Who is leading the B2C CRM market

CRM in medium-sized companies - first-class providers under the microscope

In the future, it will be more and more important for companies to establish a more intensive customer relationship. This is the only way in times of data exploration and personalization to ensure that you are at the forefront in your industry and that your competitors are left behind. If your customers are satisfied with your products, services and customer service, you can hope for valuable word of mouth and good reviews on the Internet, but only if your CRM software meets these requirements.

This is the new word of mouth in marketing! In the following article I will explain to you how to check your current structures and workflows and how to set them up for the search for a new CRM system. All with the aim of inspiring your customers and relieving your employees.

Basics and requirements

The label CRM (Customer Relationship Management) describes the summary of all customer-related processes in a company. These include direct sales campaigns from sales and marketing, as well as accounting processes after customer acquisition. The processes move in a broad spectrum of workflows that have to be mapped with the software.

A CRM system is therefore much more than an administration program for customer data. It is a professional software that supports you in all sales or consulting phases. Communication on the status of service orders or the dispatch of goods can be automatically regulated via a CRM. Complaints and claims management also supports your employees and creates a higher quality of service. Check the efficiency of individual processes and employees at any time. Thanks to modern cloud solutions, you can access sensitive business data absolutely securely from anywhere in the world and at any time. You can read positive business processes just as easily as a need for optimization in individual departments.

The individual providers of CRM systems often do not differ that much in terms of their functions. From a formal point of view, most of the tools from the usual comparison portals meet your individual requirements via system-side adjustments (called customizing). You can add numerous functions via interfaces or as an additional add-on. Therefore, analyze exactly what your requirements are!

In addition to functional flexibility, other factors are often pushed into the background. Much more important for your market research, however, are often forgotten criteria, such as the focus on business model and industry, data protection (GDPR) or investment security and internationality. Please do not leave this out and take a closer look!

Vendor evaluation checklist

1. Alignment with business model
OResearch & Development
2. Case studies from similar companies or industries
OProject descriptions
OClassic case studies
OInstructions for best practice
OPress articles on special solutions
3. Flexibility of the software
OStandard or basic system
OExtensions to the standard
OSpecial solutions such as add-ons or partner solutions
OIndividual development by the provider
4. Data protection and GDPR
OIs the software GDPR configurable (compliant)?
OIs an order processing contract concluded?
OAre the data protection declarations understandable and transparent?
OIs the provider based in Germany or the EU?
ODoes the effectiveness of the GDPR depend on third party agreements, such as the US-EU Privacy Shield?
5. Integration and licensing model
OOn-premise: purchase and installation on your own server
OOn-Demand: Rent a cloud system (S.a.a.S.) at the monthly rental price
OSubscription (hire purchase)
OPrivate or open cloud
OHybrid hosting models
6. Technical know-how
ODevelopment description (e.g. Developer Wiki)
OChangelogs / Release Notes
OManual and instructions for users
OUser and administration training
OPartner for the technical implementation
7. Business premises or international orientation
8. Investment security
OHas the company been on the market for more than 15 years?
OAre there customers from different industries?
OAre there customers of different sizes?
OAre there more than 20 employees?

Function battle: these applications really matter

To get straight to the point: There is no feature table that spits out the best CRM for you with one click. Always answer the overarching question: Which functions best suit my needs? Nevertheless, there are certain basic functions that simply have to be available for certain areas of application. In addition to clear contact and person management, you need the classic means of communication for individual activities with the customer. This includes calls, e-mails, entries in the appointment calendar and notes on all processes and tickets in service and complaint management.

Different business areas and their applications

  • Mobile accessibility
  • Web services and other interfaces
  • Document management
  • Online office editor
  • B2B contact management
  • Import & export of contacts (e.g. CSV)
  • Global full text search
  • Individual filters
  • Groupware (calls, emails and appointments)
  • Design and usability
  • Lead management
  • Newsletter and marketing automation
  • Marketing and sales evaluation
  • Customer segmentation
  • Connection of telephone systems
  • Complaint and service management
  • Ticket system for help desk and IT escalation levels
  • Workflows
  • Website connection (web forms)


  • Main and sub-projects
  • Task management
  • Budget and cost control
  • Time tracking
  • Resource management


  • Invoicing (workflow from inquiry to invoicing)
  • Dunning
  • DATEV connection
  • Contract management
  • Supplier management
  • Resource management
  • ERP interface
  • Digital employee file
  • Working time measurement
  • Vacation management
  • Duty and shift plans


Data Protection: The Inconvenient Truth About GDPR Compliant Working

Working with CRM systems in compliance with GDPR is not just a matter for the provider. You must actually allow the provided functions and restrictions in the system. Especially when it comes to earmarking and data economy, wish and reality often collide.

