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The Best CRM for Midsize Companies: The 2019 CRM Market Leader Awards

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THE MARKET

A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers report predicted that in 2019, 48 percent of organizations will grow revenue opportunities and increase profits through artificial intelligence, and for midsize companies looking for a meaningful yet affordable way to put automation to work, CRM could be the answer.

This year, the vendors in this category continue to offer cost-effective solutions that promise to inject a dose of artificial intelligence into their clients’ CRM tools, making their sales, marketing, and customer service efforts more predictive, proactive, and scalable.

THE LEADERS

While bpm’online has been flying under the radar compared to some of the other players in this category, the company has been preparing to make a splash in the market with a platform that can “definitely hold its own in the midmarket space,” says Brent Leary, founder and partner at CRM Essentials. On our leaderboard last year as well, bpm’online continued to impress analysts this year, receiving a 4.5 in customer satisfaction and a 4.2 in depth of functionality. “This vendor consistently receives high marks for usability and for customer-centricity,” says Kate Leggett, a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research.

New to our leaderboard this year, Freshworks is an up-and-coming CRM vendor with consumer-grade experiences, according to Leggett. And Leary says, “After raising $100 million last year, crossing the $100 million annual revenue milestone, and adding FreshSales and FreshMarketer to their portfolio, they are creating a platform that is attracting bigger organizations that reach beyond their traditional SMB base.” The vendor earned a 4.3 in both customer satisfaction and cost. Freshworks also received a 4.2 in company direction, thanks to what Leggett calls an “aggressive road map.”

Microsoft provides “strong CRM capabilities, with high marks from customer references for usability delivered via a robust, scalable, and unified platform,” Leggett says. The product offers very strong reporting and analytics with many prescriptive advice scenarios to optimize sales processes, marketing offers, and customer service agent activities, according to Leggett. The vendor earned scores of 4.1 in depth of functionality and customer satisfaction, but received its highest mark, a 4.2, in cost. “Microsoft’s offering here fits the needs of B2B midmarket customers nicely, and the Power Platform components really empower business users and citizen developers to dig in and leverage data from a variety of Microsoft apps,” says Leary.

Oracle’s CX Cloud Suite earned it a 4.4 in depth of functionality, but that’s not the only praise being heaped on the software giant. CX Cloud “is a good fit for organizations that require the advanced capabilities of individual cloud products,” Leggett says. Though the vendor received a disappointing 3.1 in customer satisfaction last year, it improved its performance in that area this year, earning a 3.8.

THE WINNER

Salesforce.com provides very strong marketing, sales, and customer service capabilities, having recently built its field service capabilities into a viable offering and rounded out its e-commerce pillar by acquiring Demandware and Cloud Craze. Its robust features earned it a 4.6 in depth of functionality, the highest score in the category. Analysts also praise Salesforce for having the “best development partner ecosystem out there,” according to Jim Dickie, cofounder of CSO Insights and independent research fellow at Sales Mastery; the vendor received a 4.3 in company direction and a 4.2 in customer satisfaction. But analysts caution that Salesforce’s recent buying spree could hurt it down the line, and also note that it does a better job in the B2B space than it does in B2C deployments.

ONE TO WATCH

Many still have the perception that Zoho is strictly for small businesses, but the breadth and depth of Zoho’s wide-ranging array of front- and back-office offerings go way beyond the SMB audience they continue to serve. Plus, Zoho’s artificial intelligence layer, Zia, “was one of the first in the industry with a conversational interface, allowing users to ask Zia about CRM topics similar to how you ask Alexa,” Leary says. Zoho also earned a 4.0 in customer satisfaction and a 3.8 in both depth of functionality and company direction.

 

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