I was recently asked if I had written an article comparing Salesforce to Base CRM. The contractor had also tried Pipeline Deals as a CRM. This got me thinking that I needed to write a blog about the CRMs I personally use the most and the differences between the three. I hope you will find this post helpful if you are in search for a CRM.
Warning: If you are currently using a CRM effectively, do not be quick to jump ship and try another CRM. Before switching, make sure you know the missing link in your customer retention, what it will take to fix it, and if switching CRMs will be the solution. Many times, switching applications just make for more chaos.
In today’s post, I’m not going to tell you which CRM is best for you. They all have their place. I will just share a few highlights and do my best to compare how they are different.
Salesforce has been the leading CRM on the market ever since I can remember. Before Salesforce, ACT! was the premium software used by most small businesses. Salesforce came out of nowhere and produced one of the first and best cloud CRMs. Salesforce grew rapidly in the cloud computing world and companies from small, medium and even some larger enterprises began to switch to Salesforce.
In a nutshell, Salesforce can pretty much do whatever it is you want to do when it comes to lead generation, internal communications, exceptional reporting, sales automation, light project management. What Salesforce cannot do out of the box, one of their many APIs or plugins can typically do the trick. They have allowed for developers to build Apps to work nicely with their product. Yet using more features within Salesforce tends to get a bit expensive. On average, a business would need to spend around $125 a user/per month for the enterprise version. Sometimes you can negotiate this price down a bit with Salesforce. If you want to have a lot of flexibility with your CRM, the Enterprise version is most likely where you will be. As you can see, this can add up and get expensive for the small business contractors with 5+ employees.
The one drawback with Salesforce is that it can be complicated. Most of the clients I know who use Salesforce don’t really utilize the program to its full potential. I had one client fly their operations manager to the Bay Area for a several day course on advanced features within Salesforce. That was a couple of years ago and to this day, they are still having problems with Salesforce. This is not Salesforce’s fault! Will they switch? No! They have too much invested in Salesforce. It works fantastic for their call center and sales team. Yet, it comes with a steep price tag too!
Who Should Be Using Salesforce
If you want the best with all the bells and whistles and customization, Salesforce will do the trick. If you have an inside sales team making cold calls, needing some good sales automation (task, reminders, follow ups, emails) this is a great product. If it’s just you, one other sales guy, and you are very analytical and detail-oriented, you’ll be happy with Salesforce.
Base CRM just moved their offices to the Bay Area from Chicago. One of the reasons they did this was to have even more access to the tech community: designers, programmers, engineers etc. They have produced one of the best scaleable CRMs I’ve seen. What I mean is that a small, one man shop can use BASE CRM and a company of 50+ employees can as well. It is capable of just the “Facts Jack” features up to a number of advanced features such as call recording, sales automation, sales, scripts, geo-map location and more. Although this can change from year to year, Base still has perhaps the slickest and most advanced Mobile CRM on the market. It works incredibly well on the iOS devices and even better on Google’s Android platform. When Apple released iOS 8 this fall, my guess is that Base will run even better!
A couple of drawbacks on Base as of July 2014: Exporting data is a pain in the neck. The only way to do this is to export all your data into CSV files. At that point, you can do what you want with it. I get the reason why Base makes it painful. I think they want you to use their reports and not have to do a lot of your own analyzing and reporting outside of Base. That brings me to the other drawback: their reports are good, not great. For most companies, you’ll probably be quite pleased with the slick, easy to read reports. It shows most of you what you want to know; but if you want to dig real deep into your organization, Base CRM’s reports have room for improvement. They are working on this, and I’m sure in a year or so, I’ll have to update this post.
Base also does not have as many plugins and features like Salesforce. It has some basic ones such as Google, MailChimp, Xero to name a few. Yet it is missing some key plugins to small business tools such as Quickbooks. Finally, it doesn’t do a great job of internal communications like Pipeline and Salesforce. You have to rely more on email to communicate with inside/outside sales teams. It would be nice to be able to leave comments and send notifications to other users within the Base. Base CRM and most CRMs lack the customer follow up process too. Most CRMs deal with the pre and during sales process. Once the sale is complete, there isn’t a great way to manage a project, connect to a good project management software or have a system to stay in touch with a customer. Well, there are ways, but it isn’t easy.
Who Should Be Using Base CRM
Because I love mobile technology so much, I’ve settled on using Base CRM for my company. I love the updates and features Base brings on a regular basis. I like the task and sales automation features too. It works really well with Google Apps, which I use for my email and calendar. I’d say if you really like a slick design, easy to use CRM features, Base CRM is a great CRM. It also has plans to go neck to neck with Salesforce. So I suspect the next 12 months, Base CRM will really make some great updates to their product. Each one I’ve seen the past few years has been fantastic. An inside sales team that wants to make calls from their computer, have sales scripts and call recording will also benefit from Base CRM.
If you are a small service business that will be using Google Apps for your business and want a quality CRM, Base will do the trick. It does not have as many bells and whistles as Salesforce, but it has the potential to do quite a bit out of the box. The cost is a bit more reasonable too. Most small businesses (contractors mainly) can benefits from spending around $45 a month per user. I know a few that do just fine at their starter package too: $15 a month.
I like to call Pipeline Deals “Old Faithful.” This does not mean that Pipeline Deals is old and out of date. Not at all. Pipeline Deals has quality apps for the Android and iPhone and has some of the best reporting features for a simple CRM. It also has great internal communication features. So if I get a call from a client, I can type in a note about the call and tap a button to notify someone in the company about the call I had with that particular client. Pipeline is just a rock solid CRM. They have perhaps the best customer support/service I’ve ever experienced too. You can call, chat, or email them just about anytime and get a live person in seconds! They are more than willing to help small to medium size businesses setup their CRM as well.
Pipeline basically is a simple CRM for those who just want the basics: enter and keep track of customers and sales. The company does make updates to their product a few times a year, and the updates are very well thought out and bug free.
A few drawbacks to Pipeline Deals would be the fact that it really is a simple CRM. It does not come close to what Salesforce can do, and I don’t think Pipeline Deals thinks of Salesforce as a competitor. Although Pipeline works with Google Apps, it is not without a few issues. I think it is a bit clunky and don’t bother with the integration. Their sales automation is also a bit dated and not as automated and worry-free as Salesforce or Base. For example, setting up follow up task in Pipeline can be done, but getting reminded about them is a bit of a chore. Finally their mobile apps are pretty basic. If you want a robust mobile solution, Pipeline has a bit more work to do here.
Who Should Use Pipeline Deals
I have an account with Pipeline Deals and do keep up on all their updates. I also know that many of my painting clients use and like Pipeline Deals. These guys don’t need a complicated CRM. It’s very easy to learn how to use Pipeline Deals and the cost is reasonable at $24 per user/month. For that rate, it’s easy to have a large staff use the basic or advanced features of this CRM.
I trust you have found this post helpful. If I did not address your questions, comment below or send me an message.