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I am between a rock a hard place right now with a decision relating to CRM capabilities and general email marketing for our company. We have simply used very basic (think Gmail contacts, outlook, excel spreadhsheets) customer relationship management tracking to date but have some ambitious sales goals ahead and want to get serious about our methods. We currently use Google Apps for our email provider and I have done some research into most of the big names in the CRM game (that have links with Google Apps Marketplace) and think I have at least narrowed down our choices to the following:

All have their benefits and we aren't quite sure which will choose so far but pricing is certainly a factor as we are a small company. Unfortunately, our sales people can be a bit thick-headed at times and fail to follow instructions. Our goal is this:

  1. Create an HTML formatted email with some basic customizable fields (name, email, small text clip)
  2. Sales person can enter the name of the contact they are trying to reach out to (ideally this is a contact already entered in one of the CRM systems mentioned before) along with the custom message field included in each email.
  3. Once the system recognizes it is a new lead email (doesn't have to be automatic, manual selection is fine), it will pull the HTML email content, populate with the fields entered or selected and send off to the prospect.

I want to make sure the client cannot modify the template content in anyway. I know I could accomplish this by setting up a web-form on any of our existing sites for our agents and allow them to enter the information then send through a transaction email API (we currently use Mandrill but SendGrid/Mailjet/etc would all work) but looking for something with tighter integration with a CRM and something that goes ahead and forces our sales reps to enter the contact in before sending a blank canvas email.

I have looked at something like Yesware but I would prefer the email origination comes from the CRM because it does not look like I can mandate the email used the "new prospect template" from such a tool.

Are there any tools which can accomplish this currently?

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How many users do you have? This can impact the CRM you choose. –  Weehooey Mar 12 '13 at 11:38
    
@Weehooey - good question, currently we have less than 6. –  JM4 Mar 12 '13 at 23:15
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Salesforce has editions for up to 5 users. After that the price jumps dramatically. –  Weehooey Mar 13 '13 at 11:12
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4 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

You missed on of the strongest CRM's to integrate with Google Apps: Solve360

It has email template features

We have worked with deployments of Salesforce, Insightly and Solve360 and done evaluation on a number of other packages.

Salesforce can be made to do anything. Highly customizable it is the gold standard... meaning it has all the features and costs a lot of gold. Love working with it but many smaller companies find it too expensive.

Insightly is very inexpensive and does the core functions many smaller businesses want -- at a low price. Integrates nicely with Google Apps. Has an API so you can build the system you want.

As a company, we use Solve360 because of its integration with Google Apps and our other apps: FreshBooks (invoicing), Zendesk (help desk management) and MailChimp (e-mail marketing). Each contact (person or company) can be linked to a FreshBooks and/or Zendesk account so all the invoices, estimates and tickets will show up in the contact's history. MailChimp integration is better... it matches email addresses and records campaign history directly in each contact.

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I'll give 360 a look. The email template feature is very important to us but not a large scale as I got from the link sent over. We would be sending templates to individuals and almost never to more than one recipient at a time. –  JM4 Mar 12 '13 at 23:22
    
Solve360 has two main template options: sending to individuals at a scheduled time and then sending to groups. –  Weehooey Mar 13 '13 at 11:10
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You mention using Mandrill/Mailgun/Sendgrid for transactional email.

You might check out Zapier for integration with various CRMs of those services.

Zapier can automatically send an email anytime it detects a new lead/contact in a CRM for those services. The links below show those services integrating with the various CRMs from Zapier including Salesforce, Zoho, Pipedrive, Insightly, etc.

Quick disclaimer that I built Zapier, but if I was doing this that's exactly how I'd do it. :-)

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If you only have 5 users (you said under 6), then I recommend either:

Snapforce CRM

Zoho CRM

Both Snapforce and Zoho are great for small businesses, i believe snapforce won 2013 award for best CRM system to use under 100 employees. But both are worth checking out. As they both offer FREE editions.

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So you forget the most incredible CRM System: Microsoft CRM Dynamics :D . I think if you gonna choose a CRM System you have to think in future you want extend the default behavior. So which language you or your team or any partner like play? .NET choose Dynamics CRM, if is APEX choose Salesforce, or PHP choose vtiger or sugarcrm. Hope this helps and not confuse more.

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good point. I don't see us extending functionality for quite awhile based on current needs but do understand your point. –  JM4 Mar 12 '13 at 23:17
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