Taking Customer Relationship Management to the Max

Managing your time and taking proper care of your customers – these two must-do tasks form the core of any size business. Customer relationship management (CRM) software can help even the smallest business establish a best-practices foundation on which to build a successful endeavor.

One of the latest CRM applications available for SMBs comes from Maximizer Software, a player in that market since 1987 and a competitor of ACT software, another popular small business CRM product. The company recently released Maximizer CRM 10 Entrepreneur Edition, a program aimed at start-ups and individual professionals, is designed specifically for companies with one to 10 people.

The Entrepreneur edition completes the company’s full line of CRM products, ranging from contact management to full-blown CRM. In addition to Entrepreneur, the Maximizer CRM 10 family consists of Group (up to 15), Professional and Enterprise editions.

The software, which sells for $229, incorporates account and contact management with sales-opportunity, order, time and task management, Outlook integration, scheduling, reporting, sales coaching and document management capabilities.

Laurie McCabe, vice president of small business insights and solutions at AMI-Partners, said, “CRM is just as vital to small companies as larger ones. It’s very hard to delight customers and prospects without a way to automate functions such as marketing, contact management, pipeline management and customer service.

Maximizer CRM 10 clearly establishes the company’s commitment to empowering SMBs with a product line that lets them start with a contact management solution and transition to full-featured CRM as their business matures,” McCabe said.

Entrepreneur, and the rest of the Maximizer CRM 10 line, is what’s known as on-premises software, meaning that the software – and your company data) resides on your PCs and/or servers (unlike SaaS products like Salesforce.com that hosts the software program and stores your CRM data on its servers, which you then access over the Internet).

Angie Hirata, Maximizer’s director of worldwide marketing and business development, noted that many industries want an on-premises model. “In particular, financial services and manufacturing companies, where integration is important, prefer running the software themselves. You can still access the application through a Web-based browser, it’s just accessing the data on your company’s server,” she said.

Not all CRM applications are created equal, and Hirata said that three main areas differentiate Entrepreneur from its competition. First, “the software is simple and quick, both from a business and an IT perspective. That means you can quickly configure, deploy and customize the application,” she said.

Second, you can access the software in three ways: through Windows, a Web interface or a mobile device. “We support Blackberry, Palm and Windows mobile devices,” said Hirata. “You get real-time syncing with files and teams and no more updating by hand. Your employees can be on the Web, use mobile devices work from their desktops, or use all three.”

Finally, Hirata said Maximizer CRM 10 Entrepreneur offers value on a small budget. “It’s the best value in its class for full CRM. You can be up and running with basic CRM as you go. We offer Express Services packages such as training and pre-installation consultation with predictable billing costs. You won’t end up with an expensive three-month consultation bill,” she said.

Version 10 offers new features, including, Hirata said, the added Blackberry support. In addition, the company added access to sales coaching through a partnership with CanDoGo. “From within the Entrepreneur interface, you’ll find tips on selling, closing deals, negotiations and cold calling,” said Hirata.

Other changes include improvements to Outlook integration, on-the-fly reporting (query the data base and print out Crystal reports on your own, no IT help required) and security (allow or restrict individual/group access).

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com

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