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Recommended Host for Zurmo
What is Zurmo?
Zurmo Community Edition is an open-source Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, with Project Management functionality built-in. It features a unique "gamification" design, intended to make interacting with the software (and, thus, serving customers and completing projects) fun, intuitive, and convenient.
What is Customer Relationship Management software?
A Customer Relationship Management system is a software application that helps sales and customer service professionals keep track of their customers, leads, and prospects. CRMs typically track sales and marketing activity, cold calls, appointment notes, scheduled follow ups, and closed deals.
Customer Relationship Management is used by sales organization to help their sales people stay organized and follow up with current and potential customers. It is also used by sales management to monitor sales agent activity, distribute leads, and track commission.
The problem with Customer Relationship Management
If you talk to almost any sales manager, and ask them what is wrong with their Customer Relationship Management software, they will tell you: Low compliance. Their sales people don't use it.
They might enter a few notes after the fact, or create deals after a sale closes in order to satisfy their commission requirements. But the kind of robust interaction that actually improves sales outcomes usually never materializes.
The reason? Ask the sales people: The systems are not intuitive. They are boring. They don't track the things I care about. It's easier to just write things in my notebook or calendar.
Why are CRM systems usually bad?
Part of the reason CRM systems typically have such a bad user experience for the sales agents is that they are marketed to, and purchased by, managers. So they focus on the things that impress managers: reporting, stats, metrics, charts, comparisons, and the ability to assign things.
This is very different than what a sales person wants or has time for.
Zurmo's approach to Customer Relationship Management
Sales people want to focus on their own activity: what do I need to be doing right now? They do not want to be continuously filling out data forms, or finding the most appropriate adjective from a drop down list.
Zurmo essentially reinvented Customer Relationship Management, focusing on the experience of the sales person. They also took deliberate steps to lower friction, remove adoption barriers, and promote repeated use.
They want the most important feature of the system to be that people use it.
Besides generally improving upon other system's manager-centric paradigm, the most notable feature of Zurmo is its gamification of CRM.
Gamification is the process of turning a task into a game. This can be done a number of ways. For example: you might assign point values to certain actions (100 points for calling a new customer; 200 points for setting an appointment).
Small rewards are then awarded when point-value goals are achieved. Rewards might be virtual (badges, titles) or physical (a book, a gift card). Typically, the rewards are small, since the "real" reward of making sales is a commission check. The game's rewards are simply a token of achievement.
Sales and Gamification
There are two primary reasons for including game mechanics in Zurmo.
The most obvious one is that it promotes compliance and adoption with the software itself. Though it seems silly, little triggers like a point counter or a virtual badge help nudge people to choose the system rather than (for example) their own paper calendar when making a note. These small choices to use the CRM system rather than not add up to a measurable improvement in compliance, and higher reported user satisfaction.
The other reason to employ gamification is that sales is a complicated job, and it is not always clear what actions in the present will lead to sales in the future. Moreover, the tasks that are most beneficial (such as calling new prospects) often carry no immediate reinforcement.
Adding gamification to the sales process makes it clear to the sales person which activities are considered high value and high impact. It makes the reward for those activities immediate and tangible, rather than distant and abstract. It reorients the sales cycle from a long struggle with one binary (yes/no) payoff at the end into an incremental process that the sales agent can make measurable progress on each day.
Zurmo Web Hosting
Zurmo Community Edition requires PHP 5.3.3+ and MySQL 5.1+, along with a number of fairly common PHP libraries and modules. It should run on most any web server, but the development team only specifically tests it on Apache and IIS.
As this is likely to be "mission critical" software, it is not recommended that you do enterprise-level production deployments on shared or discount hosting.
If you do not want to host and manage your own installation of Zurmo CRM, premium plans are available in a subscription SaaS model.