2016 RANKINGS & CLIENT MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE REVIEWS
Why Bother Using Client Management Software?
One of the most important aspects of any business is the management of customer relations. No matter how big or how small you are, customer contact management is essential for keeping ahead of your competition.
The only problem comes when you have numerous clients that each have their own set of information attached to them. What do you do?
The answer to this question is a reliable contact management system. Using client management software, you can keep track of all of your clients and their information. This is crucial for when you want to analyze your target demographic and see which group of people are doing the most business with you. Would you really want to use a clunky spreadsheet rather than the best contact management app in the world to do all of this?
Whether you are using free contact management software or a paid product, it is important to ensure that all of your clients’ information is being stored in one reliable place that everyone in the company has access to. The reason? Consistency—you would rather go to a single piece of contact management software than have to waste time aggregating client data from numerous sources.
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In this article, we will conduct extensive contact management software reviews of some of the best platforms out there. We won’t be able to tell you which one is the best contact management app, as that decision is ultimately up to you. What we can do is show you the contact management software, free or not, that meets our high standards and receives praise from businesses worldwide.
List of the Top 5 Best Contact Management Software
List is sorted alphabetically (click any of the names below to go directly to the detailed review section for that firm/product):
Do I Have to Be in Sales to Use a Contact Management System?
When you go to the home page of any contact management software, you usually see the features touted to the reader from a sales perspective. Although it is true that these online contact management tools are used primarily by sales teams, every department in a business benefits greatly from having a contact management system in place.
A good example of this would be customer support. Having a system for customer contact management in place allows a representative to quickly pull up a customer’s data and their activity. Rather than have to put the client on hold for any number of minutes, you will spend about two seconds getting their information in order to familiarize yourself with their situation. The client leaves the conversation happy, feeling that they got the best customer service possible. This is the power of using client management software!
Another example would be anyone in the business responsible for market analysis and/or strategic growth. Many contact management software platforms provide the unique feature of organizing customers by certain variables.
You can find out information about the demographic that is responsible for most of your sales, identify common pain points amongst customers, and more. Now, imagine trying to do this with an ordinary spreadsheet; trust us when we tell you that it is a lot harder than it looks.
Best Practices for Using Contact Management Software
Even though there is significant benefit to using online contact management tools, the best contact management software in the world is useless if it is not utilized properly. The entire point of using any contact management app is to make the workflow of customer management simpler by saving time and making the entire process easier. With that in mind, here are some tips you can use to make the most of any client management software tool:
- Use it for customer management ONLY. Too many novices make the mistake of using web-based contact management software as a to-do list, email inbox, note-taker, and so on—this is in addition to the tools that are already designed for those sole purposes. Unfortunately, this is the first step to making any client management software harder to use. Even if a particular system offers these features, ignore them, and use the application solely for managing clients and customers.
- Perform regular database maintenance via regular backups. Even the best contact management software in the world is prone to crashing, losing information, or an accidental error. In the event that happens, you will want to have all customer data backed up in a secure location. This sounds like basic Customer Contact Management 101, but you would be surprised how often people forget to do this elementary step.
Ensure the contact management app in question has multi-platform availability. What do we mean by this? This year, businesses want software that can be used across laptops, tablets, smartphones, and other electronic devices. This results in increased productivity across all team members due to the contact management system’s availability to everyone, no matter what device they’re using.
What methodology does AdvisoryHQ use in selecting and finalizing the firms, services, and products that are ranked on its various top rated lists?
Please see “AdvisoryHQ’s Ranking Methodologies” for a detailed review of AdvisoryHQ’s selection methodologies for ranking top-rated firms, products, and services.
Best Client Management Software Tools
(List is sorted alphabetically)
Detailed Review: Top Ranking Best Client Management Software
Below, please find the detailed review of each software application on our list of top contact management software. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these online contact management tools to score so high in our selection ranking.
