Can a company be viable without an automated CRM solution? The answer is yes they can — it has been done for years and many companies continue to operate that way. However, can a company be highly competitive while at the same time increase market share by retaining and attracting new customers effectively and efficiently? Probably not. In certain industries (e.g. non-profit and financial) they most certainly need an automated CRM. There is no way around that.
My top three criteria for selecting a CRM would have to be flexibility/expandability, application support, and of course cost. For my own business I use a CRM for simple tasks. It is cheap, very flexible, and gets the job done. But, I would never suggest this for the larger corporations and non-profits that I service because it simply lacks the necessary tools to support those types of businesses. At my current employer (which is a large non-profit), we use a robust CRM which I use to develop applications that integrate into our many touchpoints (e.g. web, iOS, etc.). This particular CRM is super flexible, mobile ready (which is very important), very expandable to assist all the various departments that we currently have and are thinking of creating, and is as expensive as we want (meaning, it is priced to the fact that we are pushing the system to its max and it is helping us grow exponentially which is priceless in my opinion).
Would I choose RedTail? Maybe. But, after being to Dreamforce (the Salesforce.com annual conference bash) and using the Salesforce.com platform for many different implementations, both small and large, I simply see no other CRM. So, someone would have to make a convincing case for me to consider RedTail. But, maybe that is my lack of experience in certain industries which may be the case. To me Salesforce is just the obvious choice for all types and sizes of business.
The one problem I have with most CRM systems is the UX and UI … they are simply not good. While the software may be loaded with necessary features, the interfaces always look like they were designed by engineers without the human aspect that a great designer might implement. The lack of “intuitive” interfaces naturally causes frustration. Salesforce, for example, isn’t hard for me or our administrators to use because we are naturally able to navigate technical systems regularly. But, there are those that find even the idea of “copy and pasting” using keyboard shortcuts to be difficult, so using Salesforce is a daunting task. Yet, their job requires them to.
Redtail is no different. Recently, Salesforce and Redtail have made advancements with regard to interface design (even since the publication of the videos we had to watch), but still lack an intuitive experience. BaseCRM, on the other hand, has an amazing UI but lacks some of the sophisticated features such as 3rd party integrations and customer build outs. My hope is that one day a product is designed as beautifully as and matches the rich features that the software offers.