SalesLogix closes in on full-service CRM
Self-service portal, SpeedSearch additions aid v6.2, but there's still room for improvement
Best Software's SalesLogix is a Windows-based sales, marketing, and support application that gives SMBs a universal view of the customer, from identifying initial leads to managing ongoing service contracts.
The 6.2 release shapes up deployment and admin efforts and bridges gaps in its customer service and support system. New options, including global SpeedSearch and a customer self-service portal, are good trappings for service departments looking to improve customer satisfaction and efficiency.
While it's well rounded for record keeping and basic workflow tasks, there remain underdeveloped areas, relegating SalesLogix to use in smaller shops. For example, I would prefer to see more graphical insight within the interface. SalesLogix is great at organizing text data; now
it needs to exploit the executive dashboard capabilities found in competitive CRM apps.
Also, despite improvements to its support features, SalesLogix does not yet fully exploit online chat or tools to drive post-sales spending. The marketing engine -- sufficient for most small businesses -- was somewhat lackluster in capability and analytics.
But with stand-out features such as a variety of client options, good interface customization, a fairly minimal learning curve, and a Crystal Reports engine included in the sales price, SalesLogix still makes a good choice for SMBs looking to improve conversion rates and long-term customer loyalty.
Looking at Logistics
SalesLogix is a Microsoft-centric product. Although it will support an Oracle database, SalesLogix requires MS SQL Server 2000 along with Windows 2000 Server (or later), IIS for the Web support engine, and MSDE 2000 (Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Desktop Engine) for the remote clients.
On the plus side, SalesLogix now supports Windows authentication for single sign-on, and can directly import Windows users and map permissions to SalesLogix. Another installation improvement comes by way of a new licensing tool that accepts cut-and-paste key input. With so many add-on components, manual license entering can prove tedious, making this a good enhancement. I would like to see an additional monitoring feature in the licensing section to reflect statistics like current usage and remaining users.
Once everything was running, the well-laid-out Sales interface offered a solid platform for managing contacts and opportunities, with potential for maintaining a good bead on metrics and forecasting over the sales pipeline. The new sales process engine helps populate sales opportunities with best-practices guidelines, but admins should be ready for a good deal of customization and fine-tuning as the complexity of requirements grows.
Although it has built-in calendar and task functionality, SalesLogix integrates and syncs with Outlook and can map data between Lotus Notes and GroupWise. Many CRM apps focus on Outlook only, so this shows more of a high-end focus.
The remote sales client supports offline access, resynchronization with features such as localized database sectioning,
delta-change detection to minimize transfer time, and good resolution conflict. The Advanced edition lets users access many features via WAP and a Web browser, which will help service reps in the field.