Infusionsoft was founded in 2011 and is currently is one of the most popular contact management software tools in existence. Every leader and board member in this company comes with decades of extensive sales and software experience, resulting in a “dream team” running the operations of this platform.
One of the interesting aspects of Infusionsoft is their strong vision for accelerating the growth of small businesses across North America. With more than half of their employees having direct work experience in small businesses, customers can trust that Infusionsoft has their best interests in mind.
Key Factors that Enabled This Software to Rank as a Top Contact Management App
Below are primary reasons we selected Infusionsoft to be rated as one of this year’s top online contact management tools.
Extensive Customer Case Studies
One of the major barriers in buying any contact management app for use is the certainty of knowing that it will be relevant for your business needs. Even if you are using free contact management software, it is a heavy investment for any company to put their current process for contact management into a single application. This is where Infusionsoft separates itself from the rest of its competition.
As you can see in the image above, Infusionsoft lists the numerous reasons why you should purchase their software while providing in-depth client testimonials. Each case study includes the nature of the business (size, industry, etc.), their struggles with client management, and exactly how Infusionsoft managed to solve that problem. With several testimonials included to complement each and every feature of the Infusionsoft platform, you know exactly what you are getting into from the get go from this contact management software.
Numerous Subscription Models
Client management software companies like Infusionsoft are beginning to recognize that businesses have different needs, thus requiring different solutions. A full-scale platform may not be necessary for a smaller business, and likewise, a minimalist platform will do little for a business that is expanding rapidly in size and scope.
Act! comes with four separate platforms: Essentials, Deluxe, Complete, and Team. Essentials ($199/month) comes with basic customer management features marketing automation. Deluxe ($299/month) is a more robust option that includes additional sales automation or e-commerce availability. Complete ($379/month) contains customer management, marketing automation, sales automation, and e-commerce functionality. Last but not least, Team ($599/month) offers everything in Complete with the inclusion of additional contacts, a greater number of users and a higher volume of emails that can be handled.
Unlike a contact management system that leaves you with the platform and nothing more, Infusionsoft goes a step further and provides educational materials for its customers that teaches them how to use the software at every step of the way. There are additional training materials made available to users, along with an online community that allows people to ask questions that will be answered by Infusionsoft staff and other paying customers.
Although the client management software was not their first product, NetSuite was founded as a company in 1998. Within the period of about two decades, they have managed to gain a notorious underground following for their products and their extensive knowledges of sales and marketing. More than 80 industry awards would agree with this statement!
Hubspot is famously known for being a credible industry thought leader in cloud computing, which has taken the technology industry by storm in the past decade. This authority is demonstrated by their blog posts, white papers, social media outreaching, seminars, and far more. Their own success with pushing the power and simplicity of cloud-based software—and the real-time metrics to provide it—is what has attracted so many to take their advice seriously.
Key Factors that Enabled This App to Rank as a Top Contact Management System
Below are some key features we used to rate NetSuite as one of this year’s top contact management software.
An Entire Suite Of Applications
If you are looking for one of the best contact management software tools in the market in combination with other tools that will accelerate the growth of your small business, look no further than Netsuite’s client management software. You also receive their financial processing, e-commerce management, and project management tools as an entire suite.
One of the best aspects of Netsuite is that they provide multiple demo videos on their website that allow clients to get first-hand experience with using all of their tools. You will be able to see exactly how Netsuite can be a valuable addition to your daily business operations.
First-Hand Experience with Cloud-Based Client Management and Computing
Even if you are not a user of Netsuite’s online contact management tools, you still have access to a high-end technology blog that is loaded with years of content. Combine their extensive knowledge with their killer platform, and you have a combination that will skyrocket your sales!
The image above is a sample of a blog post that discusses the implications of international expansion for service organizations. This is just a small sample, as they have several posts detailing the future of cloud computing and the latest developments within NetSuite’s software and the technology industry as a whole.
