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Choosing a Contact Management System for your Business

Author: Carl Heaton
He is our senior instructor and originally from Manchester UK. Carl teaches our Web Design and Online Marketing Courses.
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A Contact Management System (most commonly know as a CRM or Customer Relationship Management) is a program that enables you to store and manage contact information. They are essentially databases that track all your information and communication based on your contacts.

contact book banner image

A Contact Management System (most commonly know as a CRM or Customer Relationship Management) is a program that enables you to store and manage contact information. They are essentially databases that track all your information and communication based on your contacts.

” Forecasts from Gartner anticipate that the customer relationship management market will be worth $36.4 billion worldwide by 2017. “

Many of these systems offer calendar integration which can be shared with your business contacts. This makes staying organised much easier and saves you the time it takes to manually maintain your contact database as well as liaising with clients to arrange your calendar. And this will work on your mobile so you can take it with you!


 “Not only is the CRM industry growing at a rapid pace, but Mobile CRM is expected to grow by 500% in 2014, with more than 50% of business rolling out or piloting mobile CRM.”

A contact management system offers many benefits for the user, which include:

  • Centralisation of information which makes it easy to search for contacts.
  • Sales tracking
  • Email integration
  • Calendar integration
  • Documents, notes and conversation management
  • Import/export utility
  • Ease of communication

The are a huge range of contact management system softwares available and making the right choice can become really complicated due to the fact that it depends largely on your specific business requirements.

The benefits of using a CRM graph


“15% of organizations have replaced all or most of their on-premise customer service applications with software-as-a-service solutions, while 24% use SaaS to complement their existing solutions. “

For the purposes of this article I have chosen five CRM systems that are worth mentioning for discussion and hopefully in that I can also give some insight into what is important when choosing a contact management system. However the option often comes down to three deciding factors, namely: Features, security and cost. The right balance of these factors is what you need to find the right contact management system for your business

Most important CRM feature for consumers


There are many website that offer  side-by-side comparison of some of the top CRM softwares or you can see specific feature reviews on some of the products you are looking at.



salesforce logo
When it come to choosing a contact management system, Salesforce tops the list and that is mostly based on a well-designed and easy to use interface. Where Salesforce really stands out for me is their help and support resources.

When I signed up for my free trial with Salesforce within hours a representative had called me offering information and support if i needed it. Shortly after she send me an email telling me where I could find additional support. They are always available and the staff are friendly and helpful.

salesforce service email example

The price tag may not fit everyone’s budget, but the features lead the industry and there is a 30 day free trial that you can use to ’test drive’ the software before you buy it.

Salesforce free trial
The contact record display makes it easy to go through past emails involving a contact person, view notes added by you or other coworkers, browse previous sales or business interactions, and see who else within your organization has dealt with a specific contact.


A contact record displays a persons name, title, phone number, and email, but also displays other business information and documents gathered from past interactions with that contact. You can also tag contacts with specific characteristics to indicate what that contact means to your business.

Salesforce contact information display interface screenshot
This is all available in the mobile app as well so you can access your contacts ‘on the go’.

The Salesforce Cloud also includes a real-time sales collaborative tool called Chatter. Which is essentially a social network within the Salesforce system while still supporting all the normal social media channels.

Another area where the sales force automation software delivers unique value is with its sales coaching, closed loop lead management and embedded analytics. – Read more about Salesforces analytics capabilities

In terms of security, to help protect your data, there are profile permissions to prevent users from exporting data or that disable the API for a user. So any edition with custom profiles will have this available. Salesforce has an AppExchange partner called OutProtect that can prevent employees from “walking away” with data from your organizations.

salesforce securty permissions example screenshot
outprotect logo how to choose the best CRM for your business
OutProtect allows you maximum control of user permissions. It blocks, logs, and creates an audit trail of all data removal activity on PCs. It alerts the company to policy breaches or attempts to remove downloaded company data to any unauthorised device or application. For more information on how OutProtect works with Salesforce see: http://www.outprotect.com/salesforce.html





     “EngageBay is not only an affordable alternative to HubSpot, but it also comes with a simple user interface that requires a minimum learning curve that integrates all your marketing, sales, and service processes in a single platform to manage your startup or small business holistically. It is totally lightweight, can be set up in minutes and entirely cloud-based.”

