Salesforce vs ACT – Small Business CRM Database Software

Salesforce vs ACT CRM – Comparing the User Experience

With Salesforce, there is a Limit of 5 users for Group Edition. Secondly, Salesforce is often viewed as quite costly. The most popular edition, Salesforce Enterprise Edition is priced at $125 per user per month. The cheapest edition for getting in the door is the Professional Edition at $65 per user per month.

Salesforce provides numerous “feature gaps” as well as hidden costs. For example, customizable dashboards and quotes are only available in Professional Edition. Also, offline access is an extra cost for the Professional Edition and not available at all in the Group Edition. The Workflow module is only available in the Salesforce Enterprise Edition or Higher; and  Visual workflow is an extra cost in all editions. True complete mobile integration is priced at $50 per month per user within Professional and Enterprise Editions

The maximum number of App Exchange or custom addons is also very limited: A max of 1 for Group Edition; 5 add-ons for Professional Edition; and 10 add-ons for Enterprise Edition.

Another frequently sited knock on Salesforce is that is very hard get data back at the end of the contract – this means that the user is simploy proved multiple csv files, and limited support for common database tools. This makes it very difficult for the normal user to switch to another solution if unpleased with Salesforce.

The biggest limit is that deployment is only available within the Salesforce cloud.

ACT user experience

In contrast to Salesforce, there are no arbitrary user limits. The cost of ACT is low, predictable and scalable.

Also, the broader range of features are provided within the standard product – this means customizable dashboards, quotes, opportunity management, workflow / smart tasks.

ACT also provides a consistent user experience for online and offline users.

There are no limits on extensibility – as ACT is based on a SQL / SQl Express database.

The very large and active partner channel provides support in every part of the country.

And finally, ACT can be deployed as on-premises or hosted solution.

Comparing Search and List functions within Salesforce and ACT

The Salesforce.com search returns results for all fields – that’s 16k user requests to change.

Filtering is not easy either. Filters are simply free text – and they must be enabled by IT. They are also limited to accounts and contacts.

Please note that Salesforce searching provides no drop-downs (aka pick lists) for states or countries; thus users must enter States and Countries as free text – which typically provides poor search results.

List Views cannot cover more than one entity. You can only see the fields on a single entity.

It is also valuable to note that duplicate alerts are not provided as a standard feature.

And finally, users are not able to do much with their search results. They cannot really take action against search results – they can merely edit or delete. Not very helpful indeed.

In contrast, Sage ACT! provides excellent and useful search results. The new Universal Search features allows users to search across all data. ACT also provides the ability to create a lookup against a specific field.

ACT also allows users to take action against the results. They can send emails to a resulting list. They can export that list to excel. They can create a call list from that list. And much more.

ACT always provides Drop-Downs (aka Pick Lists) for States and Countries. This ensures accurate search results by eliminating misspellings and variants (e.g Washington vs. WA)

Finally, duplicate alerts are provided as standard. If you are creating a duplicate record, ACT will notify you!

Comparison of Salesforce and ACT mobile options

Salesforce.com provides only limited capabilities on FOC ‘Lite’. The Salesforce.com version only syncs most recently accessed records. It provides no custom entities and no custom configurations.

The full version is very expensive – $50 per user per month. It is reliant on full client downloads on the mobile device.

Salesforce provides no dedicated iPad client…this is only available for Chatter. Android support limited to Froyo and Gingerbread versions. There is no Safari support for iOS device.

Sage ACT! mobile is built on an HTML 5 client. It is a browser delivered client that looks and feels like a native application. It is browser independent…with broad device support – iPad, iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Mobile. This full mobile solution included at no extra cost for Sage ACT! Premium customers.

Comparing Salesforce Dashboards against Sage ACT Dashboards

With Salesforce, customizable dashboards are not available in Group or Contact Manager Editions. This forces businesses to upgrade to more costly editions.

The Dashboard layout in Salesforce is restricted to a 3 column format. There is a limit of 20 components per dashboard. Dashboard charts are based on reports; therefore if a chart does not exist, the user will have to design a new report first and then implement withinthe dashboard. The problem with this is that the underlying report can be filtered, yet the dashboard component cannot be filtered.

A huge problem is that Standard dashboards override security settings allowing users see information that may be restricted. Recently, Salesforce.com introduced ‘dynamic’ dashboards to address this issue, but this feature is not available in Professional, Group or Contact Manager Editions; and limited to 5 dashboards in Enterprise Edition and 10 in Unlimited Edition. Dynamic dashboard components must be refreshed manually.

Sage ACT! provides easily customizable dashboards. These are not restricted to 3 column layout. Better yet, custom charts can be added without the need for an existing report.

Dashboard components can be easily filtered.

Security is respected.

Thus users only see data they are entitled to see.

Comparing Mail Merge between Sage ACT and Salesforce

Salesforce.com does not make it easy to create a mail merge. Salesforce.com standard capabilities require the user to complete the following steps in order to create a mail merge: (1) create a CSV file, (2) export it from Salesforce.com, (3) carry out the merge in Word (no history generated inSalesforce.com), (4) and individually re-import merged documents back into Salesforce.com.

Extended mail merge capabilities are available in Salesforce, yet must be activated by Salesforce.com customer service. There are also a number of limitations.

The merged file is emailed to you as a single zipped file or added to your documents tab as a single file. Thus Salesforce.com records the merge as an activity in history, but the merged file is not attached to the record automatically.

Other limits: There is a limit of 1000 records at a time. And the template cannot be greater than 1MB. The number of records x template size cannot be greater than 50MB. And attachments sent out in mass email are sent as a link that expires after 30 day

Sage ACT offers the best mail-merge simplicity on the CRM marketplace. There is a simple, 5 step mail merge wizard that allows you to create a mail merge directly from a lookup or a group. The histories are attached to each contact records automatically.

