NetSuite smartens up CRM

NetSuite 10 enriches hosted application suite with sales analytics

A rarity among CRM vendors, NetSuite integrates an ERP and accounting backbone directly into its SFA, marketing, and support platform, overcoming back-office deficiencies that often limit CRM effectiveness. Version 10 addresses another common shortcoming in CRM apps: actionable business intelligence.

For example, the new Upsell Manager looks to be a good tool for analyzing sales patterns, helping to identify potential cross-sell and up-sell opportunities and push leads onto the stack for follow-up by sales staff. Elsewhere, a graphical executive dashboard packs comparative and threshold-based triggers that highlight significant data trends in real time.

Another useful feature is NetSuite's inline editing, which allowed me to make updates to report data, such as changing the rep assigned to an important sales opportunity, without leaving the page. I could even make changes to multiple records simultaneously.

Although still light in areas such as contract management and extensibility, NetSuite bundles good features for automating support-case escalation and routing incoming e-mail, as well as for Web store and customer self-service integration. However, features for strict workflow management appeared lacking compared to vendors such as RightNow Technologies and SalesLogix.

The price of a full-blown NetSuite solution -- with add-ons such as advanced analytics -- can quickly escalate the total cost. But because most of NetSuite is purchasable ad hoc, small businesses can begin cultivating fallow sales ground now and add new modules as budgets will bear. SMBs looking for a strong CRM app, and especially those in need of integrated financial and inventory management, should take a close look at NetSuite 10.

NetSuite 10
Cost: Starts at $99 per user per month, including Upsell Manager; NetCommerce Analytics add-on: $199 per month.
Available: Now