Everyone wants to know as much as possible about their customers. For example, when an order is placed, the manager's birthday is requested, although it is not necessary for order processing. But there are far more measures to be taken, which largely depend on the number of people who regularly access the data stored in CRM. If more than 10 employees have regular access to sensitive customer data, you need an external data protection officer. This must have full access to all processing processes in your CRM. Ideally, all processing processes are already compiled at the beginning of the CRM evaluation.

Typical processing procedures for the GDPR implementation

  • Field workers do not need full data access to all personal data.
  • The secretary is granted different access rights than the accounting department.
  • The IT department does not need to have access to the invoice data in the ticket system.
Important: the contract for order processing

With the order processing contract, you grant individual rights to third parties who access your data. These include B. IT specialists as part of a remote maintenance order. These people do not count among those who have constant access to personal data. If sub-contractors only have irregular access to sensitive data, you may not need a data protection officer.

Overview of the processing processes in CRM

legalityThe entry of data always requires consent (e.g. by opting in in web forms).
Consent & objectionThe permission for each data record is logged and it is recorded who entered or changed what. The same applies to the contradiction.
EarmarkingThe data is only used for a specific purpose (e.g. date of birth to check the age of majority, but not for birthday mailings).
Data economyThe mandatory fields for data entry are limited to a minimum. The date of birth is not required for price information.
transparencyThe person knows what the data is used for. The use of data for sending a newsletter is clearly visible (e.g. via a filter or checkbox).
Data securityThe data transmission must be encrypted and secured. SSL certificates and 4096 bit data encryption are important.
Data controlAll data access and changes are logged. Deletion periods due to inactive data are possible. Data that has not been in contact for over a year can be completely deleted.


IT and technology: the cornerstone for the expedition into the functional universe

The key question at the beginning of every CRM evaluation is: cloud or server? The outsourcing of IT infrastructures and resources has been a mega trend in recent years. The usage-related billing of software solutions is particularly attractive for companies, because enormous resources are shoveled up in your own administration.

However, the data breaches at large cloud providers in the open cloud sector and the Facebook scandal have put the focus back on the issue of data sovereignty. And here the attractiveness for hosting your own server solutions is picking up again.

Server - own hosting with license purchaseS.A.A.S - hosting in the private cloud
definitionInstallation of the software on your own hardware or infrastructure rented by the customer (e.g. server in a data center)Provision of the software directly from the provider for use via the Internet (similar to a website or known e-mail services such as web.de or GMX)
advantagesPeace of mind to have sole sovereignty over sensitive data


Use over your own network (with or without accessibility via the Internet)

High availability, encrypted data transmission, data backup, automatic updates and upgrades by the provider (saves internal resources)


Data storage on the provider's servers with scalable scope (as required)

disadvantageThe customer is responsible for the operation, availability, security and security as well as the up-to-dateness of the software and hardware (increased risk for data security and software usage)Responsibility for operation, availability, security and security as well as up-to-dateness of the software and hardware must be handed over to the provider (control is nevertheless necessary)
costsMonthly costs for updates and upgrades as well as support and serviceUsually monthly billing per user and different contract periods

Nowadays, the answer to the crucial question of cloud vs. server does not necessarily have to be answered at the beginning of the evaluation. By means of interfaces to existing systems (e.g. telephone system, ERP and website), more and more hybrid solutions are emerging in CRM implementation.

An IT infrastructure analysis is necessary for this. A decision can then be made as to whether cloud and server systems are to be connected to one another through interfaces. The scope and costs can only be assessed by IT experts. And please be sure to note: The software and its interfaces must be constantly maintained through updates, otherwise they will become security leaks or produce errors in the CRM system.

Total costs for the iceberg project CRM: TCO analysis & ROI calculation

The endless tension between price and performance is difficult to resolve in the CRM area. It is therefore very important to consider all other cost factors in addition to the license prices. Only in this way can a correct TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) invoice be drawn up for the providers remaining in the final evaluation round. This shows the total costs of various CRM solutions for a defined period (e.g. 3 years). However, the follow-up costs (e.g. through support, maintenance, care and further development) can make a serious difference here.

