The Best CRM for Midsize Companies: The CRM Market Leader Awards 2018
Though they might be midsize, client companies in this category expect powerful, scalable solutions that can grow with their businesses and deliver meaningful ROI. It’s not entirely surprising, then, that most of the vendors that excelled in this category cater not only to midsize businesses but also to massive corporations.
As in the enterprise space, artificial intelligence is the name of the game when it comes to CRM solutions for midsize companies, but with tighter purse strings than their enterprise counterparts, they are more selective about their spending and less eager to invest in shiny new technology. To win over midsize business, vendors have to prove their worth.
One of the smaller players on our leaderboard, bpm’online is the fastest-growing company in the midmarket space, according to Paul Greenberg, managing principal at the 56 Group. The vendor earned impressive scores in customer satisfaction and cost (4.2) and in depth of functionality and company direction (4.1). Bpm’online’s “powerful BPM tools and ease of configuration make [it] attractive for midmarket customers with limited IT resources,” says Rebecca Wettemann, vice president at Nucleus Research.
Though the midsize market is not necessarily Microsoft’s sweet spot, the vendor typically performs well among midsize clients, Greenberg says. It secured a solid 4.1 in depth of functionality, though its cost score was a bit less impressive (3.6). “Pricing seems to be going up,” says Laurie McCabe, cofounder and partner at SMB Group. Another area that could use improvement is integration. “Microsoft Office, analytics, and ERP integration provide a one-stop shop for Microsoft customers,” Wettemann says, yet analysts “keep expecting to see more ‘wow’ factor in the Dynamics 365 and LinkedIn integration,” says Jim Dickie, cofounder and research director at CSO Insights.
Oracle struggled with customer satisfaction this year, earning only a 3.1 from analysts. Its tough implementation process and high cost might be to blame, analysts agree. Though its CRM solution is “comprehensive, people are critical of the user interface and learning curve [associated with using it],” McCabe points out. “While Oracle’s cloud business continues to grow, making them more attractive to the midmarket, the competition is easier to implement and manage over time,” Dickie says. “Managing the Oracle relationship and the higher cost to deploy keeps Oracle out of the perceived reach of many midmarket customers,” Wettemann agrees.
Analysts praised SugarCRM for its flexibility, but some also pointed out that flexibility can be a catch-22. “The vendor provides flexibility to customize solutions, but this can also make it overly complicated,” McCabe cautions. “The need for dedicated IT support can keep some smaller firms from wanting to invest in SugarCRM,” Dickie agrees. Still, its “low initial and ongoing cost and usability make Sugar attractive to midmarket customers,” Wettemman says. The vendor earned its highest score (4.0) in customer satisfaction.
Our winner for the second year in a row, Salesforce.com continues to impress analysts with its depth of functionality. Though the company focuses on enterprise clients, it serves midmarket clients effectively as well, which is likely why it received a 4.3 for customer satisfaction. Plus, the introduction of Salesforce Essentials, a platform of apps for sales and service designed for small and midsize companies, makes the vendor “much more accessible to the midsize market,” Wettemann says. And, when it comes to Salesforce tools, the cost is often justifiable. “While Salesforce licenses can appear high, small and midsize companies should put a value on the support for success that they’ll receive from all the free resources available via Trailhead, [Salesforce’s learning resource platform],” Dickie says. —Maria Minsker
One to Watch
Best suited for businesses on the smaller end of the midsize market, Vtiger is a solid “starter CRM solution,” according to Dickie. The company earned a 3.8 in customer satisfaction, and its affordability secured it a 4.2 in cost.