensive integration partnerships with companies like Adobe. Dynamics CRM also benefits from deep integrations with other Microsoft products, like LinkedIn and Office 365. The company struggled this year in customer satisfaction (3.3), however. John Ragsdale, vice president of technology research at the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA), says it offers a highly usable and intuitive user interface, thus making it a “good choice for SMBs with limited IT resources.” 

Oracle earned its highest mark in depth of functionality (3.9) and its lowest in customer satisfaction (3.4). “Though once considered only a ‘big company’ solution, I’m seeing Oracle rise in popularity due to their investments in cloud versions,” Ragsdale asserts. But other analysts note that cost is still a deterrent for midmarket firms. “Oracle is a tough sell for the midmarket because of the implementation expertise involved both to get up and running and make the most of it over time,” says Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of Nucleus Research. Leggett adds that Oracle’s CRM is made up of separate clouds that can be integrated, though “this strategy may be too complex and heavyweight for midmarket companies.”

SugarCRM scored impressively in direction and cost (3.7). Jim Dickie, cofounder and research director at CSO Insights, calls it is a good choice “if you need to do lots of customization to meet sales needs.” “SugarCRM is both very cost-effective to buy and support [for] midmarket companies,” Wettemann adds. “Although it doesn’t have the breadth of capabilities for marketing of some of the competitors, it shines in other areas, including flexibility.” 


Salesforce.com stands out for its direction (4.6), highlighted by a strong vision and strategy, robust systems, integrator and developer networks, and the very broad AppExchange. The additions of Quik and Einstien “have been two solid moves,” Dickie says. Cost is a problem; it posted the lowest score in that area (3.3). It also suffers from a lack of attention to smaller accounts, Leggett contends.


Oracle’s NetSuite is this year’s One to Watch by virtue of a strong functionality score (3.7), but it struggled in customer satisfaction (3.1). It’s a good “starter” system for SMBs and has enough sophistication to help growing companies scale, says Ragsdale. But, then again, “no one buys NetSuite as a stand-alone CRM, so its capabilities and investment in core CRM have been limited,” Wettemann says. 

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