Running a small business that functioned more as a virtual company than a local one, early on we had a need for archiving and sharing sales leads and information. But this only spanned 3 people. Solutions were cumbersome and difficult especially in the early 2000s. Solutions are not much better but collaboration and cheap cloud computing means it is easier to jerry-rig a solution usingcomponents like spreadsheets or DBs. It’s still not a perfect world.
Salesforce has always had solutions but they were big, complex and expensive. They still are and they are not made for small business (except for maybe the $1B companies that are still considered small.) At the time it was $75 per seat per month. What we needed was rather simple. We needed:
- A common address book based on a company hierarchy including personal info (family, interests)
- Integration into Outlook and web based email like GMail
- Event tracking by company and person
- Fields like sales potential, stage and probability
- Track a person across companies as they change jobs
For small business $5 per month per seat would be the right price-point and ideally a freemium model would be best or a long trial period. Let’s face it, if users use a sales system for 6 months they are hooked. They don’t want to lose their history and data and will have learned how useful it is in that time frame. A month is not sufficient because small business does not have time to setup and use it that quickly. Some point to Google+ as encroaching on Salesforce’s territory but it is does not hit the important needs yet.
We tried manually setting up SugarCRM and others but even though we are technical I found it time consuming and expensive to setup and maintain. To this day we manually share information with one person being the clearing house. This has some risk because if something happens with that person you have lost some part of your sales data.
Small business does not widely accept the new latest tech. They focus on what they do well and for 99% of small businesses it is not this level of technology. But the day will come when all businesses are primed and ready for it. They use free/cheap web mail, free/cheap websites, low-cost ecommerce. They will soon be ready for a similar sales support offering.