Many CRMs try to appeal to every type of business and every type of user, but SugarCRM hits it out of the park by focusing on development tools and advanced customization. The design for end-users is excellent too, which is why we named SugarCRM the Best CRM Software for Developers.
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This software-as-a-service (SaaS) product is packed full of features like contact and lead management, marketing tools, reporting and analytics, call center capabilities, workflows and approvals and more. There's a bit of a learning curve to using this CRM though, and getting started may require some work, but if your company has a decent in-house tech team, this solution will offer you unparalleled customization options and tons of high-level resources. The outstanding customer service and active online community make SugarCRM the clear choice for developers who want to fully customize the CRM experience without creating an entire product from scratch.
SugarCRM is an Excellent CRM for Web Developers
If you're after out-of-the-box functionality, choose a lightweight CRM that's intended for users with or without technical expertise, but if you want serious support for in-house developers, SugarCRM is the way to go. This SaaS product started as an open-source software project in 2004 and it hasn't forgotten its roots. The SugarCRM developer community is active, the online resources are comprehensive, and the customer service team couldn't be more helpful.
Businesses with lots of in house tech talent and super specific needs will appreciate the completely open API, which allows for nearly limitless customizations, third-party integrations, and add-ons. The CRM can even be accessed in a Community Edition, which is specifically for developers and is supported on Unix, Linux, IBM, Mac, and Windows. Finding answers to questions and comparing notes with other developers is easy, thanks to the active community forum and blog and there are even in-person events for power users, like SugarCon.
The Partner Corner is also a unique and valuable resources for developers. Through the partner portal power users can contribute to the blog, read about similar use cases, and create or view upcoming events among SugarCRM users. Some SugarCRM users even partner with other companies that are also using the CRM, to help each other through the implementation and customization process. For some companies, this community of open source developers offers a dual benefit of making the customization process easier and building outside relationships with other small businesses.
Of course, a system can't be built only for developers, and SugarCRM offers a lot for end users as well. SugarCRM's UI isn't as slick as other SaaS products we reviewed, but it is easy to navigate thanks to the familiar business software layout. When users log in they'll immediately see a home page with tabs going across the top of the page. Tabs are clearly labeled by category like Home, Accounts, Contacts, Opportunities, Knowledgebase, Leads, Reports, and more.
The dashboards in this CRM aren't visually pleasing, but they work, and the incredible customer service is as valuable for regular users as it is for developers and admins. In fact, when we tested customer service we were pleased to find that representatives could calibrate their answers to our questions based on apparent user-knowledge. This is a coup in an industry that often struggles to address the needs of standard users who don't have degrees in computer science, and it's sure to make SugarCRM a popular choice with your users (once the setup process is complete).
SugarCRM Pricing Structure
Sugar CRM offers three tiers of service and is a bit pricier than some of the other CRM solutions we reviewed, however, it is worth the price tag if your business intends on taking advantage of the customization and developer tools. Here's how SugarCRM's pricing structure works.
First, it's important to note that SugarCRM has an across-the-board user minimum, so it's more expensive than it appears at first glance. For any of the subscription level listed, at least 10 users must be supported. The lowest level tier, Sugar Professional, is $40 per user, per month. Of course, with the user minimum included this works out to a minimum annual cost of $4,800 (or a monthly cost of $400).
The next tier is Sugar Enterprise, which costs $65 per user, per month, or $7,800 a year minimum. The final level of service is a whopping $150 per user, or $18,000 a year with the minimum number of users. The only other product SugarCRM offers is an add-on called Hint, which offers additional customer intelligence for an extra $15 per user, per month, which works out to an extra $1,800 a year with the 10-user minimum.
All Sugar CRM subscriptions are listed monthly but billed annually. This fact, paired with the user minimum may prevent some small companies from choosing this CRM over the competition.
Outstanding SugarCRM Features
Sugar CRM does not offer built-in e-commerce, but other than that, it has nearly every feature imaginable. Plus, this solution offers some fantastic tools for the DIY set:
- Best-in-class customer service: SugarCRM truly sets the standard when it comes to offering incredible customer service at every level. A quick phone call will have you talking to a live human being in short order, and the associates are able to answer highly technical questions and basic user questions with equal ease. Transfers were fast and efficient, and reps were friendly across-the-board.
- Popular integrations: Sugar CRM is extremely customizable, with hundreds of approved third-party apps for everything from adding surveys to configuring sales taxes. It integrates with Microsoft Office, QuickBooks, Sage, Cisco WebEx and other popular programs. However, to make many of these integrations happen you must touch the API, making it more difficult to achieve for small businesses without in-house tech talent.
- Development Resources: While most leading CRM have open APIs, Sugar CRM offers a staggering number of development resources for integrations and customizations. The Sugar CRM online community is also extremely active, making it easy for developers to learn from each other and share resources; Sugar CRM even offers certifications to their users.
- SQL-based reporting: Automated template-style reports are great for small businesses without a data or tech team, but for tech-heavy companies the ability to use SQL to query reports is invaluable, and SugarCRM offers exactly that. Plus, like with everything that can be customized in SugarCRM, there's step-by-step documentation on setting up advanced reporting modules.
Sugar CRM has lots of features, but it's really built for businesses that have in-house tech and development teams. The interface isn't as clean and modern as other CRMs on the market, and there is a bit of a learning curve compared to other similar solutions.
While finding out technical information is extremely easy, thanks to the breadth of dev resources and stellar customer service, getting basic information is a bit more challenging. If your team has never completed a software implementation project and isn't accustomed to sifting through technical documentation and user guides, you'll be better off choosing one of our best picks that's geared towards standard business users.
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