EngageBay has a proactive customer support team for all your questions as well as a mobile app for ease of access outside the office. Moreover, EngageBay does not apply lock-in periods like so many other providers. It simply allows you to pay on an as-you-go basis and doesn’t charge anything if you ever choose to discontinue. 


EngageBay’s marketing automation suite helps you save time, nurture your audience and automate routine, manual tasks. With the free CRM and sales automation, you can organize all your email contacts, track deals, and the sales pipeline to grow your sales. Further, you can build meaningful customer relationships that stay for life. And finally, with the free live chat and helpdesk features, provide real-time assistance to convert visitors to happy customers. Track, prioritize, and solve customer support tickets in minutes.


EngageBay allows you to have up to 10 users for free with an upper limit of 1000 contacts/emails per month in its free plan. This is a bonus for solopreneurs with tight budgets. Subsequently,  paid plans are more affordable than most other solution providers in the market.



     “Oracle‘s  scored an overall score of 4.6/5 topping the list of CRM’s  for its depth of functionality in CRM magazines Service Leaders awards.”

Oracle CRM on demand in combination with Oracle’s Commerce solutions, deliver a unified cross-channel experience for consumers. Oracle CRM On Demand allows you to view real-time and historic analytics and adaptive business planning. It also cloud capabilities for sales and marketing data as well as Outlook/mobile integration.

Oracle is rated very highly as a high performance contact management system. It offers similar functionality to Salesforce and the only criticism the interface is kind of ‘old and crusty’.

Oracle CRM on demand interface example
Oracles CRM on demands sales capabilities are unexceptional when it comes to account, contact and opportunity management as well as administrative functions such as calendar and task management. But it is a very powerful tool and trusted by many of its users.

CRM on Demand offers highest information security in the cloud CRM industry. Although also used by nearly all cloud CRM services Oracle offers maximum level of SSL encryption that is permitted by the user’s browser or geographical location. However, Oracle also adds database roots in order to add security layers to data at rest. You can add encryption to specific database rows or columns or even sections of your database. These added levels of security will be appreciated by security and data privacy conscience organisations  such as financial services and government.



zoho logo

Although Zoho isn’t as feature rich as some of the other options it has most of the necessary features that you will need to manage client relationships. Zoho has a simple interface which makes it quick to get set up and easy to use.  You can add contact information and details easily as well as upload relevant documents, add call logs, notes, and tags. Zoho has a built in email management system so you can manage your email from Zoho without having to access outside programs. Plus they have a mobile app for ease of access outside the office.

Zoho interface image How to choose the best CRM for your business
If you ever need to export contacts for a report or just as a data backup, Zoho allows you to export in several file formats. Which then brings us to security.

Zoho contact management system provides an “Enterprise-grade Role-based security with a defined set of permissions and hierarchical accessibility”. Role-based access control is a method of managing authorization while performing tasks in complex systems. To access these Administrator-specific functions, you must log into Zoho CRM system as an administrator.  From here you can manage users, profiles, roles, permissions, groups, data sharing and a long list of other security features.

contact management system
Security levels image: www.zoho.com

Zoho allows you to have three users for free, which means you can get your contact management up and running at no cost and even after that Zoho is still much cheaper than most other CMS softwares for that matter.


sage logo
Sage is another great CRM that manages contact information, history, archived notes and files, plus integration with social networking profiles. The interface is well organised showing everything you will need to manage relationships with contacts and business partners. Sage also offers an added bonus of having telephone integration.

contact management system
image: www.qgate.co.uk

CRM CTI provides CTI-enabled users with telephony functionality from their desktops, via the Sage CRM interface. Users can select any hyperlinked telephone number in the system to call that number, and any incoming calls are matched with contacts in the CRM system so that users can quickly view contact details while they talk, or even before they take the call.

You can integrate with Microsoft Outlook or sync with Google Contacts and calendar, plus there is unlimited storage space for contacts.

