There’s no shortage of new-comers to the CRM software industry. At last count, I tallied up over 240 CRM software products. What keeps these start-ups coming is an $18 billion industry with double digit growth and truly innovative ways to leverage disruptive technologies to help organizations better achieve their goal of growing mutually rewarding customer relationships.
But is there room in the CRM industry for 240+ CRM vendors? Probably not but there is room for those start-ups that can bring something new to the party.
I receive weekly requests to discuss or review new CRM solutions and I’m fortunate to be an extended judge for the CRM Idol annual competition which highlights some of the best CRM innovation on the globe. The CRM industry is 22 years old so demonstrating innovation in a mature technology market is a tough nut to crack. However, this week I reviewed the Converge Enterprise CRM solution and clearly found and up and comer that satisfies a market segment in need and I suspect will make an industry impact.
Converge Enterprise launched its Beta in January 2013, followed with a production launch in June 2013 and has since been on an impressive customer acquisition spree. As the name would suggest, Converge is an all-in-one application that brings together the CRM tenants of sales, marketing and service and further includes quotes/invoicing, marketing automation, project management and collaboration tools. The company’s target market is the SMB crowd and there’s a clear trend in this industry segment whereby SMBs are showing purchase preference for fewer, broader applications as opposed to more discrete or best of breed systems which have to be cobbled together. Technology providers need to recognize that SMBs don’t have the time or patience to create or troubleshoot system integration, incur the annual upgrade issues or somehow string together data siloes.
The company is also wisely going deep in vertical markets and thus far has created industry editions for real estate, insurance, accountants and legal professionals. System features such as the Refer function which shares leads and online collaboration among business partner ecosystems brings these vertical markets CRM capabilities not previously offered. For example, real estate agents routinely interact and exchange content with other agents, referring sources, mortgage brokers, appraisers, banks and more so the ability to share information in real-time and collaborate online is a powerful productivity aid.
From a CRM product perspective, what makes Converge Enterprise CRM unique is its breadth, killer UX (user experience), BPM (business process management) automation and overall flexibility that allows clients to adapt the software to their business processes, not the other way around.
Anybody who reads my CRM reviews knows that I’m an advocate for easy to use applications as the user experience is absolutely key to adoption, utilization and sustained CRM success. The Converge CRM user interface is exceptional. Intuitive features such as one-click access, informative mouse hover-overs, quick clicks, bookmarks, jump to’s, quick entry forms, inline editing and an overall user experience that mimics the best social and consumer applications results in an on the fly learning experience that minimizes training and maximizes user adoption.
Converge’s BPM capability is another high value feature not found in competitor CRM applications directed to this market. SMBs use unique business processes to find competitive advantage and outflank their much larger opponents. However, SMB CRM systems traditionally require customers to adopt their software process constraints. Converge breaks that tendency with a BPM tool that allows non-technical users to create user-defined workflows with phases, tasks, goals, sequencing, progress calculations and more.
I was particularly impressed with the BPM Tool function, which allows custom use cases to embed widget-like utilities such as tasks, checklists or Q&A dialogues into business processes. Customers can also create their own Tools to position where desired and apply controls such as making questions mandatory or offering users checkbox completion which facilitates the ease of use that is a hallmark of this application.
The company’s marketing automation capability gives it strong competitive advantage against more recognized players such as SugarCRM and Zoho CRM, however, I’m hopeful the company will further build-out this capability. SMBs are in a never ending quest to acquire leads and any technology that can save time and improve results will be eagerly embraced. Converge has the marketing platform and basic features such as auto-response and multi-channel drip marketing campaigns, but needs to extend capabilities for more flexible landing pages, forms and lead scoring. Mobile CRM is the other area where Converge has its foot in the door, but needs to enhance its offering to outpace direct competitors.
Delivering innovative intellectual property that solves tough business problems and meets the demands of a market segment is a precursor to success. The company is delivering CRM software innovation that puts it on a trajectory to break through the 240+ CRM pack from a product perspective, but now needs to show comparable success in breaking through the market noise in a way that gets wide spread customer attention.
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From a CRM product perspective, what makes Converge Enterprise CRM unique is its breadth, killer UX, BPM automation and overall flexibility that allows clients to adapt the software to their business processes, not the other way around.