Typical costs are:

  • License prices cloud or server
  • Hardware costs for your own server installation
  • maintenance and service
  • Support and technical assistance
  • Time spent on internal workshops
  • Evaluation costs for research and provider presentations
  • Implementation of test systems
  • Installation and setup of the live system
  • (Data) migration to the live system
  • Customizing and special adjustments
  • Training for administrators and users

Here you will find instructions for your TCO calculation!

It is just as important to express the improvements and potentials associated with the new software in terms of monetary value.

These potentials are:

  • Time savings through automation and fewer clicks
  • Cost reduction (e.g. saving of printer toner and paper)
  • Possible increases in sales and returns through more cross-selling and upselling
  • Risk of inaction due to customer migration to the competition

If the total costs and potential are known, the ROI calculation is made. There are four possible approaches, whereby in practice the calculation of the simple ROI has prevailed.

  1. Simple ROI: Percentage KPI that shows the return in relation to the investment.
  2. NBW (net present value): Discounted future income less investment costs
  3. Calculation of individual performance indicators (e.g. lowering costs or increasing sales per lead)
  4. Calculation of the company's income after software implementation (compared to the current situation)

Market overview: five first-class suppliers under the magnifying glass

In order to make the decision about the right CRM system a little easier for you, we present the five providers here who have proven themselves and distinguished themselves on the market for more than ten years.

Head officeSan Francisco, USACupertino, USAErfurt, GermanyGeisenhausen, GermanyWalldorf, Germany
founding year19992004199919881972
Company size20,000 employeesOver 500 employeesOver 30 employeesOver 100 employeesOver 75,000 employees


B2C, B2B, services, e-commerceB2B, services, industry & manufacturingB2B, eGovernment, servicesB2B, services, industry & manufacturingB2C, B2B, e-commerce, services, industry & manufacturing, eGovernment
business roomD.A.CH, EU, UK, USD.A.CH, EU, UK, USD.A.CH, EUD.A.CH, EUD.A.CH, EU, USA
target groupSMEs, medium-sized companies, large companiesMedium-sized, large companiesSMEs, medium-sized companies, public administrationsMedium-sized companies, large companies, public administrationsMedium-sized, large companies
Areas of applicationSales & Marketing,
Service, e-commerce platform, collaboration
Sales & Marketing, E-Commerce,


Sales, service and support, help desk, billing, groupware and collaborationSales, marketing, service, collaboration, mobile CRMSales, marketing, service, collaboration, production, logistics
Functions & special featuresCampaign management, more than 2,500 apps in our own store, customer management, evaluation of sales opportunities, lead management and nuturing, numerous interfaces, landing page tool, social CRM, lead scoring, form editorSocial media connection for communication from CRM, open source solution, email synchronization with Outlook and Gmail, appointment management,

B2B account management,

Inbound Marketing, Marketing Automation, Advanced Analytics

Modular system of basic and additional modules,

Lead management, industry customization, project management

Ticket system with customer portal, integrated e-mail client, B2B

Contact management, document management, online office editor, invoice

Industry adaptation, Adito Designer developer interface for individual further development, multi-level rights system, mail synchronization with Outlook and Gmail, lead management and nuturing, workflow automation, simple ERP, BI or DMS integrationLarge language range with integrated translation service, email synchronization with Outlook, Gmail and IBM Notes, sales funnel with target management, large range of functions for ERP, business intelligence and supply change management
Design &


Lack of orientation due to the large range of functions, switching to a new interface very complex, long training periods, mobile appsDespite complex functions, minimalistic, intuitive user guidance, mobile appsQuick familiarization through familiar office design, some additional functions with a lot of clicks, individual filters and dashboards, mobile synchronizationEase of use, individual dashboards, if you work for a long time you can quickly lose track because many tabs are openVery tidy dashboards and masks for the Cloud for Customer variant, partly outdated design for the on-premise variant
HostingCloud / S.a.a.SCloud / S.a.a.S, Server / On-PremiseCloud / S.a.a.S, Server / On-PremiseCloud / S.a.a.S, Server / On-PremiseCloud / S.a.a.S, Server / On-Premise
Prices &


Free test phase (30 days), price per user from € 25, minimum contract period 12 months7-day test system, price per user from $ 40, minimum contract period of 12 monthsCloud CRM freeware up to 5 users, 30 days free test system, price per user 0-90 €, 1 month minimum contract periodLive demo, freeware installation for up to 3 users, price per user from € 69No information, all on request


