While the partnership between Microsoft and Salesforce provides options for marketers, there are other offerings available that may be better suited for small-business marketers.
Two months ago, Microsoft chief executive (CEO) Satya Nadella and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff announced a strategic partnership between their two companies.
The partnership showcases the new attitude Nadella is bringing to Microsoft.
This attitude is one of inclusion and ensuring Microsoft Office and Server continue to be the fabric and ecosystem of choice for businesses. How do dominant players, in related and even competitive industries, ensure they stay relevant and powerful? By working together.
With this agreement, Salesforce and Microsoft will work together to ensure that their products work more closely with each other. Does this leave other CRM vendors in the cold or foster more awareness of the importance of CRM?
As we discussed on the 3TechGuys Show, small business owners who are closely tied to Microsoft products now have two "Microsoft-approved" choices for their CRM - Microsoft Dynamics CRM offerings or Salesforce.
For medium-sized businesses, Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics are serious contenders. However, for very small businesses (from one to 25-50 employees), there are other solutions that are low-cost and easily implemented that can help as well.
These small-business CRM solutions include Infusionsoft, BatchBook, Zoho, Insight.ly, and many others.
For small businesses that have built their processes on Microsoft Office, your local technology partner can assist you with integrating these solutions into Microsoft Office.
For small businesses that are using Google Docs or other platforms, these small-business-focused CRM services will already integrate quite nicely. Many of them have apps and/or other hooks into Outlook, Google, and other leading productivity tools and services.
Remember, an effectively implemented CRM strategy is not just about the CRM technology you purchase - it's also about the systems and processes your company has for marketing campaigns, customer service, referrals, customer retention, and new customer marketing.
In fact, mapping out your process first is MORE important than choosing the CRM service.
Microsoft and Salesforce might make it tougher for smaller CRM players, but they are actually going to HELP the overall small business CRM industry.
These two giants showcase that CRM is important and that through CRM, small businesses can leverage the power of CRM to better serve customers and overall grow.
I highly encourage small businesses to make an investment in hiring an experienced marketing consultant who can help you develop marketing campaigns, implement technology, and overall guide you and your business.
Using CRM can be done on your own, but having an expert assist is always best.
Image via Shutterstock.
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Ramon Ray is Marketing and Technology Evangelist at Infusionsoft and Smallbiztechnology.com. He's a speaker, media pundit, journalist and author. His latest best seller is "The Facebook Guide to Small Business Marketing".
Some of the events Ramon has produced include the Small Business Summit, Small Biz Big Things with Seth Godin and the Small Business Technology Tour. As a speaker, Ramon has presented at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas with Guy Kawasaki, SXSW, Inc 500 and more.
As a journalist and freelance writer, Ramon has written for Inc Magazine, OPEN Forum, Entrepreneur.com and Clikz.com. Although Ramon is not a comedian, his audiences find him humorous. Despite no law enforcement experience, he is a graduate of the FBI Citizens Academy. Although Ramon does not know Jim Henson, he loves to do puppet shows in developing countries. See Ramon's full bio on his website.
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Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce
This Magic Quadrant examines leading digital commerce platforms that enable organizations to build digital commerce sites. These commerce platforms facilitate purchasing transactions over the Web, and support the creation and continuing development of an online relationship with a consumer.
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12:00pm ET/9:00am PT