SaaS CRM: Can Channel Partners Still Plug In?
The SaaS CRM market continues to generate double-digit annual growth in the U.S., according to AMI Partners. Spending on SaaS CRM will outpace on-premise CRM by a margin of nearly four to one over the next few years. But here’s the question: Can small VARs and MSPs carve out a unique niche in the SaaS CRM market? Or is it too difficult for channel partners to stand out in a crowd that includes Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, hosted SugarCRM partners, and more.
First, the good news: Cloud services have allowed SMBs to obtain CRM technology at significantly less total cost of ownership (TCO) than associated with on-premises CRM systems. Meanwhile, SMBs are striving to recruit, retain and upsell more customers. SMB CRM users, for instance, are a third more likely to engage in social media activities for business than firms that do not use CRM, according to AMI Partners.
Just a few years ago, the idea of an SMB using anything but the most rudimentary CRM system would have been laughable. Now the growing popularity of cloud computing is taking SaaS to another level — where CRM and other formerly enterprise-class technology essentially performs as if running on premise.
While big technology provides big benefits to SMBs, it also provides big headaches. SMBs do not have any institutional knowledge built up around using enterprise-class solutions such as CRM, and most likely do not have ready access to the assets needed to properly install it, integrate it, and make it run.
Fortunately, MSPs can serve as aspirin for that SMB headache. Microsoft, for one, has been urging channel partners to get trained on Dynamics CRM Online. And SugarCRM has been deferring its SaaS strategy to hosting partners and channel partners.
But we still wonder: Is the SaaS CRM market reached a channel partner saturation point?
Additional insights from Joe Panettieri.