Is an Open-Source CRM Right For My Business?

What is CRM?

A customer relationship management (CRM) system is software that lets you manage your current relationships with your customers while facilitating the development and addition of new customers. With a CRM system in place, you can analyze customer preferences and needs and track your marketing campaigns. CRM systems help you amass and crunch data to retain current customers and drive your sales growth.

A CRM system compiles data about your customers from just about every communication channel you use, including email, live chat, and social media. As you learn more about your customers, you can tweak your marketing to meet their needs and communicate to them more effectively. Account-based marketing systems also rely heavily on the data gleaned from CRM systems. Because it costs less to retain existing customers than to gain new ones, use of CRM can be vital in generating profit, particularly when reaching the 40 to 50 percent of customers who show some loyalty to your brand but who are also probably shopping with the competition.

However, while CRM systems can be invaluable to businesses, often their cost puts them out of reach for smaller companies. As a result, many open-source CRM options have arisen to help small businesses take advantage of the benefits of a CRM system.


Benefits of an Open-source CRM

Open-source CRM may not be right for every business, but many small companies find it ideal to help them with customer retention and acquisition. Take a look at some of the benefits of using open-source CRM.

Cost. Open-source CRM is generally free. Typically you can modify them, or developers may charge a nominal amount to make modifications or provide expert support.

Ability to Modify. Commercial CRM software can be very complex. If it does what you need it to do, you’re in good shape; if not, you have to adapt. With open-source CRM software, however, you can make the modifications you need to get exactly the features you need. Since off-the-rack CRM software has to apply to every industry, it may not offer the features you need most. The ability to make changes also lets you stay nimble, adapting your customer engagement strategies to whatever your research highlights and whatever the marketplace demands.

Ability to Switch.Most commercial CRMs demand a commitment to the software, which open-source software doesn’t require. Use it as long as it works for you, then switch to another platform if you prefer.

Simple Management. If you need to install open-source CRM software at multiple locations, you don’t have to hassle with issues about licensing or pay extra for the convenience. You can copy the software as needed and use it as you wish.


Open-source CRM Options

Several open-source CRM options are available to get you started. One of the most well-known is SugarCRM, which has been around for more than 10 years. Because of this, it’s been refined and tweaked over the years to provide full functionality with lots of features. Some people find it frustrating, however, since there’s a fair amount of pressure to upgrade to the paid version. Other open-source CRMs were built on the SugarCRM code. SuiteCRM, for instance, is a mature program that’s very stable and an excellent choice for handling and tracking sales.

If you’re looking for more features already in place, including email and marketing automation and workflow, check out EspoCRM. OroCRM provides cloud and e-commerce integrations, and SplendidCRM is particularly useful if you need to integrate your CRM tool into an existing Microsoft stack. If your business is OS-based, check out VTiger, which offers plenty of marketing and email automation features and is easy to integrate with third party providers.


How to Get Your Business Started With an Open-Source CRM

If you go with an open-source CRM, pick one that works for your business as it is right now and as you expect it to grow in the immediate future. Especially when you’re using an open-source CRM, you’re not making a lifelong commitment to it, so you can always change systems as you need to grow. You can also sample several systems since the open-source nature of the system means you have the flexibility to shop around and try a few.

Look for the core features you need, and think about what changes you need to make to the system. If you don’t have the coding talent on staff to make the changes yourself, seek the help you need to implement changes and upgrades.

A CRM system can put the power of data and analysis into your customer engagement and retention efforts. Consider an open-source system that provides you with flexibility and options to help your business grow.

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