Australian accounting software vendor MYOB has launched its first foray into sales software, via a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) plug-in for the popular Microsoft Outlook email client.
ClientConnect, which starts at just $99 a year for a basic version or up to $768.50 for the first year of a multi-user, server-based version, recognises that many small businesses that need CRM tools also need a tool with a familiar interface.
The company said the plug-in "adds more features and functions" to Microsoft Outlook such that small businesses have one window for all their email communications, calendaring and sales and contact information.
It effectively bridges the gap between a user's MYOB accounting software and the Outlook client - potentially the two most used pieces of software in Australian small businesses.
MYOB CEO, Tim Reed said, "the biggest challenges for small business are generating leads, making sure leads convert to sales, and optimising the amount of revenue earned from existing clients.
"Our products are already the primary way in which most small businesses manage their debtors - they use it to store all the details of existing clients but that tends to be kept separated from the screens of sales teams looking for new opportunities. By connecting debtor information from MYOB with sales opportunities, all presented in Outlook, we can provide a more holistic view on the relationship with the client."
Reed said it was "very important" that CRM was offered to small businesses using interfaces already familiar to them.
"While big business might look at dollar cost and time equation around training for new software, for SMBs if it isn't natural and intuitive - if any training is required - they simply won't use it," he said.
Reed acknowledges that several cloud-based providers such as SugarCRM and Zoho offer CRM as plug-ins to Outlook, not to mention Microsoft's own Dynamics suite.
But he said Australian small businesses rely heavily on trusted brands and are more likely to adopt a CRM suite released by the provider of their accounting software.
"Brand is very important - small businesses look for reliability and service," he said. "Most small businesses don't have a full time IT professional to research the market, they need to work with an organisation they feel they can trust. A referral matters more to their purchase decision than just about any other factor."
Channel to market
ClientConnect is offered as a basic single-user package [PDF], a more advanced single-user package [PDF] and a server-based multi-user package [PDF].
The two single-user packages are available for download directly from MYOB's web site, or from MYOB's 15,000 strong professional business partner base and retailers such as Harvey Norman and Officeworks as packaged software.
Reed said that at this time, there is no hosted version or software-as-a-service version available.
He added that MYOB will be contacting its existing client base directly to drive download sales from its web site.
But he said there are still opportunities for partners.
"The multi-user, server-based version needs to be installed on the same server as Outlook," he said. "That is something a business partner can do, if your client needs a multi-user environment with a pipeline of sales, visible across the office, there is that server install required.
"But even if users only need the single-user versions, lots of small businesses look to their professional partner to do everything in their IT. Even a download and install is something some small businesses prefer to have assistance with."
Issue: 315 | May 2013
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