This global player offers extensive CRM solutions and extensions for companies of all sizes. The self-employed, startups and corporations can be found among more than 150,000 customers worldwide. Regardless of the number of employees or the annual turnover, you control your entire customer and campaign management as well as all marketing processes with Salesforce. You reliably control the entire sales process, evaluate sales opportunities and upselling and make a significant contribution to optimizing customer service. Since the acquisition of Demandware, the tool has developed into a cloud e-commerce platform. Various individual solutions from the areas of CRM, marketing automation and B2B shop can be connected via interfaces to form a single customer experience platform. There are currently more than 2,500 applications in the in-house app store. Certain functions in the ticket system or the calculation of sales opportunities are supported by the AI ​​Einstein.


With the sophisticated CRM solutions, large companies in particular enjoy absolute freedom in their individual systems. There is even an open source variant. The biggest advantage is that there are interfaces for powerful ERP systems. The handling of complete marketing campaigns is also extremely clear. The ability to connect well-known social media channels (such as Facebook & Co.), which enables extensive communication from within the CRM, is also great. Marketing automation and advanced analytics are functional core areas. The tidy design and the intuitive user guidance are remarkable. Even complex and feature-heavy functions do not give the user the feeling of not being able to operate the software. However, the relatively high price is a barrier to entry. Especially since the test system is very limited with a 7-day test phase. I recommend that you make full use of the test period and do not undertake any other tasks.


The individually adaptable modular system manages all processes in medium-sized companies, including an extensive ticket system. Via secure and encrypted connections, you can also quickly access all contact details and processes on the move from your tablet, smartphone or laptop. The coordination of appointments is just as easy as the contact and document management and communication management or extensive tracking of activities in the customer history. Collaboration and billing are particularly mature. It offers service providers the opportunity to partially or completely automate the processes from the first contact with a prospective customer to invoicing and dunning. For customers with an advanced understanding of IT or IT service providers at hand, it is possible to develop and adapt their own functions and workflows using their own add-on framework. The software is further developed independently without the provider. The update capability and security are guaranteed by the add-on framework. That is certainly one of the main reasons why software manufacturers, system houses and IT service providers can be found among the many customers.


Companies from various industries adapt the functions of the CRM system according to their needs. The tool has a multi-level rights system. The synchronization of e-mails with Outlook or Gmail is possible without any problems. Leads are clearly managed and transferred to the customer stadium. Many workflows are automated, which saves time and money. The Adito Designer developer interface gives companies with programming knowledge a wonderful tool to independently adapt the existing software to specific, individual industry requirements. The software is designed to be clear and user-friendly. With its software architecture, Adito has developed into an xCRM platform for service, sales and marketing. Growing customer requirements can easily be further developed with the help of sophisticated interfaces to third-party systems. Integration of other systems (such as BI, ERP or DMS) is guaranteed.


SAP's business software is one of the world's market leaders and is used in most successful companies. The CRM solutions from SAP are not only rated extremely well by users, they also offer the usual high range of functions. Sometimes there is a lack of optics and ease of use. In addition to the usability aspect, the main advantage is that full functionality can be guaranteed across platforms. The range of functions extends from ERP and business intelligence to supply change management. In addition, the system has an enormous linguistic scope and even shines with an integrated translation service. The sales funnel enables efficient handling and constant controlling of sales targets. E-mails can be synchronized with Outlook, Gmail and IBM Notes. The tool has a high market penetration and user reach, but is mainly designed for large corporations.


CRM in medium-sized businesses - conclusion

A market research on the subject of CRM and the well-founded decision in favor of CRM software is not just a quick lunch break. As the mentioned iceberg has shown, there are always complex factors inherent in an IT project that should be taken into account during the evaluation. Otherwise the rude awakening may come later or you will fall into the cost trap.

Now you have the necessary know-how and helpful material (checklists and links) at hand to start your CRM expedition. Here are your most important tasks again at a glance:

  • Compare your requirements with the function pool!
  • Check your infrastructures and the technical background!
  • Deal with the much discussed topic of data protection!
  • Analyze costs and potentials and draw up your TCO calculation!

And now ... structured and thought out to the first stage!

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As managing director of Web-adrett, I advise CRM projects and help to implement them, starting with the process analysis with the creation of specifications, through to the technical implementation and adaptation of the software in the customer's company. Training courses and add-on developments are also part of my repertoire. I and my team are constantly on the lookout for new, practicable customer solutions that we implement in a targeted manner. To the web-adrett website