Comparing the Sales Process for Salesforce and Sage ACT

With Salesforce, the Quoting function is only available in the Enterprise Edition or above. The Product catalog is an extra cost option for the Professional Edition. And interestingly, Salesforce provides a single sales methodology out of the box. In this limited/restricted methodology, individual stages can be removed, but stage names or percentages cannot be changed or new stages added unless the company has purchased a sales methodology from Salesforce AppExchange.

With ACT, users are provided quotes and products out-of-the-box. Sage ACT also allows users to capture their specific sales processes and milestones; this ensures that their CRM application fully reflects the way that they do business and track their sales. ACT users can also track multiple sales processes – this means they can have a specific process for selling to new customers and another for tracking existing customers.  The sales fields and strategies are fully configurable and they guide users through the qualification and progression of all types of sales opportunities.

Comparing Offline Access within Salesforce and Sage ACT

For Salesforce, offline access is not available in Group and Contact Manager Editions. In fact, this feature is a hefty extra cost option within the Professional Edition. Moreover, the offline and online access screens use different user interfaces. That means that users

need to understand and get good at multiple user experiences. It is noteworthy that Outlook integration is not available when using the offline client. It is also extremely valuable to understand that custom objects are not available in the Professional Edition of Salesforce ($65 per user per month) or below. The user experience is not automated either: Users are required to manually synchronize before going offline and sync can be very time consuming.

With Sage ACT, users are provided a consistent user experience, whether they are online or offline. There is no difference. There are multiple ways to configure synchronization: manually, automatically within the user interface and background sync (with ACT turned off).

Comparing the Customization/Personalization for Sage ACT and Salesforce

Salesforce provides only limited end user personalization – and this personalization applies only to the dashboards and home tabs. Administrator rights are required in order to make the vast majority of customization changes elsewhere in the application. Right-click functionality is not supported in Salesforce, and right-clicking on the screen will only present the browser menu. Field level security is only available in the Enterprise Edition of Salesforce and higher. Leads lose closed activity history when converted to opportunities/accounts. Although Social CRM is available, in reality, AppExchange add-ons are required for social media integration. With Salesforce, standard workflow is only available in the Enterprise Edition or higher. The Visual Workflow add-on is only available as an additional cost service – and can only be implemented within the Enterprise and Unlimited Editions. Workflow is only triggered by the user, not other workflow. Workflow routines cannot be linked together.

Users can personalize Sage ACT easily to their individual preferences. This includes personally customizing images, colors, windows themes, screen layouts, database fields and controls, and much more. Field-level security and social media integration are provided out-of-the-box as part of the standard product functionality. Right click capabilities are provided throughout ACT. Within ACT, Visual workflow is provided as a standard function, and individual workflow templates can be easily linked to each other.

Recent history of Salesforce.com as a business

  • •             Financial results – announced a loss for Q3 FY’12
  • •             Spring ‘12 Release – cross application workflow; Chatter messenger; Salesforce analytic; full editing in Salesforce.com for Android
  • •             Winter ‘12 Release – updated Chatter Mobile clients; mobile dashboards; Chatter for Outlook pilot; team forecasts; filtering for dynamic dashboards
  • •             Summer ‘11 Release – Chatter for mobile; Chatter for lists and favorites; improved report building; workflow and approvals for Knowledgebase articles; task synchronization with Outlook; live agent for support; Chatter email invitations
  • •             Previewed touch.salesforce.com – HTML 5 client; scheduled for launch in 2012
  • •             Announced strategic partnerships with Infor and Intuit – Integrated proposition for ERP products; adds further channel capability
  • •             Acquired Radian6 – adds social monitoring capabilities to its CRM applications, enabling Salesforce.com users to track customer trends on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites. Seen as an important addition for ServiceCloud 3 in particular
  • •             Launched Data.com – data enrichment service based on Jigsaw acquisition
  • •             Announced plans to open new data centres in Japan and Europe in 2012
  • •             Launched Service Cloud 3 – Chatter and social media integration
  • •             Acquired Dimdim – providers of web conferencing, presence management and real-time communication technologies, to enhance the collaboration features of Chatter.

Salesforce vs ACT – Video Review

Free Sage ACT! Feature Evaluation

Sage ACT! Premium 2012 - Free Feature Review and Assessment PDFClick here to receive this Free Sage ACT! Detailed Review.

With this evaluation, you will be able to understand the key improvements within Sage ACT!.

Items discussed:

  1. User Screen improvements
  2. Social Media integration
  3. E-Marketing options
  4. Mail-Merge with Microsoft
  5. Performing Web Surveys
  6. Sales Opportunity redesign enhancements
  7. Advanced Report options
  8. ACT Dashboard improvements
  9. OLEDB interface improvement
  10. Advanced Outlook Integration
  11. MS Outlook Invitations
  12. Flexible Outlook Sync for Contacts
  13. Google Contact Options
  14. Improved Importing design
  15. Smart Tasks options
  16. Workflow design
  17. Advanced Lead Management
  18. Administrative enhancements

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Mark Shaw

Director at Accent Gold Solutions
Author: Mark Shaw, Director of Accent Gold Solutions, is certified in a number of CRM systems - including SAP CRM, SugarCRM and ACT! Having studied Business at the University of Massachusetts, he went on to consult several large Energy Utilities in the US and Europe - including designing a Sales Database for the largest European provider of Natural Gas. Using his unique combination of sales and marketing experience, Mark has set up and led successful sales teams for several firms, including Xerox.
Read more about Mark on our About Us page. Google