What CRM do people recommend?


I signed up for Office 365 Business Premium because it has Outlook Customer Manager, which looked like a reasonable CRM solution for our small business.  Now after using it for five months, it is clear that Outlook Customer manager is extremely buggy and unusable. 


I cannot be the only person running a small business.  What are other people doing for a CRM solution?  What does Microsoft recommend?

27 Replies

One of my clients likes AgileCRM.

I appreciate the recommendation.   I will try it.  I am looking at HubSpot, too, but it seems very temperamental.  The basic functionality is that it should sync contacts with Office 365.  Extra credit for being able to capture emails from the client from Office 365.

It also looks like Nimble have worked hard to integrate with Office 365 - lots of connector support.




Well, Agile made it very easy to import and sync contacts to Office 365.  However, there is no option to make contacts private or share them with other team members.  This is really the whole point of a CRM, since if we did not want to share contacts and company info, we could just keep using Outlook, which does all that.


On to Nimble....


Really surprising how bad the CRM offerings out there are.  Can't even do the basics.

Sounds like you are on a mission! While your keen, have a look at iGlobe. It's a SharePoint product you can add to your tenant.

Nimble does not offer any free tier, which is a requirement in our case.  Although it looks like the founder of Nimble actually has has an idea what CRM is for.


iGlobe gives me a bad feeling just from the way they present their product.  You cannot enlarge their videos, so you are forced to watch very small videos with annoying music and nobody telling you anything.  The fact that it is written in Sharepoint is hardly a positive.


I will try Zoho next.  I am not sure there is actually any good solution.  I may be forced to tell the CEO that she will have to pay for Salesforce if she wants a CRM.

Don't forget Salesforce' biggest competitor, Microsoft! https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/what-is-crm


I already have forgotten them.    Navision was just another company (like Outlook Contact Manager) that Microsoft bought and rebranded several times but never did anything good with.  I used Navision a bit about 10 years ago.  Very difficult to use.  See the chart at 3:05 https://vimeo.com/252438241



I thought NAV and CRM were different products. NAV is an ERP, much more than a CRM.





You're right.  It looks like CRM started out life as a product from iCommunicate, which was bought by Microsoft and folded into the Dynamics 365 Product in the current rebranding incarnation.  So now all these acquisitions are mixed together in one product.


I must admit that after seeing how buggy and ignored Outlook Customer Manager is, I am not really too keen to try more Microsoft acquisitions.  The only reason that Office 365 works is because Microsoft wrote them and is still making a ton of money off them.


So if we decide to pay for CRM, Salesforce is clearly the solution.

Dynamics CRM is a product that Microsoft developed from scratch and you are right that under the Dynamics brand you have different products...but coming to your original question, in the Microsoft world the CRM product you should have take a look is Dynamics CRM...of course, Outlook Contact Manager is free what make it absolutely attractive for you, but since you have face with some blocking issues I think you have to go for a more complete product. You mention that Salesforce is clearly the solution in case you have to pay: Might I ask why? Some advantages you have with Dynamics CRM are the integration it has with other Microsoft products such us SharePoint Online or the extensible model it provides

Well, let's see.  We can start with the fact that it isn't even called Dynamics CRM anymore.  The latest rebranding is that the whole hodge-podge is called Dynamics 365 now.  And then the fact that they want to charge you $210 per user per month, which is a bit more than free, which is what our budget is.  


Then, there is the fact that you can apparently buy just the CRM piece for the low price of $65 per user per month, but when you try to find out more information about that, you are only asked to enter your email address for someone to call you back.


Again, Microsoft has in my opinion really shown who they are by offering Outlook Customer Manager to the broad masses of small businesses.  The product is unusable.   That they would unleash a piece of garbage on millions of paying customers and refuse to fix it is unpardonable.  


So the reason I will not try Dynamics 365 CRM (or whatever it is called today) is that:


1.  It is made by Microsoft, who has shown they do not care how buggy their software is, and will never fix it.

2.  The entry plan ($65 per month per user) is way above our budget, and three times what Salesforce's entry plan costs ($25 per month per user).

3.  It is difficult to find out information about their product.

4.  It is clear that Microsoft is not focused on CRM.  Their priorities are in their profit centers:  Cloud computing, and Office 365.

 5.  Dynamics 365 CRM is based on Sharepoint, which is historically extremely difficult to use.


Please also understand that about 90% of the people in our company cannot find the Escape key on their keyboard or the wheel on top of their mouse.  Asking them to use a Sharepoint application is not going to happen.

Regarding Agile.  They make it very easy to sync contacts with Office 365.  However, from there, they go downhill quickly.  There is no way to mark contacts as personal, so everyone in the company will be able to see who your dentist is.   Either that, or no one can see any of your contacts.  I really could not determine which.


Also, the day after you sign up for Agile, you will get a call from a foreigner, who with a very heavy accent will ask you if this is a good time to talk, and will then ask you tons of questions about why you want a CRM system and what kind of business you have, but will be unable to answer any questions about AgileCRM, such as how you can mark contacts as personal.  The plus side is that he will call you Mr. Harold, or whatever your first name is.


I lasted about 10 minutes on the call with this guy until it reminded me of talking to Comcast customer service, and I hung up.


Interesting reading.


It is clear that OCM is not a priority for MS, well at lesat untill they COMMUNICATE something to teh contrary. This really is frustrating. We have been O365 Business Premium subscribers for 2 years now, however do not want to wait any longer.


We need a VERY simple solution, which works like OCM but can be rolled out onto Android devices.


Any suggestions?





I'll keep contributing to this thread!


Another client uses: https://youdontneedacrm.com/

Another uses: https://www.zoho.com/crm

Another uses: https://www.pipedrive.com/

Another uses: https://www.salesforce.com/au/solutions/essentials/

decent article about CRMs: https://zapier.com/learn/crm/what-is-a-crm/

our beloved MS' offering: https://dynamics.microsoft.com/en-us/crm/what-is-crm/

every CRM app on Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=crm&hl=en



Thank you Craig, will have a peep at these.
FYI, we ended up using HubSpot. Now the only problem is that I can't remove the Customer Manager Icon from the Outlook ribbon. MS really has some serious problems. Their products do not work and are extremely difficult to configure and use.

This is exactly my worry Harold and I find it staggering that MS do not have a simple so

MS has no good CRM solution, and they do not care about CRM. MS are completely focused on selling Office 365 and Azure. Again, I recommend www.hubspot.com