Detailed Insights On Behavior Patterns of Customers
Although it is convenient to have all of your customers in one place, a client management software tool that provides useful analytics on your customer base is even better. Rather than provide useless trends, Netsuite will provide insights that are actionable and relevant to the growth of your company. Whether you are looking for the demographic that generates the most revenue for your company, or times of the year where your sales are highest, Netsuite gives you the freedom and flexibility to view your customer data from multiple angles.
Sage is one of the oldest online contact management tools in this list, having been founded in 1981. Unlike the other tools, which have prided themselves on managing a rapidly growing customer base efficiently, Sage goes one step further and claims that their software is also useful for other functions such as email marketing, targeted marketing, and project management.
With more than 14,000 companies across the world relying on this platform to conduct daily business, Sage has quickly developed a reputation as a reliable contact management system for small businesses worldwide. Thanks to its ability to integrate common software platforms commonly used by businesses, it has gained a leg up on software platforms that can only stand on their own as a single-purpose tool.
Key Factors that Enabled This Software to Rank as a Top Customer Contact Management Tool
Below are some of the elements we found compelling enough about Sage to name it one of this year’s best web-based contact management software.
Simple User Interface
A common complaint amongst many online contact management tools is that the user interface is too clunky for efficient use. It is not uncommon to see a user interface for a contact management system that is overloaded with options that are not useful for the person using the software.
If you take a look at the above picture, you will notice that Sage’s user interface is extremely simple and intuitive in design. Everything is accessible with one or two clicks of the mouse, and there is no question about where a certain feature is located. The design seems like an unimportant feature until you start using the platform on a daily basis. Insightly understands this principle very well, which explains the massive success that they have had to date.
Secure Storage Infrastructure
In the twenty-first century, businesses want to know that they can trust contact management software companies to keep their private data safe. Moreover, they want that same privacy guaranteed for the customer data that is fed into their software. There is nothing worse, in this day and age, than learning that a business has accidentally made your personal information vulnerable due to a security breach or a mishap on their part.
To counter this legitimate concern, Sage uses Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology with additional validation procotols to encrypt all activity done on their platform. You even have the option of selection whether your data will be stored on a European or North American server. For more details, you can read about Sage’s security policies here.
Subscription Models for Various Needs
Many businesses are opting for a “try before you buy” model in which clients have the opportunity to test a platform for a few days before making the purchase. This allows them to experiment with the client management software’s features and see if that software will work in their company’s daily workflow. It is actually more expensive to go through multiple platforms over time than to stick with one over that same time period.
Sage provides two subscription options, ranging from its standard cloud option ($39 per user per month) to its more robust on-premise option. The former comes with a 30-day free trial to give you the opportunity to test the software out before you buy it. The latter is far more advanced in terms of customization and features, with the price only obtainable upon consultation with a Sage representatitive.
Founded in 1999 during the beginning of the dot com bubble, Salesforce is a client management software platform that is entirely cloud-based. It claims to be an all-in-one tool that allows businesses to perform multiple functions: lead generation, customer management and acquisition, deal tracking, and more.
Ranked as one of the most innovative companies across various publications (Forbes, Fortune, etc.), Salesforce has established itself as a titan in its industry and a highly sought-after employer. This can be attested to by numerous customers that have seen transformational results ranging from small businesses to multi-million dollar companies.
Key Factors that Enabled This App to Rank as a Top Contact Management App
Below are some of the most significant reasons we selected Salesforce as one of year’s top online contact management tools.
Automatic Sync & Integration with Email and Calendar Data
Out of all the struggles that come with getting used to any contact management app, data merging ranks up as one of the most difficult parts of the transition. Emails, phone numbers, calendar data, and far more have to be manually entered into the application in order to make it useful as a tool for managing client data and activity.
Salesforce’s contact management software circumvents this problem by being compatible with many popular tools such as Gmail and Microsoft Exchange. Once you connect those accounts to Salesforce, everything is automatically set up, and you can start using the platform right away. It only takes minutes to migrate all of your data and mere seconds to use Salesforce to improve your sales!
