Making an investment in a customer relationship management (CRM) product or suite shouldn't be overwhelming, but it does require research. You must evaluate the various tools, weighing their strengths and weaknesses, to help you determine the best CRM software for your company. 

In this article, we compare the features and functions of CRM products as well as examine the latest trends in CRM.

While many of these products cover a similar ground, it's important to evaluate them based on functionality as well as delivery methods, upgrade cycles, service options or pricing models, or overall engagement and interaction. If you're considering a CRM purchase, remember that you aren't just buying a package; you're entering into a relationship with a vendor.

Below we examine full-featured CRM suites as well as applications with specific functionality that you'll want to consider as you begin your search for the best CRM software on which to build your engagement strategy.

Full-featured CRM suites

CRM applications for midsize or larger enterprises. Even though there are numerous options available, if you're a midsize or larger enterprise looking at CRM options to build a comprehensive, scalable customer engagement strategy on top of, you should look at Microsoft, Beyond the traditional areas of salesforce automation, marketing automation, and customer service, these applications also provide such things as online communities, deep analytics, and multichannel engagement. They can scale to handle the needs of the largest organizations. In addition, they have massive technology footprints with data centers and redundant systems located across the globe

If your employees spend a great deal of time in Outlook, Excel and other Microsoft productivity products, it makes sense to examine Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Through a mix of native-grown applications and acquisitions, Oracle has put together a series of cloud offerings under its Customer Experience (CX) umbrella for marketing, sales, service, social commerce and configure, price, quote (CPQ). While the functionality runs deep within each of these clouds, so can the cost and complexity of putting end-to-end processes together to create personalized customer journeys and experiences especially for midsize organizations with limited resources. With so many acquisitions involved in making up clouds, knowing how each of these pieces fits in its respective cloud can be tricky. And this can make integrating across CX clouds a lengthy and expensive endeavor.

CRM suites for smaller companies

While larger enterprises have the MOSS CRM suites to choose from, many smaller companies can't afford them, and even if they could, these products are often too complex to provide measurable benefits. Zoho's CRM suite is built specifically for smaller organizations that need solid, accessible and affordable customer engagement functionality. The CRM Plus edition includes email marketing, sales intelligence, social media marketing, customer service, project management and more at a relatively affordable annual rate.