There is nothing wrong with getting things set up right from
the beginning. The question is how much time and expense are you willing to put
into it given you are entering into a new and risky business venture. If you
can afford to do it the way you think is "right", than you should.
I saw your other post and I now realize this is for your virtual office
business. I also saw the requirements you listed there.
Auto responds to any contact from our site with a follow up
Infusion can do this.
Send that task to a sales rep.
Infusion can probably do this,
I`m not sure.
Keep any communication with the lead on file.
You can do this manually with
almost any contact manager or CRM system. Infusion probably has an automated
method to track which emails were sent to whom and when.
Be able to create reports based on group, lead tracks etc.
Most CRM systems have some sort
of reporting tool. Infusion must.
Be able to do recurring billing.
Billing is part of the Infusion
Email blasts and tracking.
Again Infusion can do this too.
It seems to me Infusion will do everything you want. I`m not
sure about salesforce.com. I don`t know if they have a built in auto-responder,
which most of your requirements are related to.
It is of course your business decision, but I deal with small business people
all the time. The vast majority do not have the capital to invest $5,000 in
setting up a CRM system and afford an ongoing $300 per month expense. If you
do, go for it. As I said, the Infusion system looks quite impressive.
If you don`t have the resources to afford Infusion, here are a couple
alternative approaches based purely on cost effectiveness: Rather than going
for broke right off the bat, keep QB to do your accounting and billing
manually. Find a simple, inexpensive, easy to use CRM that has a (less than
fully automated) email campaign management tool (www.appshore.com).
Or, if you really need all the automation of a full blown email campaign
management system, sign up for something like Constant Contact
(www.constantcontact.com), VerticalResponse (www.verticalresponse.com), or
GetResponse (www.getresponse.com) to manage the automated email blasts and
auto-responder requirements. You will still need a CRM system because these
products are email management solutions only. Get a very inexpensive CRM system
that both you and the staff who are going to be doing the virtual office work
Taking this approach you will incur no extra cost on the billing side, and only
minimal incremental cost on the CRM side and/or email marketing management
system. In either case the total cost will be much lower than Infusion for
sure, but the level of integration will be much lower. You`ll have two or three
systems, not one.
There are always trades offs. You can have everything you need fully integrated
from one vendor, and pay the price. Or you can use multiple best of class point
solutions that are very good at what they do, but are not integrated. Or you
can use the most cost effective solution possible, even if it doesn`t have all
the bells and whistles and isn`t fully integrated and fully automated.