Try Before You Buy
Salesforce does not come with any free options in comparison to some of the other client management software tools featured, but it does give prospective users the option to try out the fully functional platform free of charge for a 14-day trial period before making the decision. As the software is cloud-based, there is nothing that needs to be installed onto your computer. This is an important feature to have, as it is the most expensive platform featured in this article.
One of the most important parts of any sales process is keeping in frequent contact with the customer. Unless you have scheduled reminders to do so, it can be difficult to remember this fact. This is especially true as your customer base grows larger and you have a more difficult time keeping score of an increasing number of clients.
Salesforce’s contact management system comes with an intelligent reminder system that sends reminders to account users to follow up on customers with key questions to keep leads warm. Need another team member to step in and take over the conversation? You can see which team members have interacted with a client and when the interaction took place, allowing a cold call to turn into an introduction that leads to a sale.
Zoho was initially founded in 1996 as a network management company, having added its contact management software platform nearly 10 years later in 2005. Although it has added several more tools since that time point, its client management software remains as one of its most popular products.
Within the 20 years that Zoho has been in existence, it has expanded to more than 3,500 employees located internationally and a staggering customer base of nearly 20 million users. Despite its staggering success, Zoho has remained a private company over the years and has refused contributions from outside investors. This allows them to innovate and drive progress in the direction that they deem fit while providing exceptional service to their user base.
Key Factors that Enabled This App to Rank as a Top Contact Management Software
Below we’ve compiled a list of some of our most compelling reasons Zoho has made our list of this year’s best contact management software.
Access to Zoho’s Entire Toolset
What do we mean by this? A quick look at their main website shows 6 categories of applications that reside under the Zoho moniker, each with their own list of distinct software tools. This extends far beyond any contact management software that you will ever see. Here are the categories and their associated software systems:
- Sales & Marketing: CRM, SalesIQ, Survey, Campaigns, Sites, Social, Contact Manager, Forms, Motivator
- Email & Collaboration: Mail, Notebook, Docs, Projects, Connect, Bugtracker, Meeting, Vault, Showtime, Chat
- Business Process: Creator, Appcreator, Reports, Site 24×7
- Finance: Books, Invoice, Subscriptions, Expense, Inventory
- IT & Help Desk: Support, ServiceDesk Plus, MDM, Assist
- Human Resources: Recruit, People
For small businesses with 10 or fewer employees, you will be able to use the free edition of Zoho and have full access to its features. However, if you wish to provide this contact management app to more than 10 users, you will have to subscribe to their CRM Plus package, which prices at $50 per user per month.
With the incredible results that people get from the free version, combined with the increased complexity and scope of features that are offered, customers view this as an investment that will help them make their purchase back many times over. This makes it one of the best free contact management software platforms you will find on the Internet.
Automatic Customer Prioritization
One of the highlight features of Zoho’s contact management system is the ability to see where customers are according to their stages within the sales cycle that you set up for your company. You will only need a second to see which clients need your time and which ones can wait until the next day. It is also worth mentioning that you can track their activity on your website. You can see who visits which website pages, for how long, and any forms of contact they have made with your company.
Conclusion: Top 5 Best Contact Management Software
So there you have it—the best contact management software that is currently available to businesses of all sizes. Each and every one of these online contact management tools come with their own unique strengths that make them better suited for certain companies depending on what their goals are and what they look to get out of using a customer contact management tool. What does this mean for you, the buyer?
It means that there is no such thing as a single “best contact management app.” Some people are going to want a platform that is available to them for free while, others are willing to invest extra money for greater computing power and a host of extra features. You need to look at each contact management system individually and see if it is the right fit for you.
If you liked the contact management software reviews featured in this article, drop us a line and share your thoughts. We would love to hear about any personal experiences that you have had using these software tools or any other contact management app that has worked for you and your business. Make client management enjoyable again!
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