Sage allows you to sync contact records with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn so each contact will display up-to-date social networking profiles right within the Sage application. You can even tweet right out of the Sage interface. Sage meets all your needs to keep phone numbers, emails, to-do lists, and documents organised.

contact management system
With regard to security, Sage allows the administrator to control user privileges. Therefore a user will be able to access a particular set of data records to which another user may not have access. The first user may be able to use features such as Delete and Change buttons when looking at a record but the second user may only have view rights with no access to the buttons in the interface.

Sage doesn’t have the customer support services of Salesforce or the ease of use of Zoho, but it does provide a good service at an affordable price.



team support logo
according to www.softwareadvice.com:

      “TeamSupport has several key features that are unique and essential to enhancing team collaboration and delivering cohesive customer support. Customer requests coming in through multiple channels are assigned a ticket, ensuring that no customer issue slips through the cracks. Ticket Automation allows your support staff to flag messages by type or word. For example, a flag could be added for any support request containing the word “frustrated” or “upset,” allowing your team to prioritize the customer.”

contact management system
image: www.getapp.com

TeamSupport is a Robust and easy to use yet flexible and intuitive CRM  which has internal collaboration tools such as screen recording, customer portal, forums, automation, escalation and time tracking.

TeamSupport is available as a mobile app and also allows for integration with Salesforce, Highrise and Zoho.

As with most advanced CRM’s it has all the security features  while still allowing for easy reporting, exporting, filtering and sorting.



As I mentioned at the beginning. Choosing the right CRM can be a challenging endeavour. And the list of CRM softwares is almost endless. However, the option often comes down to three deciding factors, namely: Features, security and cost. Knowing your business, budget and requirements is key to making the right decision. Take the time to test out some options before making your decision and it might clear some of the fog to let you find the CRM that suites you perfectly. But just to help you out as much I can, I’ve added the following section.

Tips for choosing a contact management system and making the most of it

1) Develop a Strategy

Know what you want for your business. understand your goals and the image that you want to portray. The goal could be to increase sales or raise brand awareness, but knowing your companies objectives can dictate the needs of a technology system.

2) Take advantage of free trials

Free trials are there for vendors to show off their softwares and for you to find out which one works for you. Try and use as much of the software as you can and really get a feel for the way that it runs and how it will work with your business. This is a great way for you to make a decision based on personal preference and usability rather than choosing from a long list of features you may never use.

3) Choose a Vendor to FitYour Needs

Don’t choose a vendor before you know exactly what you need from your technology system. As I’m sure you can now see there are a lot of options and each has its own specific set of features. Whats important is that you know what you want from the system so that you can choose one that most fits your needs. Choosing one without first fully understanding this will only mean you might miss out on the ‘perfect’ software

4) Take advantage of the features

Almost all the CRM systems out there offer you analytical tools which help you improve your business some of which are really useful. Make use of these and take the feedback and use it to improve your business. Use social media integration to get feedback and use social media to promote your brand and boost your business.

At Broughten Hotels, the company tracks key points in the customer lifecycle from planning and searching for a hotel to the review process after the stay. “We monitor in real time so we can react quickly,” says Dev Dugal, vice president of sales and marketing at Broughton Hotels. “For example, if we are doing renovations on our pool, and we see mentions about it affecting customers negatively, we can adjust the renovation hours so it doesn’t interfere with guests.”

source : http://hospitalitytechnology.edgl.com

8) Analyse the Data 

Analyse your data and feedback in real time using social media, but also have the ability to analyse short-term and long-term patterns. Measuring doesn’t help if you don’t analyse and react to it to support customers.

Still can’t decide?

Of all the contact management system vendors out there for most businesses there is only one option and that is Salesforce. Salesforce are the industry leaders and any company who is serious about their business will have Salesforce at the top of their list. Salesforce lead the market so much so that most other softwares now offer Salesforce integration with their systems effectively rendering themselves as ‘add-ons’ to Salesforce. In terms of security, reliability, customer service and functionality you cannot go wrong choosing Salesforce. Although the service isn’t the cheapest you will find. In the long term I think you will find it well worth your money.

Want to learn more?

If you need some help promoting your business at Web Courses bangkok we also offer courses in e-commerce and social media marketing.

Ryan Byrne


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